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ISSUE N8
DECEMBER 2002
Page 4 of 8

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white cube Editorial: A Parliamentary dimension for the UN
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white cube Dossier:Decisions taken by the IPU Council in Geneva
white cube IPU News: The House of Parliaments becomes the new IPU Headquarters
white cube Event: The United Nations issues a stamp featuring the IPU
white cube Parliamentary Developments

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The World of Parliaments
  Dossier

Decisions taken by the IPU Council during its 171st session

Chilean Senator Sergio Páez elected President of the IPU Council"

171st session of the IPU Council
MPs present at the 171st session of the IPU Council. Photo IPU/H. Salgado
Chilean Senator Sergio Páez was elected President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Council at its 171st session, held in Geneva from 23 to 27 September 2002. He won by 106 votes to 99 against the Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia, Mr. Mosé Tjitendero. Senator Paéz succeeds Dr. Najma Heptulla (Deputy Chairperson of India's Upper House) for a three-year term. Senator Páez, a member of the Christian Democrat Party, is married and has two children. He was born on 1 June 1933 in Santiago (Chile).

During its 171st session held in Geneva from 23 to 27 September 2002, the IPU Council decided to re-affiliate the Parliaments of the Central African Republic and Fiji to the world organization of parliaments.

At the conclusion of its debate on the five parliaments (Georgia, Marshall Islands, Malawi, Paraguay and United States of America), which have not paid their assessed contributions to the IPU budget for more than three years, the Council decided to postpone any decision to suspend their membership until its next session, to be held during the 108th Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Santiago de Chile.

Elections

The Council elected Szabolcs Fazakas (Hungary), Rudy Salles (France), Shoeib Y. Almansury (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and Franklin M. Drilon (Philippines) to the IPU Executive Committee. Maryse Berge Lavigne (France) and Paddy Torsney (Canada) were elected titular and substitute members of the Committee on Middle East Questions.

IPU condemned violence in Côte d'Ivoire

On behalf of the 405 MPs representing 123 parliaments who were present at the session, Dr. Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, strongly condemned the acts of violence which threaten the democratic and representative institutions in Côte d'Ivoire. "We reiterate that dialogue is the only means of resolving differences and the only way to achieve a stable and lasting peace, and we wish to express our solidarity with the authorities and people of Côte d'Ivoire. We cannot but share the sentiments voiced by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, which have expressed their concern and condemnation of any attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of the democratic institutions [the world over].On behalf of the 405 MPs representing 123 parliaments who were present at the session, Dr. Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, strongly condemned the acts of violence which threaten the democratic and representative institutions in Côte d'Ivoire. "We reiterate that dialogue is the only means of resolving differences and the only way to achieve a stable and lasting peace, and we wish to express our solidarity with the authorities and people of Côte d'Ivoire. We cannot but share the sentiments voiced by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, which have expressed their concern and condemnation of any attempt to disrupt the normal functioning of the democratic institutions.

Financing for Development
Adopt legislation that would promote free and fair trade

Following the pattern it launched last year with the WTO Director General, the IPU organized a parliamentary hearing with an international authority on financing for development, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who is currently Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and author of the eponymous report that went to the UN Conference on Financing for Development. After hearing Mr. Zedillo declare that "rich countries' agricultural protectionism remains at a level which, frankly, is scandalous", the IPU Council adopted a resolution which recommends the enactment of legislation that would promote free and fair trade, afford greater market access to developing countries, and encourage the reduction of subsidies and financial support policies, as well as the elimination of other trade-distorting measures, particularly in agriculture.

The resolution also urges IPU Member parliaments to follow up the Financing for Development process and help make it more effective by reinforcing mechanisms which enable parliamentarians to monitor the work of the multilateral financing institutions. It also called upon parliaments to enact legislation that would strengthen the productive capacity of the grassroots economy.

Parliaments are also asked to encourage the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus by their respective governments, paying particular attention to the development aspect of the multilateral trade and financial systems. Cooperation between IPU, UN the Bretton Woods institutions and WTO is therefore encouraged. Last but not least, it also recommends measures to help eliminate corruption from politics and public administration and from economically powerful entities, and to combat the abuse of power.

The Committee on Middle East Questions supports the idea
of holding a meeting in Geneva between Israeli and Palestinian legislators

The IPU Committee on the Middle East Questions also met in Geneva on the occasion of the 171st session of the IPU Council. It held a hearing of an Israeli parliamentarian delegation and a Palestinian delegation, in the presence of the President of the People's Assembly of Egypt, and two representatives of Jordan, as well as an observer from the League of Arab States.

In its report, the Committee asked Parliaments to support the presidential and parliamentary elections which will take place in the Palestinian territories on 20th January 2003. It called for a safe, free and fair process. The Committee called on parliaments to send MPs as observers and asked the IPU to organize a mission to observe the elections.

The Committee also studied the proposal submitted by the Swiss Group and the "Manifesto - Movement for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East", to hold a meeting in Geneva between legislators from the Knesset and the Palestinian Legislative Council. The members of the Committee gave their unanimous support to the proposal and urged the IPU to do its utmost to organize the meeting and play an active part in its work.

The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians
will hold its 100th session in Geneva in January 2003

During its meeting in Geneva, the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians took up 54 cases involving 203 MPs from 31 countries including: Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Rwanda, Turkey and Zimbabwe. The IPU Council decided that the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians was authorized to examine a case concerning a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This recommendation was made on strictly humanitarian and non-political grounds in view of the special status of Palestine under international law and within the IPU.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, will hold its 100th session in Geneva from 20 to 23 January 2003.

Forthcoming IPU-European Parliament conference on the WTO

The Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament will hold a conference on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 17 and 18 February 2003 in Geneva, which will be attended by the Director general of the WTO, Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (Thailand).

The IPU and the European Parliament aim to strengthen democracy at the international level by bringing a parliamentary dimension to multilateral cooperation on trade issues. The conference, foreseen in the Final Declaration adopted by parliamentarians at the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in November 2001, is taking place as governments address the Doha Development Agenda and prepare for the Fifth Ministerial Conference to be held in September 2003 in Cancun.

The conference in Geneva will be organised primarily for parliamentarians who specialise in international trade issues in their respective parliaments. It will provide them with an opportunity to examine the main issues arising from the Doha Ministerial Conference and to obtain first-hand information on the subject from the new WTO leadership. The conference will also offer opportunities to exchange views and experiences with colleagues in other parliaments, interact with government representatives directly involved in the process of multilateral trade negotiations, and engage in a dialogue with representatives of leading international agencies carrying out programmes for technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of international trade.

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