PLACE DU PETIT-SACONNEX
1211 GENEVA 19, SWITZERLAND
Press release of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
AND SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES' RIGHT OF RETURN
The 648 members of 124 parliaments (including 139 women parliamentarians, 42 Presiding Officers and 37 Vice-Presidents) present at the 103re Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Amman which closes tomorrow, request the "abolition of those types of sanctions that hit civilians, and especially children, the hardest". The Conference, chaired by Mr Abdulhadi Al Majali, President of the Jordanian House of Representatives, adopted three resolutions.
Under the resolution entitled "Achieving peace, stability and comprehensive development in the world and forging closer political, economic and cultural ties among peoples", the Conference "urges international financial organizations to support programmes for combating poverty and marginalisation and to limit the adverse effect of adjustment programmes on the most vulnerable sectors of the population and to give priority to social objectives".
Under the same resolution, the Conference "advocates the conversion of the external debt of emerging countries into social development projects; deplores the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons, and the rapid increase in the illicit trafficking of small arms which are becoming more and more threatening; and urges all States to limit their armed forces strictly to their security needs and to use the resources thus released to pursue peace and cooperation."
With regard to the "Dialogue among civilizations and cultures", the Conference "invites parliaments to take effective measures to maintain and promote cultural diversity at the national and international level and, more particularly, to encourage the fulfillment of all cultures present on their territory, including through the adoption and implementation of legislation capable of guaranteeing freedom of expression and creation, pluralism of the media, the participation of all women and men in cultural and political life and the protection of minority cultures."
It calls on parliaments, in their relations with their governments "to work for free access to education for all, in particular equal access for girls and boys, especially in technology and communication media".
The Conference also invites States "to take action to promote diversity while ensuring commonality of values and respect for fundamental human rights, and to promote policies that protect minority groups and laws that guarantee the full exercise of their fundamental rights".
It urges all States that have not yet done so "to ratify urgently or accede to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and fulfill all its obligations without reservation and to ratify the CEDAW Optional Protocol." It calls on all States "to eliminate traditional practices that are harmful to women and children, as well as violence, sexual abuse or exploitation".
The Conference "calls on governments to acknowledge the human rights of children are frequently breached, resulting in their physical and sexual abuse, and to take practical measures to combat such abuse, and proposes the establishment of an inter-parliamentary network under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to combat child abuse".
Finally, the Conference "urges parliaments and parliamentarians to establish a parliamentary dialogue among civilizations and cultures, within the framework of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and through such initiatives as the founding of inter-parliamentary friendship groups."
In a resolution entitled "Support of parliaments for the rights of refugees and persons displaced by war and occupation, and assistance with a view to their repatriation, and for international cooperation to develop and implement strategies to combat the criminal activity of people-smuggling", the Conference:
"calls on all countries to uphold the provision of asylum to all those in need of it and to respect fully the principle of non-refoulement; urges States to address all the root causes of armed conflict in order to ensure the long-term protection of civilians inter alia through the promotion of economic growth, poverty eradication, sustainable development, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for and protection of human rights; calls on States, on all parties to armed conflicts and on UN bodies and other organizations to give urgent attention to protection and assistance for the most vulnerable among refugee and internally displaced population, particularly women and children who may be subjected to sexual violence, abuse or exploitation as well as being exposed to risks arising from armed conflict, including the forcible recruitment of children; stresses the importance of international solidarity and burden-sharing in reinforcing international protection for refugees; urges States and relevant non-governmental and other organizations, in conjunction with the UNHCR, to cooperate in mobilizing resources with a view to reducing the burden borne by States, in particular developing countries, that have received large numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees, and calls on the UNHCR to continue to play a catalytic role in mobilizing assistance to address the economic, environmental and social impact of large refugee populations".
Without loosing sight of refugee problems in other parts of the world, the Conference also expresses "its strong support for all efforts to achieve a just, durable and comprehensive peace in the Middle-East, including the Palestinian refugees' right of return, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 194, the Madrid Conference principles of Land for Peace and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 425 and the Oslo Accords".
This paragraph was added to the text after an Israeli amendment containing a proposal for a differently worded paragraph referring to a "just settlement of the refugee problem" was defeated by 765 votes against 64 with 461 abstentions.
On a related subject, the resolution "calls on parliaments to urge their respective governments to enact and strictly enforce sanctions against people smugglers, and to join forces with other countries and international agencies to suppress and prevent people smuggling; invites parliaments and governments to ensure the social reintegration of their returnees; appeals to parliaments to pursue cooperative and innovative action with the UNHCR to find expeditious and durable solutions for refugees and to strengthen the framework for international protection, thus reducing and, hopefully, stopping the flow of persons who may be exploited by people smugglers."
In his closing remarks, the President of the 103rd Inter-Parliamentary Conference states that "the resolutions were in harmony with the will of parliamentarians worldwide, particularly those pertaining to the sacred and legitimate right of return for Palestinian refugees, the rejection of settlements, and the need to lift sanctions which are becoming a heavy burden on the Iraqi people. They stressed the importance of expressing the public will to resolve conflicts on an equal basis, and according to international legitimacy in order to realize a just peace based on the granting of rights, abolishing dominance, control and extremism, and the resolutions promoting international cooperation to combat poverty and hunger and to implement sustainable development."
Finally, the President of the IPU Council, Dr Najma Heptulla reiterates the IPU commitment to peace, development and integration. "We will continue our efforts until we achieve our objectives and our dialogue among civilizations and cultures", she said.
Contact in Amman for information and interviews (on the spot or by telephone): Mrs Luisa Ballin, IPU Information Officer. Tel.: 463 7639, fax 462 8430, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com