Press Release

IPU Assembly to highlight parliaments as early responders to human rights abuses

Geneva, 18 October 2016

MPs from 138 countries will convene next week in Geneva to determine among other issues specific ways in which parliaments can respond effectively to serious human rights violations and their underlying causes, including human rights situations likely to lead to conflict.

Meeting at the 135th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly (24-27 October), more than 700 MPs, including 67 Speakers of Parliament and 41 Deputy Speakers, will attend this global parliamentary conference to address the role of parliaments as early responders to human rights abuses. Parliamentarians should be at the forefront in raising the alarm and taking action when serious human rights challenges arise.

No country is immune to human rights violations. Across the world, marginalization, political exclusion, religious intolerance, poverty, and undue restrictions to fundamental freedoms such as the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, are prevalent. Failure to address human rights challenges runs counter to national and international obligations, and creates a breeding ground for conflict if abuses become more widespread and serious.

What mechanisms can IPU establish to help address human rights situations that could lead to violent conflict? How to counter the tendency to give respect for human rights even lower priority when conflict erupts? How can parliaments better draw on women’s involvement and leadership in resolving human rights challenges? These will be some of the issues MPs will focus on during the five-day Assembly.

IPU’s 135th Assembly marks the 40th anniversary of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which works to protect or seek redress for MPs whose rights have been abused, and is currently investigating more than 450 cases around the world.  

On the basis of two key principles – “Never give up” and “Help us to help parliamentarians under threat” - the Committee has examined 2,500 cases in 109 countries since 1976, working tirelessly to persuade and pressure the authorities until a solution is found. The anniversary will be also the opportunity to call on MPs to demonstrate greater parliamentary solidarity with those peers whose fundamental rights have been violated.   

During the Assembly, IPU will release a study showing alarming levels of sexism and violence against women MPs throughout the world. The study also indicates violations of the rights of women parliamentarians need to be brought more systematically before the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

The Assembly will cover many additional issues. These include the UN response to allegations of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, the role of parliament in preventing outside interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States and the role of MPs in countering the activities of vulture funds. It will also look at the promotion of enhanced international cooperation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference, and the need to build partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective.

The 135th Assembly will convene several IPU bodies including the Forum of Women Parliamentarians (#womenMPs), the Forum of Young Parliamentarians (#youngMPs), the Committee on Middle East Questions as well as the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, and is expected to approve a revised IPU Strategy - Strong democratic parliaments serving the people – for 2017-2021.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

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Find out about the many other issues and events of the 135th Assembly by accessing the agenda and background documents.

Take part in or follow the Assembly debates through Twitter using #IPU135

Picture editors: Photos from the Assembly will be available for free download and use at:

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