Although a special debate during the IPU Assembly will tackle citizenship, identity, linguistic and cultural diversity in a globalized world, there will be questions too on how to protect political diversity, not least within IPU’s own highly varied political membership.
“What we are seeing is a world that is becoming increasingly and more frighteningly divided along political, religious, racial and linguistic lines. Positions are too entrenched. We must all do what we can to end these schisms. IPU can and does have an important part to play on this,” says IPU President Abdelwahad Radi.
More than 1,300 participants, including nearly 670 MPs and Speakers of parliament from around the world, are expected to attend the 127th Assembly hosted by the Canadian parliament in Quebec City between 21-26 October.
IPU Assemblies have historically proved to be a unique forum bringing together all of the IPU membership and observers, including countries in conflict with each other or politically isolated. The ability to talk and listen to each other has long been valued as a first step in bringing peace.
The respect and protection of religious diversity in particular is also one of three emergency items being proposed for IPU members to act on. Proposed by the United Arab Emirates, it calls for an international agreement that would criminalize religious defamation.
Syria and Mali have respectively proposed emergency items on the violence against Christians and other minorities in Syria and the situation regarding institutions and security in Mali. IPU members will decide on which emergency item can be debated upon on the first day of the Assembly. A resolution will be adopted on the closing day of the gathering.
In an event-packed Assembly, participants will tackle other peace-related issues such as how to build peace in countries after conflict; safeguarding civilian lives, and ways for MPs to support nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
A plan of action on ensuring gender parity within parliaments and their decision-making bodies, as well as improving the working environment of a predominantly male institution by transforming its working methods, structures and internal culture will also be adopted during the 127th Assembly.