IPU COOPERATION WITH THE UNITED NATIONS
Issues, activities and partners
The IPU and the UN are working together to implement their policy objectives through many joint activities. These involve not only the United Nations proper, but also a growing number of United Nations specialised agencies and programmes. The partnership between the IPU and the United Nations has focused particularly on such priority areas as democracy, including strengthening of parliaments, human rights, womens issues, and child protection, and also HIV/AIDS, trade and sustainable development.
Strengthening of parliaments
Over the years the IPU has developed a close relationship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that aims at strengthening parliamentary institutions in a number of countries, and particularly those in post-conflict situations. Recent projects to shape and support viable and effective parliaments have included activities in Albania, the province of Kosovo, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea, and Timor-Leste; new projects are expected to be set up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The IPU also works closely with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) through the production of joint publications and seminars, with the aim of making parliamentarians more aware of the international human rights norms that should guide much of their legislative action at the national level.
Much of the IPUs work in this domain aims at building a stronger partnership between men and women in politics and, more generally, in advancing the objectives of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To increase the effectiveness and global reach of this work, the IPU is developing a strong partnership with the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW), with which it has worked already on two major publications and the organisation of specialised seminars and panel discussions held during the sessions of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Several regional seminars, such as those on engendering the budgetary process, have also been supported by UNDP, the United Nations Developpment Fund for Women ( UNIFEM) and the World Bank Institute. The IPU also assists the United Nations by providing up-to-date statistical information on women in elected office.
The IPU works in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), with many joint projects already completed and many more on the drawing board, in order to help establish a culture of child protection through legislation, budgetary allocations, and legal norms. A seminal event in establishing the IPU-UNICEF partnership was the jointly organised Parliamentary Forum on Children during the 2002 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children. The IPU and UNICEF have since been working on a comprehensive programme of activities which include the production of joint publications and the organisation of specialised panels during IPU statutory Assemblies. Recent panel discussions have dealt with the issues of trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, child labour, and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Given the tremendous threat posed by HIV/AIDS to the lives of tens of millions of affected individuals, and the consequent social, economic, and political instability in poor countries with a high concentration of cases, the IPU is increasing its work in cooperation with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to mobilise parliaments to take the legislative action required to implement both preventive and treatment measures. Having already published together a unique product for parliamentarians, the two organisations are now working together on the creation of a Committee on AIDS as a specialised body of the IPU. This new body will pave the way for the creation of a global information clearinghouse linking parliaments and their specialised committees and stimulating exchange of good legislative practices. It will also foster the production of parliamentary newsletters and other information tools to be used by parliamentarians around the world.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND TRADE
Given the central role of trade in generating resources for development, the IPU has established - together with the European Parliament - a Parliamentary Conference on the WTO. The conference, which meets regularly, provides a major opportunity for parliamentarians to put forward their input into trade negotiations while also bringing about greater transparency to such negotiations and to the workings of the WTO itself.
To help address such problems as climate change, desertification, and many other items on Agenda 21 (for sustainable development), over the years the IPU has organised several specialised meetings in coordination with the United Nations or related agencies (the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification). A key partnership is being forged with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) for the establishment of a joint five-year programme of activities aimed at building the capacities of parliaments to interpret and implement international environmental agreements. The programme will consist of training workshops, an online information facility, thematic parliamentary workshops, and the publication of specialised handbooks to help parliamentarians develop practical solutions to the many issues in the field of sustainable development.
For a complete list of meetings that the IPU has coordinated or organised jointly with the United Nations or related organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), please consult the calendar of events. In addition to these meetings, the IPU and the various United Nations specialised agencies have worked together on the production of a growing body of publications, such as:
- Handbook for parliamentarians on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Geneva, 2007) - with the UNDESA and UNHCHR
- Handbook for parliamentarians on Eliminating violence against children (Geneva, 2007) - with UNICEF
- Nationality and Statelessness: A Handbook for Parliamentarians (Geneva, 2005) - with UNHCR
- Human Rights: Handbook for Parliamentarians (Geneva, 2005) - with UNHCHR
- Handbook for Parliamentarians: Combating Child Trafficking (Geneva, 2005) - with UNICEF
- World Map of Women in Politics (Geneva, 2005) with UNDAW
- Handbook on Parliament, the Budget, and Gender (Geneva, 2004) with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank Institute and the United Nations Fund for Women
- A Guide to Parliamentary Practice (Geneva-Paris, 2004) with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
- Handbook for parliamentarians on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (Geneva-New York, 2003) with UNDAW
- Volunteerism and Legislation: A Guidance Note (Geneva-Bonn, 2004) with United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
- Child Protection: A Handbook for Parliamentarians (Geneva-New York, 2004) with UNICEF
- Handbook for Parliamentarians on Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Geneva, 2002) with the International Labour Organization (ILO)
- Refugee Protection: A Guide to International Refugee Law (Geneva, 2001) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- Handbook for Legislators on HIV/AIDS. Law and Human Rights (Geneva, 1999) with UNAIDS