Mr. Mosé Tjitendero,
Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia
|Mr. Mosé Tjitendero, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia and Vice-President of the IPU Executive Committee presiding over the UN/IPU Day meeting at UN headquarters|
Q: Mr. Speaker, you chaired the meeting of parliamentarians attending the UN General Assembly this year. What are your impressions of the meeting and how do you see it developing?
M. T I was very impressed by the warm reception and the statement by the UN Secretary General showing that there is broad acceptance of the role of the IPU in cooperating and working with the United Nations. The parliamentary voice - the voice of the people - must be an "integral component" of the work of the United Nations, in the words of Mr. Annan. There is clearly a place for the IPU in the overall work of the United Nations and there are actions that IPU can promote in a variety of fields, including peace and security. The second impression is that this is actually the culmination of the Millennium Conference of Presiding Officers organised by the IPU at UN Headquarters in 2000. In my own judgment, it marks the beginnings of a parliamentary culture at the UN similar to the parliamentary hearings that take place in various individual parliaments all over the globe. The annual meeting at UN Headquarters will allow members of parliaments from all over the world to link up with top UN officials and decision makers on issues of mutual interest. I hope we can expand on this activity in the future. I strongly urge national Parliaments to continue to support this initiative.
Q: You also attended the debate in the General Assembly on cooperation between the UN and the IPU. How do you see this cooperation developing and what prospects are there for achieving a new and strengthened relationship between the UN, its subsidiary organs and the IPU?
Clearly, the cooperation between the UN and the IPU will continue to grow and expand in various areas. One such area relates to the need to combat terrorism. Security Council resolution 1373 requires legislative action to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist activities, and prohibit any kind of support to terrorists. This is an area where I think the IPU could be helpful by raising awareness in parliaments of what they have to do.
Other areas relate to major UN Summits taking place next year. The hope of the UN Secretary-General is that two areas of mutual cooperation can be the meeting in Mexico on Financing for Development - one area in which lawmakers can make a very useful contribution through laws ranging from taxation to revenue generation - and the Conference on Sustainable Development that will be held in South Africa next year in September. Mr. Annan has outlined these two specific events in which cooperation between the UN and the IPU could be demonstrated. These kinds of activities and a continuing dialogue between the members of the IPU and representatives of Member States will, I am sure, result in a new and strengthened relationship between the UN, its subsidiary organs and the IPU, which in turn will lead to the granting of observer status to the IPU with the right to circulate documents. This is also my sense from having listened to the debate in the General Assembly during which a large number of delegates spoke about cooperation between the UN and the IPU. Every one of them endorsed the idea of promptly giving the IPU observer status in the General Assembly.
Q: The IPU and UNHCR have just finished a parliamentary handbook on the international protection of refugees which will be presented at the first meeting of States Parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees that will take place in Geneva on 12 December. What should the IPU's message be on that occasion?
I think the IPU's message should be that the publication of this very important tool is intended to help law-makers to hone their law-making skills with a clear understanding that the protection of refugees is the main responsibility of all States. Refugees have their human dignity, and this must not be tarnished. The Handbook itself concisely sums up information laying out the provisions and the reasons for protection, and stipulates that refugees have the right to seek and enjoy asylum in other countries when they flee persecution. I myself was a political refugee. It is on the basis of this experience that I fully endorse the principle that the protection of refugees is a collective human and humanitarian obligation that all States must clearly respect until such time as conditions in a refugee's country of origin have clearly changed so that he or she may return safely to that country.