Save the economy and preserve human dignity
Almost every day citizens question politicians about the negative impact of the financial crisis on their daily life. “Governments have found money to save the banks but in many cases they are unable to help citizens who lose their jobs”, is an oft-heard complaint in the media. The situation is explosive. Millions of jobs are at risk, with consequences that nobody can predict. What can the representatives of the people do to prevent the financial crisis from leading to marginalization and discrimination?
The underlying global economic crisis is an explosive human rights crisis: a combination of social, economic and political problems has created a time bomb of human rights abuses, said Ms. Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, on presenting a report which indicates that human rights are being relegated to the back burner in pursuit of global economic recovery.
The consequences of the 1929 crisis were devastating. Will they be the same this time? Economic recovery will be neither sustainable nor equitable if governments fail to tackle abuses that drive and deepen poverty, or armed conflicts that generate new violations, warns Ms. Khan.
Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Joseph Stiglitz, believes that parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, have the power to demand accountability. They can require the banks to be more transparent and more responsible; they can demand that governments impose systems of checks and balances on the financial system. They can also demand respect for the rights and the dignity of the most vulnerable citizens, who are at risk of being marginalized through poverty. The time has come for legislators to use this power.
Read in the pressMP-elect Al-Mutawa promises to back colleagues on development
“I will consult my constituents if I am offered a seat in the Cabinet”. [Kuwaiti] MP-elect Adnan Mutawa assured that he will consider the ideas of those who voted him into the National Assembly, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily. Speaking to the daily, Al-Mutawa said he was expecting the endorsement of suspended regulations and projects during the first meeting of the new parliament, indicating he will support development in coordination with his colleagues. Meanwhile, MP-elect Naji Abdullah Al-Abdullah is quoted as saying the new parliament requires honesty and cooperation on issues concerning the government and the National Assembly, reports Al-Rai daily. “Kuwait has entered a new era after four women won seats in the parliament”. In a statement, Al-Abdullah vowed to pursue the needs of those who voted him into the National Assembly and to support visions that will transform the country. In the meantime, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, welcomed the election of women for the first time ever to the Parliament of Kuwait. On 16 May, four of the 50 seats up for election were won by women. “This is an historic turning point which attests to the progress made by Kuwait in recent years in terms of women's political participation. Partnership between men and women in the conduct of public affairs is at the core of democratic governance. The IPU applauds this achievement and looks forward to working with the parliament and its newly elected women members,” said Gurirab. According to the Geneva-based IPU, in the Arab region, women account for an average of 9.1 per cent of all members of parliament, in contrast to the global average of 18.4 per cent.
Arab Times and Kuwait News Agency - 18 May 2009
“All should do their part”
Excerpt: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's speech to the Finnish Parliament For over a century your great country, and this parliament, has been a pioneer in democracy. Having both extended universal suffrage and the right to stand for election to all your citizens in 1906, before any other country, you continue to set an example for us all today-with women accounting for almost half your parliament and over half your cabinet. You show us that gender parity is not only possible; it is preferable! The results prove it. For this leadership we owe you a debt of gratitude. Here, where once East faced West in confrontation, Finland now shows us all how to live in peace and prosperity, without succumbing to complacency. You continue to show the way in cutting-edge social, political, and economic innovation. Here in this house of democracy, you take decisions that affect not only the lives of every Finnish citizen, but also of people all over the world… The parliamentary voice must be heard. We at the United Nations want to work with you, and I welcome the good and growing cooperation with the Inter- Parliamentary Union that has developed in recent years...
Helsinki Times (Finland) - 28 May 2009
The “voiceless” have strong words on the global financial crisis
UNCTAD's first public symposium on the global economic crisis opened with a chorus of demands for significant international reaction so that poor countries and people are not ignored as the global financial crisis plays out. There also were repeated calls for significant reforms to prevent similar crises in the future…Anders B. Johnsson, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said that “Parliaments have some soul-searching to do” on why they did not have regulations in place to prevent the financial abuses that led to the crisis, as they were public monitors of their governments' management of national economies. “Tighter financial controls are needed”, he said, adding that “We must reinforce the regulatory control of greed.” A better balance also is needed between the functioning of markets and the overall wellbeing of countries and their peoples.
The FINANCIAL (Georgia) - 12 June 2009
Inter-Parliamentary Union calls for nuclear non-proliferation
Addis Ababa. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which brings together 154 Member Parliaments, appealed on Friday to countries in possession of nuclear weapons to make deeper and “irreversible” cuts to their arsenals and to redouble their efforts to combat nuclear proliferation. The IPU “calls on all nuclear-armed States to make deeper, faster and irreversible cuts”, according to a resolution adopted on Friday at the close of the 120th IPU Assembly in Addis Ababa, a copy of which AFP obtained. The instrument goes on to say that the IPU “urges all States to redouble their efforts to prevent and combat the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction”. The international organization invites States to negotiate a “treaty on the prohibition of short-range and intermediate-range land missiles that carry nuclear warheads”. Lastly, the parliamentarians expressed particular concern at the situation in the Middle East, calling for it to be “declared a nuclearweapon- free zone, without exception”. Israel has never publicly acknowledged that it has a nuclear arsenal and has always refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which aims to build international cooperation in the area of nuclear energy for civilian use. The 120th IPU Assembly, which commenced its work in Addis Ababa on 5 April, closed on Friday after gathering over 500 parliamentarians from around the world.
Agence France Presse (AFP) - 10 April 2009
Senator Sheila Finestone: in memoriamThe IPU was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Canadian Senator Sheila Finestone. Members of our organization will long remember Senator Finestone for her commitment and dedication to the causes of gender equality and respect for human rights and humanitarian law. Sheila was a true firebrand. She spoke up fearlessly in defence of women everywhere. She did an enormous amount to support women's participation in politics and public life, as well as help the IPU develop its own programme for partnership between men and women in politics. She was also at the forefront of many humanitarian causes, playing a leading role in championing the international land mine convention. The IPU salutes Sheila Finestone with admiration, respect and affection.