On 27 February 2018, IPU Secretary-General Martin Chungong addressed the High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council. The Council was holding its 37th session in Geneva.
In his speech, Mr. Chungong emphasized the close links between the work of the Council and parliaments. “From the outset, we have argued that parliaments are natural partners of your Council,” said Mr. Chungong. “For your deliberations and decisions to become truly meaningful they must translate into action within your countries”. This link has been recognized in two Council resolutions on the role of parliaments. Mr. Chungong said he hoped that this would lead to greater involvement of parliamentarians in the Council’s work.
The IPU has been encouraging parliaments to engage with the Council’s agenda, for example, through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Organization’s efforts have resulted in more parliaments becoming involved in their countries’ UPRs, with MPs participating in the national delegations that present their reports to the Council.
Mr. Chungong stressed the importance of functioning, representative parliaments in safeguarding human rights. “A parliament that truly represents the full diversity in society and that has the means at its disposal to represent the views of its constituents and hold government to account is a very powerful tool to avoid conflict, overcome divisions in society and uphold human rights,” he said. It is crucial that these institutions are supported and the human rights of MPs protected, so that they can function effectively. The IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians defends and offers redress to MPs who have had their human rights violated.
A truly representative democracy must involve all its citizens, especially women and youth. Mr. Chungong reiterated the IPU’s commitment to contribute from a parliamentary perspective to the Council’s resolutions on women and youth empowerment.
Mr. Chungong reiterated the importance of the Council working closely with parliaments. “Your agenda correlates closely with that of parliaments. At the heart of what goes on in parliament is a desire to uphold and preserve the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual. The IPU therefore encourages you to reach out to parliaments in a more systematic manner. We have a standing commitment to assist in this endeavour.”
To watch the speech, click here.