The Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (PCWTO) reaffirmed its support for “an open and rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core”, saying that it believed that “free and fair trade is a powerful engine for growth”. The Parliamentary Conference is a joint initiative of IPU and the European Parliament. In a statement issued at its 41st session held in Brussels on 24 and 25 April 2018, the Committee the Committee urged the filling of existing vacancies in the Appellate Body of the WTO to allow it to do its work effectively.
News in brief
Young people worldwide are having trouble finding work: around 70 million of them are unemployed, according to Gabriela Cuevas Barron, President of the IPU. She was speaking at the Parliamentary Symposium on Jobs during the Global Parliamentary Conference 2018, which took place in Washington DC on 16-17 April 2018. Ms. Cuevas Barron was the guest speaker at a session on Challenges of Youth Employment Today. She stressed the need for better legislation to ensure jobs for young people, one of the targets of SDG8: full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for young people, by 2030.
The IPU and the United Nations Environment Programme will be working together to ensure that parliaments have the tools they need to be able to tackle climate change and environmental degradation effectively. On 12 April 2018, IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, and UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out their joint cooperation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those related to environment and climate change, as well as the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its associated treaties, including the Paris Agreement.
The Common Principles for Support to Parliaments designed by the IPU set out the fundamental principles for planning and implementing programmes to strengthen parliaments, balancing the delivery of external technical assistance with the needs and expertise of local actors. On 29 March 2018, the IPU organized the Second Expert Roundtable on the Common Principles on “Proactive parliaments: Bolstering self-development”.
In a resolution adopted during the 138th IPU Assembly in Geneva, the IPU membership called for the rejection of any unilateral decisions to modify United Nations resolutions and other international agreements dealing with the status of Jerusalem. The membership also urged the international community to make every effort to preserve and maintain the historical heritage of Jerusalem. The IPU resolution concluded by encouraging all sides to relaunch the peace process with the aim of achieving a two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 borders.
The IPU had a strong presence at the 62nd session of the Commission for Women (CSW). Apart from holding a parliamentary meeting, the IPU also held a series of side events on 14 March 2018.
Although rural girls and women made up 40 per cent of all the women in the world in 2015, according to the United Nations, they lack a voice in decision-making. In many countries, they are either not taken into account in national laws and policies, development strategies and budgets, or their needs are insufficiently addressed.
To draw attention to this, the priority theme of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which took place in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018, was the empowerment of rural women and girls. On 13 March, the IPU, in cooperation with UN Women, held a parliamentary meeting at the CSW, entitled “Parliaments deliver for rural women and girls”.
A country’s future depends on the education and nurturing of its children, and child trafficking and labour go against this. To tackle this very real issue, MPs from the National Assembly of Burkina Faso took part in a seminar organized by the IPU in Ouagadougou from 9 to 10 March 2018. The seminar was a follow-up to one held in 2016 at the ECOWAS Parliament, which called for information sessions on the issue to be organized in member country parliaments.
The Parliament of Namibia has made substantive gains in women’s participation, with a significant number of women holding leadership positions. This was one of the conclusions of a self-assessment exercise on gender-sensitive parliaments carried out in Windhoek from 27 February to 1 March 2018. However, work still remains to be done in terms of work-life balance and expectations about the roles of men and women in parliament.
Men and women MPs from Zambia met to tackle child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) at a parliamentary seminar organized jointly by the IPU and the National Assembly of Zambia. This was the first time in the country that male MPs joined their female counterparts in acting on this issue. The seminar, which took place on 24 and25 February 2018 in Lusaka, discussed effective parliamentary responses to CEFM in terms of legislation, oversight, budget allocation and representation.