MP voices is a new IPU web section in which MPs comment on some of the key issues affecting parliamentary democracy today.
News in brief
Speakers of South Asian Parliaments agreed to a number of action points including: prioritizing green growth strategies and climate change adaptation; strengthening access to education; and promoting the social inclusion of marginalized, vulnerable groups and differently-abled people. The Speakers of Parliament of Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka met in Colombo from 11-12 July 2018 to discuss progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their region. The focus of the meeting—the third of its kind—was on sustainable, equitable and green economic growth and on creating decent work for all, including young people and persons with disabilities.
With only 12 years to go before the deadline for the 2030 Global Goals, the IPU brought together MPs from North and South at the UN High Level Political Forum in New York from 9 to 18 July 2018. This year’s theme was linked to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 on consumption and production patterns. According to the UN, domestic material consumption is increasing worldwide, rising from 1.29 kg per dollar of GDP in 2000 to 1.41 kg in 2015. This level of consumption is not only draining finite resources but also causing environmental degradation and climate change.
The IPU is saddened by the death of Theo-Ben Gurirab in Windhoek last Saturday. Dr. Gurirab was IPU President from 2008 to 2011. He was a world leader who brought great distinction and wisdom to the position. Dr. Gurirab was a prominent politician in Namibia and one of the architects of the country’s independence. As SWAPO’s representative to the United Nations, he was one of the team negotiating for independence. He held several posts in the young country’s government: Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 2002, Prime Minister from 2002 to 2005, and Speaker of the National Assembly from 2005 to 2015. He also presided over the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Parliaments around the world are increasingly prioritizing human rights and rightly so. Parliaments are uniquely positioned to close the gap between the work of UN human rights mechanisms and implementation at the national level. A recent report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on parliaments’ contributions to the work of the Human Rights Council highlights some good practices to help parliaments better protect and promote human rights.
Last Sunday’s elections in Mexico resulted in gender parity in the Parliament: with almost all the results counted, there are 246 women (48.6%) and 254 men (51.2%) in the Chamber of Deputies and 65 women (50.78%) and 63 men (49.22%) in the Senate. A provisional IPU calculation shows that Mexico has moved up from 9th to 4th place in the world ranking of women in parliament.
Georgia is among the countries at the forefront of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. The Government has established national indicators and targets to monitor progress. The Parliament plays a crucial role in achieving the targets through its oversight of the Government’s efforts and by ensuring that the most vulnerable populations are not left behind. The Parliament has also adopted the Open Government Partnership Declaration underlining its commitment to openness, transparency and citizen engagement.
Young people are vastly under-represented in political decision-making. Although 51 per cent of the world’s population is under 30, young people under 30 make up less than 2 per cent of the world’s MPs. This is largely due to laws that do not allow young people – although they have the right to vote – to have the right to run for office. In a historic step, on 31 May 2018, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the Not Too Young to Run Bills that reduce the age that young people can run for elected office by five years in each category. The minimum age to become president in the country is now 35; 30 for governor and senator; and 25 for a member of the House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly.
With only 12 years to go, members of parliament from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia met in Belgrade last week to discuss how they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
What role can parliaments play in achieving universal health coverage and global health security? A vital one - according to a technical briefing co-organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva.