As part of its work to help strengthen parliaments, the IPU carried out a mission from 12 to 16 February to Port Vila to assist the Parliament of Vanuatu to assess its needs.
News in brief
24 February 2018 marks one year since Philippines Senator de Lima has been in detention. The IPU is deeply concerned about her long incarceration and, through its Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, renews its call for her release. The IPU continues to believe that the legal steps taken against Senator de Lima are in response to her vocal opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
Parliaments have a critical role to play in addressing some of the issues on the global agenda and helping to translate international commitments into national realities. This makes the partnership between the IPU and the UN a natural one. On 22 February 2018, IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron and Secretary General Martin Chungong met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to review the status of UN-IPU cooperation and examine opportunities for further engagement. The meeting took place in New York in the context of the 2018 Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations on migration.
Mr. Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, welcomed Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), at the IPU Headquarters on 20 February 2018. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus took up his post as Director-General in May 2017, and this was his first official meeting with Mr. Chungong.
The IPU High-Level Advisory Group on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism (HLAG) has been established to serve as the global focal point for parliamentary activities related to counter-terrorism. At its first meeting in Geneva on 5-6 February 2018, the Group approved a programme to be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC).
Parliaments are instrumental in ensuring the implementation of the SDGs and therefore should be closely involved in the process. It was in this context that a self-assessment exercise on SDGs was carried out by the Malian National Assembly, using the IPU-UNDP toolkit, Parliaments and the Sustainable Development Goals. Mali is the first African country to undertake this exercise. The self-assessment was organized by the IPU and took place in Bamako, Mali, on 24 and 25 January 2018.
The IPU Advisory Group on Health visited Rwanda to learn what the Parliament has been doing on reproductive health, to document good practices to share with the global parliamentary community and make recommendations to the Parliament on strengthening its work on reproductive health. The visit took place from 24 to 27 January 2018.
There should be more women in parliament: this was the consensus of a parliamentary conference organized by the IPU and the National Assembly in Cotonou, Benin, from 18 to 19 January 2018. Women’s representation in parliament has been traditionally low in Benin. The conference therefore reviewed way in which to boost the percentage in view of impending elections in April 2019.
IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong recently received the Ambassadors of Austria and Thailand at the Organization’s Headquarters. He has been actively reaching out to the diplomatic community in Geneva, considering the Permanent Missions in Geneva as a useful conduit between the IPU and parliaments back in the various capitals.
Today, 258 million people live outside their countries of birth. Managing migration to ensure benefits to both countries of origin and destination, as well as migrants themselves, is a formidable challenge. Responding to this, the United Nations is in the process of negotiating a Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration that will be formally adopted at a conference in Morocco in December. This year’s Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations will contribute from a parliamentary perspective to the Global Compact.