The General Assembly this morning recommended that cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union be strengthened, at a time when the Organization was preparing to meet the challenges of the next century. It took that action by adopting, without a vote, a resolution sponsored by 95 Member States.
In addressing the Assembly, several speakers stressed that strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union was vital because it involved locally elected officials in international decisions. They said parliamentarians could bring people closer to the work of the United Nations and thus increase awareness and support among their constituencies for its goals.
The representative of Italy said cooperation between the two organizations had already produced highly significant results, especially in such areas as women's participation in political life, the provision of technical assistance and advisory services to parliaments, good governance and the protection of human rights.
The representative of India said his country had enacted many measures to ensure women participated more fully in the country's political life. One third of all seats in municipal governments and village bodies were reserved for women and, as a result, more than a million women were active in politics.
Other representatives noted that local parliamentarians could also sensitize the United Nations about the expectations of their people. Pakistan said the Inter-Parliamentary Union was uniquely placed to build bridges between civil society and the United Nations, which needed to become more accessible to new actors, including non-governmental organizations.
Statements were also made by Zambia, Argentina, Russian Federation, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Tunisia, Egypt, Singapore, Norway, Andorra and Belarus.
Also this morning, the President of the Assembly announced that Togo had made the necessary payments to reduce its arrears below the point which would have resulted in the suspension of its voting rights in the Assembly.
The Assembly will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m., Wednesday, 29 October, to consider the report of the Security Council.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this morning to begin consideration of cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). It had before it a report of the Secretary-General and a draft resolution on the item.
A report by the Secretary-General (document A/52/456) highlights the increasing collaboration between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union since the conclusion of a cooperation agreement on 24 July 1996, and outlines various cooperative activities by the two organizations. In the promotion of peace and security, the Union has supported issues such as the emergency situation in Albania; the United Nations five-point peace plan for Zaire; the Joint United Nations/Organization of African Unity Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region; securing a settlement for Cyprus; the worldwide ban on anti-personnel mines and the call for funding the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.
The United Nations system works closely with the Union to promote representative democracy, the report continues. The IPU has supported the Organization on issues such as: the participation of women in political life; technical assistance and advisory services to parliaments; promotion of good governance and arrangements for the International Conference of Governance for Sustainable Growth and Equity; human rights; the harmonization of national legislation; child labour, commercial and sexual exploitation of children and the protection of children in armed conflict.
The report highlights the follow-up to major United Nations conferences as another area which receives support from the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Responding to the Assembly's recognition of the important role of national parliaments in implementing the outcomes of major United Nations conferences, the Union has been involved in various follow-up activity. Sustainable development, implementation of Agenda 21, food, hunger, social development and poverty, employment, the advancement of women and political participation by civil society are some areas which have seen cooperation by the Union and the United Nations system.
The report concludes that the past year saw a strengthening of cooperation between the United Nations system and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Recent cooperation agreements between the Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) build upon the agreement between the United Nations and the Union, and advance cooperation between parliaments and governments at the international level. The Secretary-General notes in his programme for reform that parliamentarians are significant in the constituencies that are important to the Organization and which warrant special consideration. National parliaments which work together at the world
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level through the IPU, have a major role to play in the pursuit of United Nations goals.
By the terms of the 88-Power draft resolution (document A/52/L.9) the Assembly would decide to include the item entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union" on the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session and would ask the Secretary-General to report then on various aspects of their cooperation. The Assembly would recommend that the cooperation between the two organizations be further strengthened at a time when the United Nations is preparing to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.
The sponsors of the text are Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.
INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) introduced a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
E. AHMAD (India), said parliamentarians contributed to the effective implementation of United Nations Conferences and Summits. The Inter- Parliamentary Union and the United Nations cooperated on promoting peace and security, and democracy. The world organization could use the Union's experience in promoting democracy. Recently the Union adopted a Universal Declaration on Democracy, which could guide their common endeavours.
He went on to say the full participation of women in the economy and their political empowerment was a guarantee of democracy. India had enacted many measures to achieve that goal, including reserving one third of all seats in municipal governments and village bodies for women. More than one million women had thus become active in politics. India also organized a Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on Partnership between Men and Women in Politics in February 1997. An equal number of men and women from more than 80 parliaments took part.
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He said India believed that cooperation between the Union, which included elected parliamentarians, and the United Nations was necessary, because it involved locally-elected officials in deliberations of the international community. The Union supported United Nations reforms, but he stressed that those reforms could not be a substitute for the provision of resources to carry out the Organization's mandate. They could not be a cost- cutting exercise. Several conferences of the IPU had called on the international community to provide the United Nations with the necessary financial, technical and human resources.
PETER KASANDA (Zambia) said that the Secretary-General's report showed that the Inter-Parliamentary Union was actively promoting the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations at regional, sub-regional and international levels. The Union was helping to bring the ideals of the United Nations closer to world communities. Evidence of this truth could be seen in the composition of governing and opposition parties in national delegations at various IPU meetings. The Secretary-General had rightly observed in his report that parliamentarians were a key group within constituencies that were acquiring growing importance in the United Nations and which warranted special consideration. Quoting the Secretary-General's conclusion that the Union had a major role to play in the pursuit of the Organization's goals, he said his delegation hoped the draft resolution would meet the unanimous approval of the Assembly.
DON FERNANDO PETRELLA (Argentina) said the Secretary-General's report gave many examples of cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter- Parliamentary Union. The progress and deepening of that process had great perspectives for international relations. The signing of the cooperative agreement between the two organizations on 24 July 1996 was a vital starting point which would bring the two organizations closer to their objectives. The goal of cooperation was to strengthen the work of the United Nations and democracy within States. The Secretary-General's report cited IPU support for such actions as the work of his good offices in Cyprus, efforts to achieve a worldwide ban on anti-personnel land mines and the promotion of democracy. Cooperation between the United Nations and the Union had increased. That cooperation extended to follow-up to major United Nations conferences. The draft resolution, of which his country was a sponsor, was in line with an international scenario that aimed to strengthen parliamentary democracies.
VLADIMIR YAKOVLEV (Russian Federation) commended cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations at conferences. The increasing number of international meetings of parliamentarians with United Nations agencies marked a new stage in the relationship of the two organizations. The IPU could contribute to the reform process of the United Nations. In turn the granting of technical aid by the United Nations to the Union was very important, as was cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Drugs, human rights and security were areas of common interest where cooperation should continue. He said Russian
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parliamentarians expected stronger links between the Union and the United Nations, and were pleased their next joint conference would take place in the Russian Federation. Cooperation between the two organizations was having a real effect on the local level. In its short life, the Inter-Parliamentary Union had proved it could help solve issues of peace and security, and eliminate pockets of tension in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The United Nations and the Union had also cooperated to fight organized crime in the CIS.
MARIA LOURDES V. RAMIRO-LOPEZ (Philippines) said the cooperation agreement between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations had proven to be an important step towards opening up new areas of cooperation and mutually reinforcing action between both organizations in addressing global problems. The Philippines was pleased at the support given by the Union to efforts to secure a worldwide ban on anti-personnel mines.
The adoption in Cairo by the IPU of recommendations for parliamentary action on child labour, commercial and other forms of sexual exploitation of children and the protection of children in armed conflict would contribute to United Nations and country efforts in combating those matters. The Union had also reinforced the Organization's efforts in promoting the status of women and their participation in social life. She said the role of civil society in promoting international cooperation should be promoted through the vehicle of United Nations/IPU cooperation. The Philippines recommended that the Assembly adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
SOO GIL PARK (Republic of Korea) said that with a membership of 135 national parliaments from every region and a wide spectrum of legislatures the Union represented a broad range of the world's collective public opinion. As States became more and more independent, parliaments were playing an increasingly important role in formulating national and foreign policies, including those dealing with international relations. Since its foundation in 1989, the Union had made an invaluable contribution to the spread of democracy and the promotion of peace and human rights. Together, the two organizations carried enormous weight in international affairs and closer cooperation between them would only improve their efficiency and ability to achieve their common goals.
He welcomed the agreement between the Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Hopefully, inter-institutional coordination could be further strengthened through additional agreements with other members of the United Nations family. The 97th Inter-Parliamentary Conference last April in Seoul had recognized the need for national parliaments to support United Nations actions through the adoption of a resolution entitled "cooperation for world and regional security and stability, as well as respect for all forms of sovereignty and the independence of states". Many of the resolutions adopted at Seoul also stressed the importance of cooperation between the two organizations in dealing with global issues.
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NAZIA BEN-YEDDER (Tunisia) said the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations had cooperated on promoting peace, security and representative democracy, and in follow-up to major United Nations conferences. The Union had made a real contribution to the campaign to ban landmines, and the pursuit of efforts to bring peace to many strife-torn countries, including Albania and many nations in Africa. The Union was also focused on Cyprus. The Union's biggest contribution, she went on, was the promotion of representative democracy. The IPU supplied the United Nations with technical assistance to help parliaments in developing countries. In 1997, the Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) co-sponsored the Parliamentarians' Forum, which brought together legislators from some 75 countries.
She noted that at its September conference in Cairo, the IPU had passed a resolution recommending measures to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The text called on parliaments to make sure international and regional human rights conventions were ratified. The Cairo conference was also an opportunity to pass resolutions on protecting children in armed conflicts, and had focused its attention on the problems of child labour and exploitation.
The United Nations, she went on, had stressed the importance of winning support from national elected assemblies to promote social and economic development. Parliamentarians were increasingly active in international affairs. Tunisia firmly supported cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations, and was pleased with the new energy that had developed between the two organizations.
PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union had increased since the signing of their cooperative agreement on 24 July 1996. National parliaments were being called on to play an increasing role in international cooperation. The ideals of democracy that parliaments embodied should inspire and govern relations both within States and between them. At its conference in Seoul in April, the IPU adopted several important resolutions dealing with United Nations matters, particularly on security issues and the emergency situations prevailing at the time in Albania and the then Zaire. The Union's campaign for a worldwide ban on landmines deserved support.
He said cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations had already produced highly significant results, especially in such areas as women's participation in political life, the provision of technical assistance and advisory services to parliaments, good governance and the protection of human rights. The IPU meeting in Cairo last September set the basis for concrete initiatives to ensure prompt ratification by parliaments of international and regional human rights treaties, national implementation of international human rights standards and the protection of children. It also adopted a Universal Declaration on Democracy, containing the basic elements for the exercise of democratic government, and addressing the international dimension of democracy.
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FATHI ELBARADEI (Egypt) noted that the report of the Secretary-General stated that cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union had been strengthened with several examples of joint and mutually reinforcing actions. He hoped the IPU would continue to support the United Nations in issues such as inter-communal disputes within nations, which prevented the Organization from playing its main role. He cited Afghanistan and Somalia as examples.
He noted the adoption by the IPU at its conference in Cairo of five major decisions that supported United Nations action, and said the involvement of the IPU in issues such as the environment, development, social development, agriculture and the advancement of women were wider areas of cooperation that should influence cooperation in pursuit of common goals. Such issues as terrorism and the spread of high technology weapons of mass destruction posed threats to international security and should be addressed by parliaments of the world.
KAREN TAN (Singapore) said her country was especially pleased that cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations had been extended to the participation of women in politics. Singapore also welcomed the increasing support received by the United Nations from the Union in the area of technical aid to parliaments at the request of national governments.
The United Nations was not a world government. Sovereign power was still in the hands of individual nation states. The people's views could no longer be ignored. That was where the IPU had a role to play in cooperation with the United Nations. National parliaments must decide whether to implement decisions States had taken internationally.
She said the active participation of parliamentarians was needed in the debate on the United Nations' financial situation. One reason for the problem was the unwillingness of elected national bodies to support the share of the burden which was the responsibility of their countries. Greater cooperation between the Union and the United Nations could help convince those bodies to support efforts to pay their fair share to the Organization. Parliamentarians could explain to the public the issues involved, thus mobilizing popular support for international action. With greater cooperation, the voice of the inter-governmental process could be heard at the grassroots level. The result would be a "win/win" situation, which Singapore fully supported.
CHAUDHURY ABDUL GHAFOOR (Pakistan) said the United Nations should be proud of its invaluable contributions in several crucial areas, such as peace- keeping, economic development, humanitarian assistance and the establishment of legal norms. However, it was disheartening that it had not lived up to people's expectations. Despite its shortcomings, people still looked to the United Nations to help them rid the world of war, and also to create the necessary economic and social conditions to enable them to aspire to better
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standards of living in greater freedom. In this context, parliamentarians could sensitize the United Nations about the expectations of their people.
Parliamentarians from all countries should launch campaigns to bring awareness among their constituencies about the United Nations role in today's world. He said there had been a growth in civil society, with citizens increasingly inter-acting with each other on matters of international significance. The United Nations needed to become more accessible to the new actors, including non- governmental organizations which represented civil society. The Inter-Parliamentary Union was uniquely placed to build bridges between the United Nations and civil society, and could mobilize public opinion in favour of the Organization. The parliamentarians of major troop- contributing countries might consider the establishment of an IPU forum on United Nations peacekeeping operations which could mobilize world support for those activities.
JAKKEN BIORN LIAN (Norway) said the agreement between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union provided a useful platform for the involvement of parliaments in the work of the Organization. The impact of the United Nations work could be enhanced by parliaments playing an active role in advancing issues of international concern. The cooperation agreement reflected a promising development -- the growing importance of parliaments in shaping the global agenda on urgent issues such as human rights, democratization, good governance and electoral assistance.
He noted the efforts by parliaments to achieve a ban on inter-personnel mines stating that it was an effort that had been spearheaded by the Norwegian Parliament. The role of parliaments in the areas he identified was clear. They could pass legislation and allocate resources in support of such legislation. His Government hoped that cooperation between the United Nations and the IPU would be strengthened in the future.
JULI MINOVES-TRIQUELL (Andorra) said his country, a co-sponsor of the draft resolution, took a personal interest in cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union because its own parliament dated back to 1419.
He said the process of United Nations reform was geared towards taking the work of the Organization closer to the people. That was why more contact of all sorts was necessary between national parliaments and the United Nations. Increased cooperation between the IPU and the world organization would mobilize public opinion in favour of the United Nations and all it was seeking to achieve. Moreover, a deeper understanding by parliamentarians of the goals and inner workings of the United Nations would favour a true reform of the Organization.
He said national parliaments were especially qualified to promote human rights and development and, therefore, could only gain from closer cooperation
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with the United Nations. They were "legitimately elected emanations of the people's will", and final arbiters of budget allocations which had clear repercussions on economic development. That was another reason Andorra was a co-sponsor of the resolution.
NIKOLAI CHERGINETS (Belarus) said cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union would, it was hoped, ease the problems facing the countries of his region. He cited Chernobyl and stated that one third of his country's budget was spent trying to eliminate the effects of that disaster. What was important about an international organization was the effectiveness of its action. He stressed the equal participation of Belarus in various international cooperations. His country was prepared to give support to various cooperative activities, and proposed to hold a joint United Nations/IPU conference there. Issues that might be addressed included, among others, narcotics and trafficking, international peacekeeping, ecology and the environment.
The Assembly President announced that the following countries had joined the list of sponsors of the draft resolution: Guyana, Guinea, Mali, Benin, Nepal, Israel and the Marshall Islands. The Assembly then adopted the draft without a vote.
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