8 November 2000


Press Release
GA/9813



STRONGER COOPERATION BETWEEN INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION AND UNITED NATIONS SOUGHT IN ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION

20001108

Common Objectives Stressed; Delegates Cite Peace and Security, Democracy, Economic Growth and Development, Human Rights, Social Progress

By adopting, without a vote, a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the General Assembly this morning welcomed the efforts made by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to provide for a greater parliamentary contribution and enhanced support to the United Nations and called for cooperation between the two organizations to be further consolidated.

By the text, the Assembly further requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States and with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to explore ways in which a new and formalized relationship may be established between the Union and the Assembly and its subsidiary organs.

Introducing the resolution, India's representative said the concerns of the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union were common: equitable economic growth, the achievement of international peace and security, democracy, respect for human rights, sustainable development and social progress.

The representative of Nigeria said it was well known that the first victim of any forcible change of government was the legislative branch. In many emerging democracies, the legislative branch was the one with the weakest institutional capacity and memory. Adopting measures at the international, regional and national levels to strengthen and consolidate the activities of this important branch of government was, therefore, important.

A number of delegates, among them the representatives of Ukraine and Burkina Faso, also expressed their appreciation for help from the Inter- Parliamentary Union in the establishment of their democratic institutions.

Germany's representative, in his capacity as Chairman of the “Twelve Plus Group in the Inter-Parliamentary Union”, said the Union's task was to support the United Nations in implementing democracy and the State, based on the rule of law on a worldwide scale, making the implementation of the various programmes more feasible. While the degree of influence and involvement of legislators varied from country to country, all parliaments voted the expenditure necessary


General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9813 55th Meeting (AM) 8 November 2000

for policy and United Nations contributions. Closer cooperation and mutual interaction of both the Union and the United Nations was capable of strengthening the mechanisms for democratic control and legitimization of the United Nations.

The representatives of Belarus, Norway, France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Senegal, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Australia, Iraq, Cuba, Republic of Korea, Malta, Brazil and the Russian Federation also spoke.

The representatives of Israel and Egypt exercised their right of reply.

The Assembly will meet again tomorrow, Thursday, 9 November, at 10 a.m. to take up consideration of the need to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.



General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9813 55th Meeting (AM) 8 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to take up its agenda item on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/409), submitted pursuant to resolution 54/12 of 27 October 1999. The report welcomed the support provided to the United Nations by national parliaments through their world organization and expressed the wish that the cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union would be further strengthened and enhanced in the third millennium.

As part of the continuing effort to intensify dialogue between the two organizations, the Secretary-General and Under-Secretaries-General responsible for political, economic and social and humanitarian affairs held a parliamentary hearing on 26 October 1999. This annual meeting was a practice of long standing and affords members of parliament from all parts of the world an understanding of United Nations procedures and objectives, while allowing the United Nations to hear the views of members of parliament on the substantive issues that it considered.

The report states that over the past five years, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has encouraged parliamentary action in support of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the World Summit for Social Development. In addition, at its conference in Amman earlier this year, the Union continued its support for United Nations disarmament efforts and reaffirmed the importance of parliamentary action to encourage all countries to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty in order to ensure its entry into force as force as soon as possible. The efforts of the United Nations to rid the world of anti-personnel mines continue to be supported by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

On the matter of financing, the Union provided strong support for United Nations efforts to reduce the debt of developing countries and increase official development assistance. Cooperation between the United Nations and the Union was likely to develop on the need for parliaments to ensure that the assessment of action that would integrate economic, social and environmental elements of sustainable development. The Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) had held discussions with a view to establishing a forum through which African parliamentarians could provide input into the development management process. The Inter-Parliamentary Union had adopted a resolution at its conference held in Berlin in October 1999 urging States to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law by negotiating, ratifying and implementing appropriate treaties and establishing mechanisms to enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

At a joint effort to put into practice the memorandum of understanding, signed in July 1999 between the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Office of the High Commissioner and the Union organized, early in August 2000, a subregional north-east Asia workshop on parliaments and human rights. The Union called upon all parliaments to participate actively in the preparations for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in 2001. Working in close cooperation with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-Parliamentary Union continued to provide the United Nations with its expertise in the development of democratic processes and institutions, through the implementation of programmes, primarily in Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. The Division for the Advancement of Women of the United Nations Secretariat worked in close cooperation with the Union on a number of initiatives on gender. In closing, the report notes, working relations between the United Nations Secretariat and that of the Union were strengthened, particularly those with the Department of Public Information.

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/55/L.20), co- sponsored by Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Greece, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, San Marino, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would welcome efforts made by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to provide for a greater parliamentary contribution and enhanced support to the United Nations, and call for the cooperation between the two organizations to be further consolidated.

It would request the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States and with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to explore ways in which a new and formalized relationship may be established between the Union and the Assembly and its subsidiary organs, and to report thereon to the Assembly by May 2001.

The draft would further request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Assembly at its next session on the various aspects of cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

It would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-sixth session the item entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter- Parliamentary Union".

Introduction of draft

KAMALESH SHARMA (India), introducing the draft, said it had been prepared by members of the Executive Committee of the Union itself. The Secretary- General’s report highlighted the intensification of cooperation between the United Nations and the Union, in several areas of concern to the international community. It showed the potential for greater contribution by national parliaments, through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to the work of the United Nations. These sentiments were fully reciprocated by the Union. The Millennium Declaration adopted by heads of State and government also identified the need to further strengthen cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments, through their world organization, in various fields including peace and security, economic and social development, international law and human rights and democracy and gender issues.

Substantially, the concerns of the United Nations and the Inter- Parliamentary Union were common: equitable economic growth, the achievement of international peace and security, democracy, respect for human rights, sustainable development and social progress. He said there was an essential similarity in approach, convergence of actions and, most important, a congruence of the objectives of the two organizations.

Given the fact that the draft had no financial implications for the programme budget, and in view of the resolve of heads of State and government expressed at the Millennium Summit, as also the desire of the Speakers and the presiding officers of national parliaments, to strengthen cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations, he proposed on behalf of all co-sponsors that the resolution be adopted by consensus.

He announced that the following additional Member States had become co- sponsors of the draft: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.

Statements

SERGEI LING (Belarus) said the report of the Secretary-General made it clear that the fields of interaction were constantly broadening. The Inter- Parliamentary Union had become a more active partner of the United Nations in all its activities, implementing many of United Nations initiatives at the level of national parliaments. The Republic of Belarus welcomed the new elements in this year’s resolution related to further improvement of cooperation between the two organizations, as well as the proposal of the Secretary-General concerning further regulations of the relationship between these two unique forums in the whole international system.

He noted that this year was of particular significance for further parliamentary development in the Republic of Belarus, which held its first ever large-scale elections to the Lower House of its National Assembly, and had adopted on electoral code that accumulated most of the experiences of the advanced parliamentary democracies of the world.

ARNE B. HONNINGSTAD (Norway) said parliaments had a legitimate role to play in making the voice of the people heard in international decision-making processes. They could and should give a parliamentary dimension to international cooperation. Moreover, increased interaction between national parliaments and multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, could bring more transparency and accountability to these institutions and enhance their ability to implement policies and programmes that had been agreed. Governments needed support in national parliaments to be effective on the international scene. The world needed a United Nations where citizens felt that they were genuinely represented in their political diversity. The United Nations must have a parliamentary decision.

The Nordic countries, he continued, had chosen to include parliamentarians representing different parties in their delegations to the General Assembly and to special conferences. He recommended this as a general model, as one element in building a parliamentary dimension. The United Nations would also benefit from drawing more heavily on the political expertise of these parliamentarians in connection with the General Assembly and other meetings

HENNADIY UDOVENKO (Ukraine) was convinced that both the Inter- Parliamentary Union and the United Nations had a joint mission in making prosperity, peace and democracy the real universal values in the next century. In the performance of its mandate, the Union had demonstrated that it shared the lofty goals of the United Nations, helping to intensify the dialogue among societies and nations on the pressing issues of international peace and security, human rights, environment and economic and social development.

For Ukraine, joining the Union had had a particular significance, having embarked on the road of the democratic transformation of society. The intensive contacts and continuous exchange of experiences among parliamentarians of all countries were valuable. Presidential and parliamentary elections had been conducted in a democratic fashion; civic peace and public accord had been maintained and had strengthened the foundations of the civil society.

JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking for the European Union and associated States, said the cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union was long-standing. That body had been among the first organizations to obtain general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1947.

He said during the last months, at the highest level, the international community had solemnly reaffirmed its wish to see the role of parliaments in international life confirmed. That wish had been clearly expressed by those elected by the people themselves during the recent Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, whose message had been recalled in the Millennium Declaration.

He said the European Union wished to see full recognition of parliamentary diplomacy towards realization of the objectives of the United Nations. The declaration of the leaders of parliament had confirmed that in the future the voice of parliamentarians could and must be heard in the concert of nations. Adoption of the draft would give parliamentarians of all countries the opportunity to have their voice better heard.

DIETER SCHLOTEN (Germany) spoke in his capacity as Chairman of the “Twelve Plus Group in the Inter-Parliamentary Union”, which encompasses 43 member countries and two Parliamentary Assemblies -- and underlined the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and the Union. According to the Secretary-General, he said, there was no group of leaders better placed to express the interests of their citizens in a global era than the heads of parliament who represented the people of the world. It was clear that the voice of parliaments must be heard and that, if democracy were to thrive at the global level, the people of the world must rise above their differences and unite to pursue the common interest of all humanity. He felt that this parliamentary dimension could and must be provided by the only worldwide international parliamentary organization, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was founded in 1889.

Its task, he went on, was to support the United Nations in implementing democracy and the State based on the rule of law on a worldwide scale, making the implementation of the various programmes more feasible. While the degree of influence and involvement of legislators varied from country to country, all parliaments voted the expenditure necessary for policy and United Nations contributions. Closer cooperation and mutual interaction of both the Union and the United Nations was capable of strengthening the mechanisms for democratic control and legitimization of the United Nations, rather than trying to achieve that goal separately.

In reference to the draft resolution, he said all members of the Union supported efforts to explore a new and strengthened relationship that might be established between the Union, the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs. The United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union should schedule common conferences, which would bring parliamentarians and the General Assembly, as well as United Nations representatives, together in a permanent dialogue, in order to exchange the necessary views to strengthen democracy and common values.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said among the main objectives of the United Nations and the Union was the promotion of development in poor countries. In that connection, the two organizations must cooperate in order to promote an equitable globalization that responded to the interests and aspirations of all peoples. In 1999, at the Berlin Conference, the Union had recognized the necessity for a revision of the international financial structure and had proposed that special initiatives be taken from which developing countries could benefit.

The report of the Secretary-General highlighted the extent and diversity of cooperation between the United Nations and the Union. During the last year, the Union had continued to deal with questions relating to disarmament, international peace and security, economic and social development, the environment, democracy, good governance and gender equality. During the Jordan Conference in April 2000, the Union had renewed its commitment to the disarmament work of the United Nations, and had encouraged the ratification of the comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)as well as the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines.

As Chairman of the Committee of the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he highlighted the remarkable role played by the Union in supporting the Middle East peace process. In that connection, cooperation between the United Nations and the Union was not only significant, but was converging, demonstrating the compatibility in the goals of the two organizations.

MAKMUR WIDODO (Indonesia) said that he attached great importance to enhanced cooperation between the Union and the United Nations, which must become an important norm in the mew millennium. Such cooperation was essential for an effective, vibrant and reformed United Nations that would respond to the concerns and interests of the vast majority of its Member States -- the developing countries. The Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, recently held in New York, had served the dual purpose of generating greater understanding of United Nations purposes by the parliamentarians, while allowing the United Nations to hear the views of parliamentarians on substantive issues considered by the Member States.

The convening of the 104th Union Conference in Jakarta last month had also provided an important milestone in its sustained efforts to make substantive contributions in furthering international cooperation, he said. In adopting a series of resolutions, on issues of global concern and interest, it had called for: the maintenance of constitutional democracy as an essential prerequisite for human rights; the participation of all sectors of society, including women and minorities and other vulnerable segments, in democratic processes; a renewed commitment to dialogue and negotiations in the settlement of internal disputes and divisions; and the promotion of good governance and democracy. In the economic sphere, the Conference called on both developed and developing nations to pursue development with a human face.

Specific areas had been identified in the report of the Secretary-General, such as, cooperation for: the promotion of peace and security; democracy and good governance; and social and economic development. Democracy had become a global movement. There was universal recognition that democratic systems of governance ensured liberty and sought lasting solutions to the political, economic and social problems. Yet, democracy needed time to develop. The United Nations must continue to discuss new ideas and approaches concerning the future promotion of democratic ideals put forward by new democracies, the academic community and civil society.

MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said the Union was created in 1889 and constituted the prime forum for inter-parliamentary agreement at the world level, strengthening cooperation among people and democracy. The organization examined questions of international interest and contributed to a better knowledge of the functioning of representative institutions.

At the start of the third millennium, the principles of representative democracies constituted an abosulute imperative for economic development and peace, he said. No country could remain outside that process. The parliamentary institutions had assumed an increasingly important role as a guarantor of democracy and human rights and in representing the general and national interest. His country had not resisted the winds of democratic renewal. For its young parliament, the Union constituted a framework for information. His country had been chosen to host the 106th inter-parliamentary conference, the main statutory organ of the Union.

MOHAMMED BULKACHUWA (Nigeria) said his country attached great importance to cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union since it had only recently returned to democratic governance after many years of military dictatorship. It was a well known fact that the first victim of any forcible change of government was the legislative branch, since the elected representatives of the people were disbanded by the usurpers of power. The legislative branch in many emergent democracies was the one with the weakest institutional capacity and memory. Measures at the international, regional and national levels were therefore needed to strengthen and consolidate the activities of this important branch of government which, along with executive and judicial branches, formed the tripod on which modern representative democracies stood.

He said Nigeria would like to see a further development of the cooperation between the United Nations and the Union, whose institution-building programmes had been beneficial to a number of African countries in the past. Nigeria hoped that this programme of cooperation and institution-building would continue to be strengthened for the benefit of the African people, many of whose legitimate yearnings and aspirations were yet to be met.

SHAHAB UDDIN (Bangladesh) said that his country welcomed the efforts of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in encouraging parliamentary action in support of the Fourth World Conference on Women, the World Summit for Social Development and their subsequent follow-ups. Bangladesh also appreciated the Unions role in organizing a tripartite consultation of governments, parliaments, and international organizations, on the theme of “'Democracy through partnership between men and women". The Union’s consultations were indeed quite helpful for national parliaments in shaping them as modern legislatures equipped with up-to- date information.

Bangladesh asked for the Inter-Parliamentary Union's involvement in the ongoing Year of the Culture of Peace, and also sought its support during the upcoming International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World. Bangladesh believed that the organization could play a major role in establishing world peace, human rights and good governance, since legislators of all countries could use their respective law-making processes to achieve those goals. His country firmly believed that enhanced cooperation between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations would provide something remarkable for humankind in the dawn of the new millennium.

ALAN FERGUSON (Australia) said that the Inter-Parliamentary Union provided a unique forum for discussion and exchange on a broad range of topics, from international peace and security to the promotion of human rights and the environment. Through its conferences and reports, the Union had the potential to offer the United Nations and other bodies different perspectives -- legislators, perspectives -– from around the globe on issues affecting the international community. A legislator's perspective, like that of the private sector or civil society more broadly, was invaluable to deliberations and decision-making at the intergovernmental level.

Australia, he continued, saw scope for increased coordination of the United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union activities. Under a more formalized relationship, it might be possible for the Union to structure its conferences and work agendas to link into areas of United Nations discussion, for example in studying the impact of globalization, or on developing strategies to fight HIV/AIDS. He noted that the Inter-Parliamentary Union had an effective committee structure that could ably assist the United Nations deliberations through its inquiries and reports. They might be scope for the Union to submit reports to particular committees of the United Nations General Assembly for further consideration. It could also provide input into the deliberations of the United Nations. It could provide a platform for increasing parliamentary understanding of and support for United Nations work. Importantly, the Inter- Parliamentary Union could challenge some of the common -– but often deeply entrenched -– misconceptions about the United Nations, as well as prompt closer parliamentary scrutiny of the United Nations system.

MOHAMMED AL-HUMAIMIDI (Iraq) said that a few months ago, the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments had gathered in the General Assembly Hall. That conference was an important landmark in cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and had emphasized the need for the United Nations to take into account the opinions and decisions of the Union, which reflected the views of the people as referred to in the Charter under the words “We the Peoples”. The voice of the peoples must be heard in the Organization in order to establish a democratic dimension in the international decision-making process.

Cooperation between the two organizations had continued to raise interest in strengthening peace, economic and social development, international law and human rights. The Inter-Parliamentary Union had also addressed the issue of sanctions -- such as those imposed by the Security Council -- in a resolution adopted by its 104th Conference in Jakarta on 20 October. The United Nations should take notice of that resolution. According to its terms, economic sanctions should be avoided; but if imposed, their objectives must be defined precisely and the sanctions should have a time limit. The resolution had included a paragraph on Iraq to the effect that the Security Council should raise its sanctions against his country and re-evaluate the whole sanctions system.

He called upon the United Nations to heed the Union’s appeal, and called upon the Union to pursue the implications of its resolution. He reiterated his view that it was necessary to develop relations between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with a view to strengthening cooperation and partnership. He would join as co-sponsor of the resolution.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said there was no task more urgent than the democratization of international relations; in fact, without it, efforts for peace, development and cooperation would be futile. Moreover, the United Nations had the fundamental responsibility for the achievement of that goal. Parliamentarians throughout the world had reaffirmed recently, at the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, their commitment to the United Nations, its proposals and its principles. Its final Declaration confirmed the necessity of increasing the contribution of parliamentarians to international relations, and in particular to the work of the United Nations.

The Government of Cuba called for greater collaboration between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and felt that Member States and parliamentarians from around the world must broaden their relations in a more productive way. In the report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the two organizations (document A/55/409), the Secretary-General expressed the hope that in future such cooperation would be greater. However, the position assumed by the authorities of the host country -– which had denied visas to some representatives of national parliaments to the Conference of Presidents of National Parliaments -- reflected a lack of commitment to those goals. His country was obliged to refer to the discriminatory treatment accorded by the United States to the representative of the Cuban National Assembly.

He stated that Cuba concurred fully with the fundamental Inter- Parliamentary Union principle that no meeting could be convened if all members were not permitted to participate, which confirmed that the Union was truly an international organization, and reaffirmed the necessity for the full observance of that founding principle. At the same time, Cuba wished to thank the conference participants for their energetic rejection of the arbitrary and discriminatory decision of the host country to deny visas to representatives of some national parliaments. In closing, he reiterated the invitation to all members and observers of the Union to participate in the 105th conference of the Cuban National Assembly, which would be held in Havana from 1 to 7 April 2001.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said he greatly appreciated the Inter- Parliamentary Union for its contribution not only to the promotion of democratic principles in individual States but also to supporting and advancing daunting tasks in every important agenda of global scale. He was of the view that the United Nations would be better able to promote most of its agenda through a cooperative relationship with the Union. His country had been working closely with its National Assembly to honour its commitments to the work of the United Nations, including continued support for peacekeeping operations, particularly in East Timor.

The recent Headquarters Conference sponsored by the Inter-Parliamentary Union had confirmed the guiding principles for meeting the challenges ahead, and had stressed the need for increased parliamentary inputs to the work of the United Nations. The Union had successfully supported the promotion of new norms in such areas as disarmament, economic and social development, human rights and international humanitarian law, the environment and gender issues. However, it could play a more crucial role in establishing new international regimes by encouraging parliaments of individual States to ratify conventions and treaties worked out within the framework of the United Nations system, and to appropriate funds necessary for implementing related programmes and commitments. The Republic of Korea had co-sponsored the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union in the belief that a stronger relationship between the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs and the Inter-Parliamentary Union would indeed contribute to achieving common goals.

JULIAN VASSALLO (Malta) said the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Conference of Presiding Officers had shown that the agendas at the United Nations and national legislatures were linked in many spheres, and also that solutions to many of the challenges with which the world was faced could be achieved only through better mutual understanding and co-operation between those two representative bodies. There was nevertheless a division of labour to be respected -- one which was based on the differing natures of these institutions. The Conference of Presiding Officers served yet another purpose by bringing to mind the working methods of national parliaments and contrasting them with methods used at the United Nations. Perhaps there were lessons to be learned.

He said the differences between the United Nations and national legislatures were clear enough, but he wondered if all the resolutions brought before the General Assembly every year were necessary. Why did national parliaments feel satisfied to pass non-binding resolutions but once, while the United Nations felt that it was important to repeat itself year after year to make the same point? There was scope for the United Nations to take a look at the manner in which it worked and to be prepared to take a leaf out of the book of national legislatures.

GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said the United Nations, as well as the issue of parliaments, was about democracy and society, negotiation and representation -- embracing a wide set of issues, from economic and social development to peace, security and human rights. The Inter-Parliamentary Union helped intensify the dialogue among societies and nations, and thus was a major contributor to the objectives of the United Nations. The participation of parliamentary observers in the General Assembly was a long-standing Brazilian practice. This was a result of the close interaction between domestic and international affairs.

In the economic field, he said, Brazil's international trade profile and the integration of the economies of Latin America were matters of everyday attention by Brazilian Congressmen. In the same vein, legislative initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable development and poverty eradication were in the forefront of congressional efforts in Brazil. In the political and legal field, Brazil's international commitments to disarmament and non-proliferation, and the protection of human rights, were also matters of lively interest to the Brazilian Congress.

AHMED H. DARWISH (Egypt) thanked the Secretary-General for his interesting report on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. It was an important document because, like the United Nations, the Union was composed of peoples of the world and made its contribution at the international level. He felt there was a need to strengthen relations between the two organizations.

He said the holding of the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments at United Nations headquarters in August 2000 was a positive development. The final declaration of the Conference outlined the major challenges confronting the international community, and how parliamentarians planned to meet those challenges. It also recognized the Union’s commitment to the rule of law, democracy, and respect for the individual. He believed it was an expression of the people’s will and urged the international community to heed the voice of the Union.

He noted a resolution passed by the Union, which called for the protection of the Palestinians against Israeli aggression, and supported a restoration of the peace process. The Egyptian Government, he said, looked at the resolution as a clear condemnation of Israel, especially its resort to violence and failure to respect international law. He hoped the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union would be adopted by consensus.

VLADIMIR Y. TARABRIN (Russian Federation) said that the Conference of Presiding Officers of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the eve of the Millennium Summit as the United Nations demonstrated the potential of parliamentary diplomacy, which had become an important component of international dialogue. He said he was glad that national organs of legislative power were more willing to play an active part in finding solutions to the problems facing the world. This work coincided with the work of the United Nations, particularly in areas of international law, human rights, democracy, gender, and economic and social development.

He expressed pride over the participation of Russian parliamentarians in the Conference. The participation was a useful tool to learn about the building of democratic institutions. It had had a favourable influence on the work of the State Duma. The Union had also played a significant role in the START II Treaty and in the nuclear-test-ban Treaty.

The goals proclaimed at the conference of Presiding Officers deserved a more purpose-orientated support, which would promote the further democratization of the international environment. It was also necessary to promote and strengthen civil society.

Action on Draft

The Assembly was informed that Algeria, Bahamas, Bhutan, Colombia, France, Georgia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Norway, Russian Federation, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago and Zambia had joined as co-sponsors of the draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The Assembly then adopted the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

Rights of Reply

CHAIM SHACHAM (Israel), exercising his right of reply, said Egypt had unfortunately used the debate to voice a political attack against his country. The Jakarta resolution did not condemn Israel and had appealed to both sides to return to negotiations. Egypt had hosted the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit, where an Israeli-Palestinian agreement had been reached on ending the violence. That Summit had recognized that no side had a monopoly on the status of "victim" and that both sides must act to bring about an end to the violence.

President Mubarak had spoken there of the need for both sides to return to the peace process. Egypt's statement to the Assembly today, which sought to misrepresent Israel, was unreflective of Egypt’s pronounced and greatly appreciated role in the peace process. Such manipulation only undermined the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Mr. DARWISH (Egypt) said Israel once again attempted to alter his words and had tried to blame the situation on nobody. The Israeli delegate ignored the fact that the violence was a result of the provocative visit of an Israeli official to Al-Haram Al-Sharif and that Israeli forces, armed to the teeth, had then committed violence against Palestinian civilians, with many elderly and children among them.

It was puzzling that Israel ignored the well-established responsibilities which had been cited by United Nations bodies and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Was it possible, he asked that the international community was wrong and Israel was right? Israel could fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time. Israel should work with its Palestinian partners towards establishing a durable peace, based on the principle of land for peace and the relevant Security Council resolutions, and the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to establish their own State.

Mr. SHACHAM (Israel) said it was disingenuous for the representative of Egypt to portray Israeli actions as a threat to the sanctity and integrity of other religious faiths. He believed the current violence was wholly unrelated to any religious dispute. The most blatant attempt to foment religious strife was the recent action of Palestinian gunmen in the village of Beit Jalla, from where they directed fire at the Jewish residents of a Jerusalem neighborhood.

There had been unrelenting focus on the alleged provocation of Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. It was a visit to Judaism’s most holy site, although it was repeatedly portrayed as an affront to Moslems. He did not accept the oft-repeated mantra of various Arab spokesmen protesting the “Judaization” of Jerusalem because there had been a continuous Jewish presence for 3 thousand years.

He referred to the statement of the representative of Egypt on the deaths of Palestinian children which, he said, sought to capitalize on those deaths to win international sympathy. Why, he asked, were the children in the line of fire? He said it was sickening to hear various Arab spokesmen stressing how many children had been killed by Israel, as if to say that each child lost was actually a victory for their struggle.

Mr. DARWISH (Egypt) said Israel was distorting fact. The Israeli delegate spoke of religion and then accused others of speaking of it. He recalled two paragraphs of the resolution adopted by the last Inter-Parliamentary Union

Conference which explicitly mentioned the name of the Israeli official who had visited the Holy Place. Everyone recognized that that visit was the cause of the recent violence. It was unfortunate that the Israeli delegate had not read that resolution and continued to mix up facts.

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