Backing UN ‘Agenda 2030,’ parliamentary leaders pledge to place democracy at service of sustainable development

President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Saber Chowdhury (right) with women speakers of parliament, who attended the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament at UN Headquarters. Photo: IPU

2 September 2015 – Parliamentary leaders from some 140 countries today declared that the United Nations must remain the cornerstone of global cooperation as an Organization that embodies the ardent hope of people around the world and pledged to place “democracy at the service of peace and sustainable development for the world the people want.”

Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York since Monday, the more than 170 Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliament at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament adopted a declaration today acknowledging that extraordinary efforts would be needed to build a world that people want by turning the tide against the many challenges that undermine democracy, peace and development.

“The world is at a crossroads. The enormity of the challenges that we and our planet face is daunting. We must have the resolve to overcome them. How political leaders respond to the crises that threaten us has perhaps never been as important to our future as now,” said Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President Saber Chowdhury.

The world’s parliamentary leaders committed to bringing parliament closer to the people by tackling the growing public scepticism and disconnect with politics, social and political marginalization, gender inequality and an imbalanced power relationship with government.

They underlined the need for constitutional and institutional reforms in transition countries, social justice, good governance and the respect for human rights, including freedom of speech and assembly.

Meeting just as the United Nations General Assembly today approved a resolution sending the draft ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ to Member States for adoption later this month, the parliamentary leaders in their declaration welcomed the new Agenda and pledged “to do everything in [their] power to facilitate the consideration of relevant legislation and allocation of budgetary resources, and to hold governments accountable for the attainment of the goals.”

“The UN embodies the ardent hope of people around the world for peace and development,” the declaration said.

At the opening of the conference on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged the legislators to help drive forward the new UN sustainable development agenda and ensure that civil society is an equal partner in “building the future we want.”

In an earlier interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Chowdhury said that parliaments have a critical role in translating the new sustainable development agenda into real improvements for the lives of the world’s people.

Meeting against a backdrop of “the countless human tragedies unfolding as people flee wars, conflict, natural and human disasters,” the parliamentary leaders said “when they are forced to do so because their life is under threat the international community has an obligation to provide support.”

In their declaration, the parliamentary leaders called on all States to protect refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants and to help build stable and prosperous societies in their countries of origin.

On a positive note, the legislators also said they “remain optimistic about the road ahead.”

“The negotiations to secure agreement on a new development agenda are ample proof of a shared global commitment to address today’s global challenges,” the declaration read. “Here is a unique opportunity for all of us to work together.”

At the last day of the conference, the Speakers of Parliament adopted the wide-ranging 38-point declaration that covered the myriad challenges the world is faced with today, and pledged: “We, in our parliaments, will do our part by placing democracy at the service of peace and sustainable development for the world the people want.”

The Conference is part of the series of high-level meetings leading up to the UN Summit in late September 2015, at which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched. It will be preceded by the Tenth Meeting of Women Speakers of Parliament, to be held on 29 and 30 August.

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