United Nations

A/53/458


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

5 October 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                            A/53/458
       
                                                            Original: English
       
       
General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Agenda item 28
Cooperation between the United Nations and the
  Inter-Parliamentary Union


          Cooperation between the United Nations and the
                    Inter-Parliamentary Union


                  Report of the Secretary-General


        I.     Introduction


1.   The present report is submitted pursuant to General
Assembly resolution 52/7 of 28 October 1997, in which the
Assembly noted with appreciation the increased cooperation
between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary
Union (IPU) and recommended that that cooperation be
further strengthened, at a time when the United Nations was
preparing to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

2.   By the same resolution, the Assembly decided to
include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-third session
the item entitled "Cooperation between the United Nations
and the Inter-Parliamentary Union", and requested the
Secretary-General to submit a further report to the
Assembly at that session on various aspects of cooperation
between the two organizations in implementation of the
cooperation agreement concluded by them in 1996 (see
A/51/402, annex).


       II.     Cooperation between the United Nations 
               and the Inter-Parliamentary Union


3.  Cooperation between the United Nations and IPU has
been further strengthened since the Secretary-General
submitted his most recent report (A/52/456) and the past
year has seen several examples where the two organizations
undertake joint and mutually reinforcing action. This
development has been significantly facilitated and assisted
by the opening of the IPU Liaison Office with the United
Nations in New York in March 1998.

4.  As part of its action to provide parliamentary support
to the work of the United Nations, IPU is planning a
conference of speakers of national parliaments in the year
2000. This welcome initiative is intended to be held in
conjunction with and provide parliamentary support to the
proposed Millennium Assembly to be convened by the
United Nations in September 2000.

5.  The period under review also saw a strengthening of
the cooperation between IPU and organizations of the
United Nations system, such as the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO). With regard to the latter two organizations,
with whom IPU concluded formal agreements of
cooperation in the first half of 1997, IPU contributed to
their respective General Conferences. As regards ILO,
discussions have been initiated towards the conclusion of
a formal agreement of cooperation.

6.  The Secretary-General welcomes the developments
outlined in the preceding paragraphs as a means of ensuring
strengthened collaboration between IPU, the United Nations
and the organizations of the United Nations system.


        A.     Promotion of peace and security


Prevention of conflicts

7.   At the IPU Conference held in Windhoek in April
1998, IPU expressed support for the United Nations in a
resolution on the prevention of conflicts and the restoration
of peace in war-torn countries. The Conference called for
support to be provided to the Secretary-General of the
United Nations in his efforts to reform and strengthen the
mechanisms of the United Nations that deal with conflict
prevention and early warning. The resolution also contained
important recommendations for the protection of and
assistance to refugees and on the strengthening of
democratic processes. At the Conference, IPU also
discussed and adopted a resolution on the situation then
prevailing in Kosovo, in which it expressed support for
Security Council resolution 1160 (1998) of 31 March 1998
and made recommendations for measures to ensure a lasting
and peaceful solution to the crisis. The Secretary-General
was represented at the Conference by the Under-Secretary-General 
for Political Affairs.


Cyprus

8.   The Union expressed its continued support to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations in his mission of
good offices to secure settlement of the Cyprus problem. At
its Conference held at Windhoek in April 1998, IPU
strongly urged the European Union to continue to strive to
involve the Turkish Cypriot community in the accession
negotiations on the basis of the United Nations framework
for the settlement of the Cyprus issue, and reiterated that
progress towards a politically negotiated settlement is
linked to progress on military issues. Further, IPU has
continued to advocate and promote contacts at the level of
political parties and at all levels of civil society as an
important element in bridging the existing gaps.

Security and cooperation in the Mediterranean

9.   Sustained action to promote security and cooperation
in the Mediterranean has been pursued by IPU. In June
1998, IPU held a specialized meeting on facilitating access
to information and cultural exchanges in the Mediterranean,
which is also one of the issues covered by the General
Assembly of the United Nations. The meeting was part of
the preparations currently under way for a third IPU
conference on all the issues covered by the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean.


Anti-personnel mines

10.  The Union has also continued its campaign to provide
support to United Nations efforts to secure a worldwide ban
on anti-personnel mines. It provided parliamentary presence
and support at the Treaty Signing Conference and Mine
Action Forum held at Ottawa from 2 to 4 December 1997
and, at its Conference held at Windhoek in April 1998, IPU
called for the earliest possible entry into force of the
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling,
Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on
their Construction and the adoption of the requisite national
legislation and regulations to secure full respect for its
provisions. A global parliamentary inquiry on action to that
effect is under way.


        B.     Promotion of representative democracy


11.  The promotion of representative democracy is an area
in which IPU has developed considerable expertise through
its permanent programmes. It is a field where it works
particularly closely with the United Nations.


Normative action

12.  Taking stock of its experience in promoting
democracy, IPU in 1997 concluded a study on democracy,
its principles and achievements, and subsequently prepared
and adopted the Universal Declaration on Democracy (see
A/52/437, annex IV). The Declaration, which sets out the
basic principles of democracy, the elements and standards
for the exercise of democratic government and the
international dimension of democracy, was part of the
contribution by IPU to the debate in the General Assembly
on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of
Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored
democracies, following the Third International Conference
of New or Restored Democracies on Democracy and
Development, held at Bucharest, from 2 to 4 September
1997.


Institution-building

13.  At the national level, the United Nations has been
receiving considerable support from IPU in the provision
of advisory services and technical assistance to parliaments.
Sometimes, this activity is carried out in the context of a
peacekeeping mission as part of international efforts to
resolve a conflict situation. In other instances, support is
provided at the direct request of the Parliament concerned
or the United Nations resident coordinator. The Union is
currently implementing projects otherwise seeking to extend
such support to national parliaments in Burundi, China,
Ethiopia, Fiji, the Gambia, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao
People's Democratic Republic, Malawi, Mauritania,
Rwanda, Viet Nam and Yemen.

14.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
works closely with IPU as part of its promotion of their
mutual objective of good governance. The Union often
provides technical assistance and other support to UNDP
projects aimed at assisting parliaments. In April 1998,
UNDP and IPU worked together at a meeting of presidents
and senior parliamentary leaders from African parliaments,
which took place at Harare. The subject of the meeting was
the contributions that parliaments can make to democracy
in Africa and the mechanisms for strengthening inter-parliamentary 
cooperation on the continent. The United
Nations Development Programme and IPU are planning to
conclude in the near future arrangements for a multi-year
parliamentary support programme that will considerably
expand cooperation in four areas: technical assistance for
parliaments, promoting partnership between men and
women in political life, promoting inter-parliamentary
cooperation, and providing guidelines for assistance to
parliaments based on an evaluation of past experience.

15.  An Asia-Pacific regional conference of parliaments
and the media, to be held at Ayutthaya, Thailand, in March
1999, will be organized by UNESCO and the Thai
Parliament and sponsored by IPU. The aim of the
conference is to bring together legislators and the media of
the Asia-Pacific region to discuss a partnership between
them in promoting a culture of peace.


Gender issues

16.  One of the core components of the work of IPU to
promote representative democracy is its action in favour of
partnership between men and women in society in general
and in political life in particular.

17.  In close coordination with the Special Adviser on
Gender Issues and Advancement of Women and the
Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of
Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations
Secretariat, IPU is currently collecting data on national
measures to give effect to the Beijing Platform for Action, 1/
with special reference to women's participation in the
political decision-making process. A tripartite meeting of
representatives of parliaments, Governments and
international organizations is planned on the occasion of the
special session of the General Assembly to be held in June
2000, as a means of generating increased synergy in
following up the commitments made by States at Beijing.
The process will also be fed by the outcome of a vast series
of interviews of women politicians throughout the world,
carried out by IPU with the support of UNESCO and
leading, in December 1999, to an event to be jointly
convened by the United Nations, UNESCO and IPU, at
which an equal number of male and female representatives
of Governments and parliaments and of various sectors of
society will study the input and impact of women on the
democratic process.

18.  The Union further continued to extend support to the
United Nations with a view to securing the universal
ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women 2/ and the lifting of
any reservations limiting its effect, and the adoption of the
requisite legislation and regulations to secure respect for its
provisions. At its Conference held at Windhoek in April
1998, IPU took special action to secure the presentation to
the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women of timely and detailed national reports on the
implementation of the Convention. The Inter-Parliamentary
Council also called upon the members of the parliaments
of those States parties which had entered reservations to the
Convention to enquire about their validity with a view to
their being lifted, and expressed support for the adoption
of an optional protocol to the Convention and the
introduction of measures which would allow its entry into
force as soon as possible. The Union submitted a statement
relating to these actions to the Committee at its nineteenth
session, held from 22 June to 10 July 1998. In order to assist
in the implementation of these actions, the Committee
designated one of its members as a focal point for liaison
with IPU.

19.  At the instigation of IPU, a substantive paper on the
human rights of women in the international legal framework
was prepared by the Division for the Advancement of
Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs
of the United Nations Secretariat for the 100th IPU
Conference, held at Moscow from 6 to 12 September 1998.

20.  As in previous years, IPU also contributed to the work
of the Commission on the Status of Women, as well as to
the work on gender issues of the Commission on Human
Rights and the Economic and Social Council.


Human rights

21.  The Union and the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights have established close
cooperation in the context of the celebration of the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The purpose which guided both organizations has been to
encourage the stronger involvement of parliaments
throughout the world in the promotion and protection of
human rights, which may produce tangible results at the
national level and stimulate international cooperation in this
area. At the urging of IPU, many parliaments around the
world have participated in special events, held hearings or
debates on human rights issues in special plenary sittings
and several of them reported on increased budgetary
allocations for human rights. The United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and IPU are preparing to
follow up on these activities with a comprehensive
programme to provide parliamentary support for human
rights into the twenty-first century.

22.  At its 161st session, held at Cairo on 16 September
1997, the Inter-Parliamentary Council adopted, without a
vote, a comprehensive resolution on the fiftieth anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The
resolution outlines future-oriented practical action to be
undertaken by parliaments. It underscores that all States
have a duty to seek, in cooperation with the United Nations,
universal respect for and observance of all human rights,
and reaffirms that human rights are a matter of legitimate
international concern. The United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General
of IPU addressed a letter to all parliaments of the world,
encouraging the implementation of the resolution.

23.  The 100th Inter-Parliamentary Conference held at
Moscow from 6 to 12 September 1998 had, as one of the
two major topics on its agenda, "Strong action by national
parliaments in the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure the
promotion and protection of all human rights in the twenty-first 
century". The Inter-Parliamentary Council adopted a
resolution, with the same title, in which it expressed full
support for the work of the United Nations system. The
purpose of the Conference was, inter alia, to review the
results of the implementation of the resolution adopted at
Cairo. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights and IPU will cooperate in the follow-up to the
Moscow Conference.

24.  During the period under review, IPU continued its
support to the various human rights mechanisms by, for
example, contributing to the work of the Commission on
Human Rights and its Subcommission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, to the human
rights segment of the Economic and Social Council and to
the work of specific United Nations working groups and
special rapporteurs dealing with human rights questions.

25.  The Union also extended support to the International
Conference for the Establishment of an International
Criminal Court, where it called for a court that would be an
efficient and effective tool for the defence of the rule of law
all over the world. At the 100th Inter-Parliamentary
Conference, the Council adopted a resolution urging the
early signature and ratification of the Statute of the
International Criminal Court by all States which had not
already done so and recommending the parliaments of those
States to work actively towards that end.


        C.     Sustainable economic and
               social development


26.  The Inter-Parliamentary Union continued to provide
strong and concrete support to the major international
conferences or summit conferences organized by the United
Nations to address issues relating to sustainable economic
and social development.

27.  Within the framework of the cooperation agreement
signed with FAO, and as a follow-up to the
Parliamentarian's Day held in Rome on 16 November 1996
during the World Food Summit convened by FAO, IPU
organized the convening of a specialized inter-parliamentary 
conference on the issue of attaining
objectives of the World Food Summit through a sustainable
development strategy. The conference will take place in
Rome, from 29 November to 2 December 1998. As part of
its cooperation with IPU, UNESCO will also take part in the
conference.

28.  Following its participation in the special session of the
General Assembly on the follow-up to the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development, IPU adopted
a declaration on declining official development assistance
and financial aid in general, in which it made
recommendations relating to the adoption of strategies
which are aimed at improving the performance of
development assistance and restoring donors of official
development assistance.


Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development

29.  The Union provided support to the follow-up of the
World Summit for Social Development. At its Conference
held at Windhoek in April 1998, the Inter-Parliamentary
Council adopted a political declaration on the need to give
substance to the social development commitments
undertaken at the World Summit. It also decided to
undertake a review of parliamentary action to implement the
results of the Summit. Further, it proposed that IPU
organize, together with the United Nations, a tripartite
meeting of representatives of parliaments, Governments and
intergovernmental organizations to review the progress
made since the convening of the World Summit.


HIV/AIDS

30.  At its Conference held at Windhoek, IPU expressed
support for the United Nations in a debate and resolution
on action to combat HIV/AIDS. In the resolution, IPU
reaffirmed the principles set out in the World AIDS
Strategy, which were endorsed by the General Assembly,
and called for parliamentary action to support a variety of
efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. The resolution also foresees
a closer future working relationship between the United
Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency
Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and IPU,
particularly with regard to the provision of parliamentary
support for the development of legal standards in this field.


                 III. Concluding remarks


31.  The Secretary-General is encouraged by the increased
cooperation between IPU and the United Nations and looks
forward to the continued collaboration between the two
organizations with a view to finding ways to address the
complex challenges of a new globalized era.



                            Notes


          1/   Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing,
               4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No.
               E.96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.

          2/   General Assembly resolution 34/180, annex.

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