In May this year, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/72/278, recognized the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. The resolution called on the United Nations system and Member States to work more closely with parliaments as well as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on issues relating to human rights, health, gender equality, peace and youth empowerment.

Parliaments and the United Nations

According to the report by the UN Secretary-General on the interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Member States have encouraged the growing involvement of parliamentarians and parliamentary organizations in the work of the United Nations. Indeed, there is a recognition that when parliamentarians perform their duties in an inclusive, accountable and effective manner and work closely with the United Nations, it empowers the Organization to work more closely with the people of the world, which in turn facilitates the communication of their concerns and aspirations to the United Nations.

This is because parliaments are uniquely placed to promote coherence between national and international agendas. Parliaments can pass legislation that gives effect to international commitments, adopt budgets that advocate for those commitments to be implemented and create accountability for the fulfilment of Governments’ pledges to the international community and to their own citizens. The role of parliaments in holding Governments accountable gives them a critical responsibility to help create honest and responsive Governments, which is a priority concern for people around the world.

Parliamentary organizations play a leading role in promoting the engagement of parliaments in United Nations processes and activities. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as the world organization of parliaments, connects national parliaments in order to promote greater transparency, accountability and participation at the global level. Along with other parliamentary organizations, IPU engages with the United Nations on activities that cover a broad range of issues, including peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.

Parliaments and the SDGs

Parliaments and parliamentary organizations played an active role throughout the negotiations on the post-2015 development framework, advocating strongly, for instance, for the inclusion of goals related to democratic governance. Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. Following the finalization of the 2030 Agenda, the focus of cooperation between the United Nations, national parliaments and parliamentary organizations has now firmly shifted towards implementation.