General Assembly Welcomes Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Strengthened Support to UN; Encourages Close Cooperation in Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights

29 May 2012
GA/11245

General Assembly Welcomes Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Strengthened Support to UN; Encourages Close Cooperation in Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights

29 May 2012
General Assembly
GA/11245
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

111th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Welcomes Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Strengthened Support to UN;

Encourages Close Cooperation in Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights

Consensus Text Also Recommends New Cooperation Agreement;

Resolution on Report of International Criminal Court Also Adopted

Welcoming efforts made by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to provide a greater parliamentary contribution and enhanced support to the United Nations, the General Assembly today encouraged closer cooperation between the two organizations, particularly to help strengthen parliamentary institutions in countries emerging from conflict or undergoing a transition to democracy.

Through a consensus resolution, the Assembly also called on United Nations country teams to develop a more structured and integrated manner of working with national parliaments by involving them in, among others, consultations on national development strategies and on development aid effectiveness.  The United Nations and IPU were encouraged to continue working closely in various fields, such as peace and security, socio-economic development, human rights and democracy.

The resolution, introduced by the representative of Morocco, called for the regular annual exchange between the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and the senior leadership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, with a view to helping forge a strategic partnership between them.  It also recommended that a new cooperation agreement between the two organizations be drawn up, to reflect progress and developments since the original pact was signed in 1996.

Ahead of that action, Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser said that since the Millennium Summit, the United Nations system had been engaging more systematically with national parliaments through IPU.  Moreover, parliaments were increasingly involved in the review and implementation of international commitments, and IPU continued to provide space for members of national parliaments to discuss ways to contribute to major United Nations processes.  To promote further interaction, he would consult with Member States in the coming weeks regarding which activities would best benefit from robust parliamentary participation.

“In our work at the United Nations, we need to pay more attention to how we are engaging with national-level parliaments,” he said, calling for the strengthening of parliamentary capacities and involving them in national dialogue and reconciliation.  “Every parliamentarian has experience and innovation to share, and each of us has a responsibility in bridging the divide between the UN and parliaments and between parliaments and civilians,” he said, reaffirming his belief in the essential role of parliamentarians in helping realize and implement the policy work of the United Nations.

In his statement, Abdelwahad Radi, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the nature of the relationship between the United Nations system and national-level parliaments needed to change.  Parliaments were more than recipients of technical assistance; they were political players with voices that really mattered, especially when it came to national development strategies or budget oversight.  “If we are serious about democratic governance, then parliaments need to be acknowledged, respected and included in the national consultations on matters of crucial interest for the citizens they were elected to represent,” he said.

Noting that he came from North Africa, “a region undergoing fundamental changes towards greater political transparency and accountability,” he said IPU’s core mission was to promote democracy and help build strong parliaments.  As such, throughout the past year, the organization had been reaching out and responding to requests — from Egypt to Tunisia, Bahrain to Libya and Oman — to help strengthen their parliamentary capacities.  He was pleased that the resolution called for greater cooperation between the United Nations and IPU in support of such national parliaments.

“We see cooperation between the United Nations and IPU as a two-way relationship,” he said, describing such interaction as a partnership that was mutually beneficial and mutually reinforcing.  “We still have a lot of work to do, but we feel we are on the right track in developing a parliamentary dimension to the work of the United Nations,” he said, adding that IPU looked forward to working with the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination towards revising the cooperation agreement between the two organizations, which was “vastly outdated”.

In other action today, the Assembly adopted a consensus text on the report of the International Criminal Court, dealing with the Hague-based body’s work in 2010 and 2011.  The resolution welcomed that report and called on States Parties to the Rome Statute that had not yet done so to adopt national legislation to implement obligations under that treaty and to cooperate with the Court in the exercise of its functions.  It also emphasized the importance of cooperation with States that were not parties to the Statute, and also invited regional organizations to consider concluding cooperation agreements with the Court.

Recalling the referrals of situations to the International Criminal Court already made by the Security Council, the Assembly also invited all States to consider contributing voluntarily to the bearing of expenses related to investigations or prosecutions of the Court, including in connection with situations referred to it by the Council.  States were encouraged to contribute to the Trust Fund established for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court and the families of such victims.

Speaking in his national capacity after introducing the text, the representative of Japan welcomed the seven new States Parties that had joined in the fight against impunity since the Assembly’s adoption of the previous resolution, namely Grenada, Tunisia, the Philippines, Maldives, Cape Verde, Vanuatu and Guatemala.  A new chapter for the International Criminal Court would open, as 2012 marked its tenth anniversary.  As the Court’s next decade began, cooperation by all States, including those not parties to the Rome Statute, was necessary to help it cope with the many challenges lying ahead, such as those related to non-cooperation, victims assistance, ratification of the crimes of aggression clauses, referral by the Security Council and the budget.

Today’s meeting began with the Assembly taking note of a 24 May letter from the Secretary-General informing the Assembly President that Swaziland had made the payment necessary to reduce its arrears below the amount specified in Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations.  [Under that Article, a Member State in arrears cannot vote in the General Assembly “if the amount of the arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two years”.]

Speaking on the Inter-Parliamentary Union were representatives of Uruguay, Indonesia, Egypt, United States, Mongolia, Mexico, India, Romania, Uganda, Russian Federation and Iran.

The representative of Sudan spoke after adoption of the text on the International Criminal Court.

Background

The General Assembly met this morning to hold a debate on the report of the Secretary-General on interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (document A/66/770), and to take action on a relevant draft resolution (document A/66/L.45).  The Assembly was also expected to take action on a text on the report of the International Criminal Court (document A/66/L.47).

Statement by Assembly President

In opening remarks, NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER, President of the General Assembly, said that today’s meeting was more than a discussion about the institutional relation between two organizations; it sought to exam how the United Nations related to the global parliamentary system.  At the Millennium Summit, the United Nations system had been encouraged to engage more systematically with national parliaments through their world organization, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).  Since that time, and particularly following the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit, legislatures were joining delegations to participate in United Nations events and to promote implementation of international commitments.  Parliaments were increasingly involved in the review and implementation of international commitments, he added.

In addition, IPU was also convening meetings parallel to those convened by the United Nations, including last years’ Fourth World Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in Istanbul, Turkey.  The organization had also been providing a space for members of national parliaments to discuss input to major United Nations processes, including towards active participation in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. He went on to note that IPU had also supported his efforts to promote the principle of mediation and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

He noted that the draft before the Assembly called for IPU’s annual hearings to be more closely linked to major United Nations processes to promote integration of parliamentary viewpoints in them.  He would, therefore, be consulting with Member States in the coming weeks to consider which United Nations process would best benefit from robust parliamentary participation and input.  “In our work at the United Nations, we need to pay more attention to how we are engaging with national-level parliaments,” he said, calling for the strengthening of parliamentary capacities and involving them in national dialogue and reconciliation.  “Every parliamentarian has experience and innovation to share, and each of us has a responsibility in bridging the divide between the UN and parliaments and between parliaments and civilians,” he said, reaffirming his belief in the essential role of parliamentarians in helping realize and implement the policy work of the United Nations.

Introduction of Draft on Interaction with Inter-Parliamentary Union

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) introduced the resolution on interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, noting that the Assembly had traditionally adopted similar texts biannually.  It had been crafted with the assistance of IPU, and while it reflected the tenor of past resolutions, some changes had been made to enhance the relationship between the two organizations, including IPU’s participation in the preparatory processes of major United Nations meetings and conferences.

He said that United Nations country teams were called on to develop a more structured manner of working with national parliaments, including by involving them in consultations on national development strategies and on aid effectiveness.  The United Nations was encouraged to more systematically avail itself of the unique expertise of IPU and its member parliaments in strengthening parliamentary institutions, particularly in countries emerging from conflict or in the transition to democracy.  Such efforts would be most vital in light of the recent changes sweeping many regions of the world.

Statements

JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay) said that international law, including the United Nations Charter, and the rule of law at a national level, were two sides of the same coin, and the parliamentary institution was the fundamental actor that allowed societies to benefit from both.  Uruguay’s Parliament had done a significant work on those fronts.  His Government was convinced that it was essential to strengthen the relation with national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, at a time when the United Nations aspired to maintain and increase its credibility, legitimacy and relevance.  To begin with, existing instances should be utilized; for example, making better use of the annual joint parliamentary hearings between the General Assembly and IPU, a forum which should aim for a real interaction between parliamentarians, diplomats, United Nations staff and academics.

Uruguay was one of the eight pilot countries in the United Nations “Delivering as One” programme, he said.  The executive branch of his Government understood the pertinent role the legislative branch could play in that process and it could deepen.  That entity had already participated at least in two joint projects: one about the cooperation for the development of outputs for the design and implementation of the communication strategy of the parliament with civil society, in the framework of the projects on decentralization and citizen participation; and another linked to the support for strengthening gender institutions in the structures, procedures and practices of the Uruguayan Parliament, in the framework of the project that intended to support public policies for the reduction of gender inequalities.  The Government shared the vision about the critical role that national parliaments could play in the effective application of the national ownership notion associated with the agenda of peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict.  The participation of parliamentarians in national programmes of reconstruction and development, in moments when political stability was fragile, was essential in bringing sustainability to peace processes.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said his country had since 1996 strongly supported the strengthening of the institutional relationship between the United Nations and IPU, and witnessed the productive cooperation between the two organizations in various areas, including democracy and human rights, gender equality, sustainable development and international peace and security.  On the strength of that cooperation, Indonesia had also thrown its support behind the more structured parliamentary component to the work of the United Nations that had been initiated through the General Assembly’s December 2010 resolution on cooperation between the United Nations, national parliaments and IPU.

Indonesia also attached great importance to the United Nations-IPU cooperation in promoting the role of women in parliament, he said.  About 30 per cent of the current members of the Indonesian Parliament were women.  A few years ago, the country had been led by a woman President.  Indonesian membership, as well as its active roles in IPU, was a testimony to its determination to promote the increased contribution of parliaments in helping Governments address global challenges.  Indonesia was delighted to co-sponsor the draft.

OSAMA ABDUL KHALEK (Egypt) said his Government had always supported efforts to enhance the United Nations interaction with IPU and its member parliaments.  In fact, Egypt had introduced the first draft resolution on such interaction in 1996, as well as the elements of the 2005 World Summit Outcome on parliaments.  Parliaments played an important role in promoting the Organization’s efforts in a broad range of areas, including food security, gender mainstreaming and development.  The role of IPU was equally important in promoting peace and tolerance among all cultures and religions.  Egypt believed that IPU could contribute in the overall effort to meet the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and he hoped that cooperation between the United Nations and IPU would continue to be strengthened in the future.

RUSS CARNAHAN, House of Representatives, United States Congress, said his Government recognized the close ties shared between the United Nations, national parliaments and IPU.  With 162 national members, IPU played a vital role in bringing those local parliaments together to assess the advance of democracy and promote the rule of law and the rights of women, among other vital endeavours.  It also helped nations better understand democracy and to build effective national legislatures, which were essential to enhance national participation in international organizations and mechanisms.  Such work would be especially vital for the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, which had recently undergone vast changes.  The United States was pleased to join consensus on the text being adopted today, and the Government hoped to continue its interaction with IPU.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said engaging parliaments in major United Nations conferences through the IPU-led parliamentary dimension had proved to be critical, not only in terms of incorporating their views and concerns in the proceedings and outcomes, but more importantly in facilitating the building of political support for the subsequent implementation of those outcomes.  Mongolia supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to more systematically facilitate a substantive parliamentary component to major international processes, especially in light of the post-2015 development agenda and its implementation.

Parliaments’ closer involvement in and oversight of international commitments were another important area of greater potential interaction, she continued.  Parliaments had a wide range of tools at their disposal to ensure that national laws, policies and actions reflected the principles and obligations undertaken by Governments at various international conferences.  Further, she commended the important work carried out by IPU in support of the human rights treaty bodies, including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Council.  Also, greater involvement of parliaments in the elaboration of national development strategies was critical for their effective implementation, both in terms of enabling the legal environment and allocating necessary resources.  In Mongolia, both the Millennium Development Goals and the Millennium Development Goal-based comprehensive development strategy had been developed with the participation of the Parliament, had been subsequently adopted by its resolution and thus had become a law.

YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) said the Assembly’s debate recognized the contribution of parliaments to the work of the United Nations and the wider international community to ensure better governance and promote human rights and gender equity, to name but a few.  IPU had been vital to that effort, and the organization had been effective in energizing national-level parliaments to participate in the achievement of international objectives.  Such participation had been vital to the work of the United Nations.  IPU should also participate in the debates of the Human Rights Council and other major United Nations organs.  Finally, she stressed that the work of national parliaments enhanced international efforts, and the draft before the Assembly should be supported by all.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said his country was the world’s largest democracy, and it, therefore, had placed great interest in the work of the General Assembly and IPU.  India believed that IPU “has done yeoman’s service” over the past decade or so in promoting closer coherence and interaction with the United Nations and its work in areas such as peacebuilding, human rights, gender equality and social development.  Of particular relevance was the role IPU and its member parliaments were playing — and should continue to play — related to the promotion of multiculturalism.  He said that India also supported IPU’s role in promoting international commitments.

Parliaments and their members had a wide array of tools at their disposal to ensure that national laws, policies, actions, programmes and budgets reflected the principles and obligations contained in various international instruments, as had been most evident in the context of gender issues and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  An important pillar of the ongoing interaction between IPU and the United Nations was the practice of various Member States of including legislators as members of national delegations to the world body’s meetings and conferences.  India, for its part, had ensured that some of its finest parliamentarians participated in the work of the Assembly and other major organs and substantive committees.  India intended to continue that practice, as it had been very useful for the visiting legislators, as well as for the diplomatic delegation.

EUGEN VICTOR MIHUŢ (Romania) stressed the crucial role IPU played in bringing together legislative bodies and legislators from all continents to the work of the United Nations.  As a co-sponsor of the resolution on the interaction among national parliaments, the United Nations and IPU, Romania supported a more systematic engagement of the United Nations with IPU in integrating the parliamentary component into major United Nations deliberative processes and into reviews of international commitments, in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 Assembly resolution 65/123.  Cooperation among national parliaments, the United Nations and IPU was of the utmost importance for all parties, a “win-win” process, due to the fact that solid parliamentary support for the United Nations and for the implementation of multilateral agreements boosted the United Nations global role and kept national parliaments connected to topical international issues.

The architecture of the next generation of global development goals should benefit from a substantial parliamentary contribution, he said.  The international system should aim to strengthen the rule of law, democratic governance and parliamentary involvement as it identified viable solutions to major global issues and worked towards their implementation.  The Parliament of Romania was an active contributor to the debate on the drafting of IPU resolutions addressing many issues, such as the fight against organized crime; the transparency of financing political parties and election campaigns; ensuring sustainable development through management of natural resources, agricultural products and demographic changes; and enhancement of women’s and children’s health.  His delegation fully supported a new cooperation agreement between the United Nations and IPU, in order to better reflect the deepening and widening interaction between the two bodies.

BEATRICE KERONGA PACUNEGA MANANO (Uganda) said she was convinced that enhancing cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments, in particular through IPU, would mobilize parliamentary support for the United Nations and contribute to implementation of multilateral agreements and the reform of global governance.  There was no doubt that global action was required to respond more effectively to challenges transcending national boarders, such as the financial and economic crisis, food price volatility, energy deficits, climate change, terrorism and transnational crime, among others.  Uganda had been honoured to host the 126th IPU Assembly in Kampala, from 31 March to 5 April, under the theme “Parliaments and People: Bridging the Gap”.  The conference had adopted a number of resolutions on key issues, including ownership of international agendas, good governance and access to health as a basic right.  With the target date for the Millennium Development Goals nearing, and many developing countries, particularly in Africa, unlikely to meet the targets by 2015, she called on IPU to intensify its efforts in mobilizing parliamentary support towards fulfilment of the commitments.

DMITRY A. REPKOV (Russian Federation) said the extensive programme of Russia’s legislative assembly was integral to the country’s foreign policy, particularly its efforts to implement international agreements.  The Russian Federation viewed the Inter-Parliamentary Union as a facilitator for broadening international cooperation, by bringing together parliamentarians of different States.  The steady convergence of the work of the United Nations and IPU was “palpable”, as interaction between the two organizations had been bolstered in such areas as human rights, the rule of law and social development.  The text before the Assembly today was an important tool in strengthening such interaction, especially to help countries build national legislatures and promote the rule of law.  The Russian Federation was pleased that the text noted such interaction, as well as the need for IPU to strengthen its work in post-conflict countries.

SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI MOTTAGHI NEJAD (Iran) said that resolutions and decisions adopted at the United Nations appealed to IPU and national legislatures to work towards the implementation of such decisions.  Considering the current developments in international relations, IPU now faced greater responsibilities and duties.  Interaction between the United Nations and IPU had been successful up to now, but it was necessary to assess how such cooperation could be enhanced, perhaps through encouraging more frequent meetings between the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of IPU.  IPU should work more closely with the United Nations and Iran was certain that the text before the Assembly would better strengthen such interaction and cooperation.

ABDELWAHAD RADI, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said his organization had come a long way in the decade since it had been granted observer status in the work of the Assembly.  Together, the United Nations and IPU had made significant achievements and, more and more, parliamentarians and parliaments were playing an active role in implementing international commitments.  Perhaps one of the most systematic forms of such interaction had been taking place in the context of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  IPU worked with national parliaments of the countries being reviewed so they could take part in the process, provide input to the national report, attend the sessions of the monitoring Committee and receive the findings for consideration and action.

Based on that experience, IPU was keen to develop similar forms of engagement with other United Nations treaty bodies, as well as with the Human Rights Council, particularly in the context of that body’s Universal Periodic Review process.  He went on to highlight other areas of interaction and cooperation between the two organizations, including through the parliamentary track to the 2011 Conference on the Least Developed Countries, where many parliamentarians from those countries had provided input regarding national progress on implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action.

Looking ahead, he said the nature of the relationship between the United Nations system and national-level parliaments needed to change; indeed parliaments were more than recipients of technical assistance, which was how they were most often viewed.  Rather, they were political players with voices that really mattered, especially when it came to national development strategies or budget oversight.  “If we are serious about democratic governance, then parliaments need to be acknowledged, respected and included in the national consultations on matters of crucial interest for the citizens they were elected to represent,” he said.

Noting that he came from North Africa, “a region undergoing fundamental changes towards greater political transparency and accountability”, he said IPU’s core mission was to promote democracy and help build strong parliaments.  As such, throughout the past year, the organization had been reaching out and responding to requests from a wide group of countries — from Egypt to Tunisia, Bahrain to Libya and Oman — to help strengthen their parliamentary capacities.  He was pleased that the text before the Assembly called for greater cooperation between the United Nations and IPU in support of such national parliaments.

He said that the United Nations had been gradually opening up to other major stakeholders, especially civil society and the private sector, thus helping to bridge the “democracy gap” in international relations by promoting accountability and transparency.  Enhanced partnership with IPU had brought its own benefits helping to make the United Nations work more accessible to legislators, while at the same time allowing a measure of parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.  “We see cooperation between the United Nations and IPU as a two-way relationship,” he said, describing such interaction as a partnership that was mutually beneficial and mutually reinforcing.  “We still have a lot of work to do, but we feel we are on the right track in developing a parliamentary dimension to the work of the United Nations,” he said, adding that IPU looked forward to working with the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) to build greater coherence and to revising the cooperation agreement between the two organizations, which he called “vastly outdated”.

Following that statement, the Assembly adopted by consensus draft resolution contained in document A/66/L.45.

Draft Resolution on International Criminal Court

TSUNEO NISHIDA (Japan) introduced the draft resolution (document A/66/L.47), entitled “Report of the International Criminal Court”, calling attention to some new elements included in the text.

In paragraph 6 of the preamble, he said, the General Assembly acknowledged the fact that the International Criminal Court had achieved considerable progress in its analysis, investigations and judicial proceedings in situations and cases referred to it by both the States Parties and the Security Council, as well as those which the Prosecutor of the Court had initiated proprio motu in accordance with the Rome Statute.

In operative paragraph 12, he said, the General Assembly, recalling the referrals to the International Criminal Court already made by the Security Council, also invited all States to consider voluntary contributions to bear the expenses related to investigations or prosecutions of the International Criminal Court, including in connection with situations referred by the Council.  “I recognize that starting an operative paragraph with the progressive form is not a usual practice from the editorial viewpoint,” he said.  “It is my understanding, however, that, even knowing it, the Member States wish to take action on the text before us, as it is the only acceptable formulation to be arrived at after the extensive negotiations they have had.”

Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Nishida welcomed the seven new States Parties that had joined in the fight against impunity since the adoption of the previous resolution, namely Grenada, Tunisia, the Philippines, Maldives, Cape Verde, Vanuatu and Guatemala.  A new chapter for the International Criminal Court would open, as 2012 marked its tenth anniversary, with many challenges lying ahead, such as those related to universality, complementarity, cooperation, non-cooperation, victims assistance, reparation, ratification of the crimes of aggression clauses, referral by the Security Council and the budget.

After that statement, the Assembly adopted the text by consensus.

Speaking after action, the representative of Sudan reaffirmed that his Government would continue to cooperate with all international processes aimed at promoting international law.  Sudan also opposed impunity.  However, Sudan was also opposed to the politicization of international legal procedures.  Because it was not a party to the Rome Statute and because it had concerns about the recent conduct of the Chief Prosecutor of the Court — which had not been impartial when it came to Sudan — Sudan considered that it was not bound by the text just adopted.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.