National parliamentarians were essential in responding to people’s demands for a more transparent and accountable global governance system, the General Assembly heard today as it adopted a resolution inviting Member States to boost their engagement with the Inter‑Parliamentary Union (IPU).
“Politics everywhere has grown more divisive and polarized,” IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron said in her briefing to the Assembly, emphasizing that parliaments were a “natural link” between the people they represented and the wider global agenda.
With globalization growing and people everywhere feeling increasingly vulnerable and left out of key decision‑making processes, the situation called for redoubling of efforts. Climate change was driving people from their homes in search of safety, and food and clean water. Equality between women and men, far from realized, was facing new and pervasive threats, particularly for women in politics. Income and wealth inequality had reached unprecedented levels and was eroding the very foundation of the social contract that kept countries together.
“Today, old and new conflicts are raging on around the world, threatening peace and security,” she said, adding that Secretary‑General António Guterres, a former parliamentarian himself, had recognized the importance of engaging with parliaments in international decision‑making.
Today’s resolution opened the door to new areas of cooperation, including sustaining peace, interfaith and inter‑ethnic dialogue, and on countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism, she continued. As legislators, parliamentarians played a vital role in their own countries. “The development agenda here at the United Nations must become a reality in each of our communities,” she said, emphasizing that IPU and its 178 member parliaments were working to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Since 2016, IPU and its 46,000 members had focused on changing the narrative toward migrants from hate and discrimination to inclusion and acceptance. Efforts included combating discrimination, harassment and violence against women while highlighting the need to empower them. Parliaments must be inclusive and address the concerns of all members of society, she stressed, adding that young people must also be included in decision‑making.
By adopting the resolution “Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter‑Parliamentary Union” (document A/72/L.54), the Assembly decided to observe 30 June of each year the International Day of Parliamentarism. The Assembly called on United Nations country teams to develop a more structured manner of working with parliaments by inviting them in consultations on national development strategies and on development aid effectiveness.
Calling for regular exchanges and meetings between senior officials of the United Nations and of IPU, the Assembly also encouraged the continued active involvement of the latter organization in promoting the enhanced contribution of parliaments at the national, regional and global levels to achieve. By other terms of the text, it called on United Nations entities to avail themselves more systematically of the unique expertise of IPU and its member parliaments in strengthening parliamentary institutions, particularly in countries emerging from conflict and/or in transition to democracy.
“Good governance is not a luxury,” said the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, underscoring that national parliaments could help translate the 2030 Agenda into national law. The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago had committed to helping implement the 2030 Agenda, aligning the global agenda with its own national “Vision 2030”. As a small island developing State, Trinidad and Tobago also welcomed the references in the Secretary‑General’s report to the unique challenges of that group of nations.
In introducing the draft text, Mexico’s delegate said work at the United Nations would have no consequences without parliaments providing guidance and funding at the national levels. Agreeing, Algeria’s representative said today’s multifaceted text had an important effect on principles such as human rights, women’s empowerment, youth participation, security and disarmament, among others. Such broad cooperation aimed to resolve conflicts through parliamentary diplomacy.
Elaborating on that point, Argentina’s delegate said the relationship between the Organization, national parliaments and IPU was critical, because they were partners in achieving the 2030 Goals and overcoming other challenges. Fighting poverty at the global level needed local participation from all countries and an adjustment to national policies with specific actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Many people still lived in abject poverty. Progress in that regard had been limited in regions such as Latin America, where levels of poverty stood at approximately 29 per cent.
Several delegates provided examples of their efforts, with Namibia’s representative noting that his country had achieved 47 per cent gender parity in its parliament. Indeed, IPU achievements could not be underestimated in that regard because, 30 years ago, the world percentage of women parliamentarians stood at only 10 per cent. That average had now grown to almost 24 per cent, but much remained to be done and the Union’s work in that area must be supported.
Raising another issue, the Russian Federation’s delegate said the text would contribute to enhancing the role of parliaments and contribute to mutual understanding and dialogue. As a non‑politicized entity, IPU had enabled a constructive exchange of views. An important initiative contained in the draft text involved the establishing of the International Day of Parliamentarism on 30 June. He also welcomed the establishing of a global conference on inter‑ethnic and interreligious dialogue, adding that sanctions on parliamentarians were unacceptable. For example, in October 2017, the Russian Federation had been host to the IPU Assembly and had provided unimpeded access to all who had sought to participate. He looked forward to similar access granted by future hosts.
The representative of Ukraine, explaining his delegation’s position, said IPU had worked for peace and cooperation. As an IPU member, Ukraine’s own parliament had played an important role in the organization and had always demonstrated respect for international law. Noting that the IPU Assembly, held in the Russian Federation in October 2017, had taken place against the backdrop of that country’s acts of aggression in Ukraine, he said holding that session in the Russian Federation had seriously undermined IPU principles of respect of territorial integrity and put into question IPU commitment to United Nations principles. For such reasons, he had to disassociate himself from consensus on the text.
Also before the Assembly today was a note by the Secretary‑General titled “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/72/91).
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 May for a high‑level debate to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.