Speak­ers of par­lia­ment’s de­lib­er­a­tions at 4th World con­fab

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Ahmed Yer­ima

The seven­ti­eth Ses­sion of the United Na­tions was held in New York, USA at the UN Head­quar­ters, the Fourth World Con­fer­ence of Speak­ers of Par­lia­ment was also held at the same venue in Septem­ber 2015. The World Con­fer­ence of Speak­ers of Par­lia­ment or­ga­nized by the In­terPar­lia­men­tary Union, which is the global or­ga­ni­za­tion of na­tional par­lia­ments work­ing to safe­guard peace and drive pos­i­tive demo­cratic change through po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue and con­crete ac­tion, the IPU was founded in 1889 by Frédéric Passy <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Passy> (France <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France>) and Wil­liam Ran­dal Cre­mer <https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wil­liam_Ran­dal_Cre­mer> (United King­dom <https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit­ed_King­dom>). It was the first per­ma­nent fo­rum for po­lit­i­cal mul­ti­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions. Ini­tially, the or­ga­ni­za­tion was for in­di­vid­ual par­lia­men­tar­i­ans <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mem­ber_of_Par­lia­ment>, but has since trans­formed into an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion of the par­lia­ments of sov­er­eign states. The na­tional par­lia­ments of 163 coun­tries are mem­bers of the IPU, and 10 re­gional par­lia­men­tary as­sem­blies are as­so­ciate mem­bers. The IPU has per­ma­nent ob­server sta­tus at the United Na­tions <https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Unit­ed_Na­tion­s_Gen­er­al_Assem­bly_ob­servers> and gen­eral con­sul­ta­tive sta­tus with the Eco­nomic and So­cial Coun­cil <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_or­ga­ni­za­tion­s_with­_­con­sul­ta­tive_s­ta­tus_­to_the_Unit­ed_Na­tions_ Eco­nomic_and_So­cial_Coun­cil>.

A key­note ad­dress by Mr. For­est Whi­taker, UN Spe­cial En­voy for Peace and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ush­ered in the open­ing cer­e­mony in the pres­ence of the Pres­i­dent of IPU Mr. Saber Chowd­hury, The UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Mr. Ban KiMoon and the Pres­i­dent of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly Mr. Sam K. Kutesa and Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from mem­ber states.

About 124 coun­tries and their Rep­re­sen­ta­tives pre­sented re­ports at the con­fer­ence. And came up with a dec­la­ra­tion - “Plac­ing democ­racy at the ser­vice of peace and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment: Build­ing the world we want”.

In this 38 point dec­la­ra­tion that had strong themes on; our world to­day, Democ­racy, Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, the Honourable Speaker of the Fed­eral House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Nige­ria, Hon Yakubu Dog­ara made laud­able con­tri­bu­tions that were adopted in the draft dec­la­ra­tion and the fi­nal dec­la­ra­tion of the 2015 con­fer­ence.

Speak­ing at the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the fourth world con­fer­ence, the Speaker urged western na­tions to help re­turn the funds looted from Nige­ria, so that the monies can be chan­neled to­wards Na­tional De­vel­op­ment.

He added that Western na­tions have a moral and le­gal obli­ga­tion to Nige­ria and other African coun­tries to en­sure that monies stolen from Africa are repa­tri­ated with an ap­peal to speak­ers of the par­lia­ments of western na­tions to put pres­sure on their home gov­ern­ments for the repa­tri­a­tion, Dog­ara also sought the en­act­ment of leg­is­la­tion to block move­ment of stolen funds from Africa.

The speaker called for con­certed ef­forts by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity against ter­ror­ism since no coun­try is in­su­lated from the global threat of ter­ror­ism. He said this is the surest way to de­feat ter­ror­ists who are linked with in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions.

At the pre­sen­ta­tion of the con­fer­ence re­ports, four key items were pre­sented namely (a) Im­ple­men­ta­tion of ma­jor rec­om­men­da­tions of pre­vi­ous Speak­ers’ Con­fer­ences - the par­lia­men­tary di­men­sion to in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion; i. Re­la­tions with the United Na­tions. ii. Co­op­er­a­tion with re­gional par­lia­men­tary as­sem­blies. iii. Par­lia­ments and democ­racy. iv. Bridg­ing the democ­racy gap in in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. (b) Par­lia­men­tary in­volve­ment in the shap­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals; i. The “what” of the SDGs: cam­paign­ing for spe­cific goals and for an IPU role. ii. The “how” of the SDGs: mo­bi­liz­ing par­lia­ments for im­ple­men­ta­tion. iii. IPU work on the MDGS (c) Chal­lenges fac­ing par­lia­ments to­day; i. Public skep­ti­cism. ii. De­clin­ing voter turnout. iii. Un­equal power re­la­tions be­tween the ex­ec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive branches of gov­ern­ment. iv. In­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity and par­lia­men­tary re­form (d) Main­stream­ing gen­der equal­ity into the work of par­lia­ments; i. Gen­der equal­ity, democ­racy and the IPU. ii. Women in par­lia­ment- how much progress? Lessons learned. iii. Re­form­ing le­gal frame­works to elim­i­nate dis­crim­i­na­tion and sup­port women’s ac­cess to pol­i­tics. iv. Sup­port­ing women’s over­all em­pow­er­ment- A nec­es­sary in­vest­ment. v. Build­ing gen­der-sen­si­tive pro­cesses and in­sti­tu­tions. vi. De­vel­op­ing part­ner­ships. vii. The role of the IPU.

The dec­la­ra­tion opened with; “We live in ex­tra­or­di­nary times. We need equally ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­forts to build a world where ev­ery man, woman and child is safe from war and con­flict, free from poverty and hunger, where they are able to meet their needs and re­al­ize their hu­man po­ten­tial while pre­serv­ing our planet for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and where their rights, free­doms and dig­nity are fully re­spected. Par­lia­ment is the cen­tral in­sti­tu­tion of democ­racy through which the will of the peo­ple is ex­pressed. We, the Speak­ers of the world par­lia­ments, have con­vened at the United Na­tions in New York to give voice to their con­cerns and demon­strate our re­solve to play our part in meet­ing the global chal­lenges be­fore us. As we adopt this dec­la­ra­tion we are mind­ful of the unique re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and con­sti­tu­tional man­dates of our par­lia­ments to make the laws that im­ple­ment in­ter­na­tional agree­ments and to hold gov­ern­ments and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions to ac­count for their full re­al­iza­tion. Cog­nizant of our di­verse tra­di­tions and unique par­lia­men­tary his­to­ries and prac­tices, it is our am­bi­tion to pro­vide a con­crete demo­cratic di­men­sion to col­lec­tive ef­forts aimed at cre­at­ing a bet­ter world”.

And closed with; “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”.

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