Speakers of parliament’s deliberations at 4th World confab
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”.