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Inter-Parliamentary Union: Assembly Focuses on Parliamentarians’ Role in Fighting Terrorism

(Apr. 25, 2017) On April 1, 2017, the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) began in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  The 2017 Assembly focused on parliamentarians’ role in fighting terrorism.  (IPU Assembly 2017 Begins in Dhaka, ASIAN AGE ONLINE  (Apr. 1, 2017).) The Assembly lasted for five days, ending on April 5.  According to a recent news article, a total of 1,348 delegates from 131 countries, among them 650 members of parliaments, 53 speakers and deputy speakers of legislatures, and 209 female parliamentarians attended this event.  (5-Day IPU Assembly Begins in Dhaka, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 1, 2017).)

The meeting ended with a declaration (the Dhaka Declaration) of the intention of the participants to end the inequalities around the world and to stop foreign interference in the internal matters of a sovereign state.  (136th IPU Assembly Ends with Dhaka Declaration, DHAKA TRIBUNE (Apr. 6, 2017).)

A Draft Resolution of 18 points was passed by the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security with a vote of 44 to 10 and was adopted by the General Assembly.  (Id.)  The key proposal of the Draft Resolution was on the prevention of foreign interference in any country’s internal affairs.  Bangladesh, China, and India were among the 44 nations that voted in favor of the Draft Resolution; Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom voted against it. Belgium abstained. (IPU Passes Resolution to Stop Foreign Intervention in Internal Affairs, BDNEWS24.COM, (Apr. 6, 2017).)

The Draft Resolution included a provision on condemning all forms of terrorism and included human rights issues. It states that the IPU:

Strongly urges all States to fulfil their obligations under international law, to condemn terrorism in all its forms, as manifested in the invasion and occupation of territories, ethnic cleansing and displacement, the destruction of humanity’s archaeological heritage, the establishment of child armies, the abuse of women and suicide operations; these obligations include refraining from the threat or use of force and observing the territorial integrity of other States, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States; … .  (The Role of Parliament in Preventing Outside Interference in the Internal Affairs of Sovereign States, ¶ 74 (Mar. 23, 2017, with amendment as suggested by Lebanon, bold highlights as in text), IPU website.)

The Draft Resolution also urges all the states to fulfill, among their other obligations under international law, those that include:

refraining from the threat or use of force, observing the territorial integrity of other States, not encouraging unrest and trouble in States’ domestic affairs, not causing any internal conflict or disturbance, and avoiding any attempt to influence a State’s national security, political, economic, cultural or social affairs, while also respecting human rights, State sovereignty and noninterference in the internal affairs of States. (Id. ¶ 75, with amendment as suggested by United Arab Emirates.)

Background on the IPU

The IPU is an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states.  It was established in 1889, at the initiative of two parliamentarians, William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France).  The IPU was the first permanent forum for political, multilateral negotiations, and it contributed to the creation of  the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.  (What Is the IPU, IPU website (last visited Apr. 5, 2017).) The nature, purpose, and composition of the IPU are set forth in the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.  (Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (adopted in 1976, extensively revised in Oct. 1983, as last amended in Mar. 2016), IPU website.)

The IPU, as a member organization of the United Nations since the early 1990s, “has been working closely with the United Nations to make international relations and decision-making more transparent as well as more effective.” (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Overview, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)  In the spring of 2007, to further the growing partnership between the IPU and the U.N., the IPU established a dedicated Committee on United Nations Affairs.  (IPU Cooperation with the United Nations: Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, IPU website (last visited Apr. 7, 2017).)   A policy paper prepared at the request of the Advisory Group of the IPU Committee on United Nations Affairs and endorsed at the 117th Assembly of the IPU in Geneva in 2007 states, “[w]hile constitutional systems vary from one country to another, parliaments everywhere are the central institution of democracy.”  (Geert Versnick, MP (Belgium), On the Nature of the Relationship Between the United Nations and the World of Parliaments, IPU Document No. 34, 117th IPU Assembly (Oct. 10, 2007).)