General Assembly Adopts Text Encouraging Robust Engagement between United Nations, National Parliaments Worldwide to Achieve Sustainable Development
Welcoming actions by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to continue pursuing more systematic, meaningful engagement with the United Nations, the General Assembly today encouraged both organizations to enhance their cooperation in meeting common aims across the three dimensions of sustainable development.
The 193-member organ adopted without a vote a text titled “Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union”, capping off a debate on the relationship between national legislators and the United Nations, during which speakers highlighted that parliaments hold Governments accountable to multilateral commitments and deliver local perspectives to international fora. They considered an eponymous Secretary-General’s report on the matter (document A/76/780).
Among other things, the Assembly welcomed joint activities carried out by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations aimed at mobilizing parliamentary action to combat terrorism and violent extremism, and invited more cooperation between the two organizations in such areas as women’s empowerment and facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration.
By other terms of the text, it called on United Nations country teams to develop a more structured and integrated approach to working with national parliaments, and called on United Nations entities to avail themselves more systematically of the unique expertise of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and its member parliaments.
Introducing the resolution, the representative of Portugal stressed that parliaments can contribute to the work of the United Nations at the operational and political levels. While pointing to the long road ahead towards a more inclusive and transparent system of global governance, he highlighted the increasing recognition for their key role in holding Governments accountable.
Along similar lines, Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), Assembly President, stressed that global agendas cannot succeed without concrete progress at the national level where legislators play a profoundly important role. Conversely, parliaments help channel local concerns to the international community, he pointed out, adding that the insights of parliamentarians from across all political spectra will help the international community to overcome the multifarious challenges it faces.
“Parliamentarians are the key to getting the job done,” Duarte Pacheco, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in its capacity as observer, told the Assembly, drawing attention to their work in facilitating hearings, preparing independent reports, engaging with constituents and pushing Governments to deliver on their commitments. Also highlighting the international reach of the body, he said that, shortly after the conflict in Ukraine began, the Union’s members decided to create a task force, as a result of which, a high-level delegation will be in Moscow and Kyiv to promote dialogue between two countries.
The representative of the Russian Federation highlighted the Union’s contribution to parliamentary diplomacy, stressing that the body is depoliticized, mutually respectful and fosters a constructive exchange of views between parliamentarians. Mexico’s delegate pointed out that the Union enables its members to understand that multilateralism is not an ideology, but a methodology. He also stressed the urgent need to enhance women’s participation in parliaments through quantitative and qualitative improvements.
Canada’s delegate, who also spoke on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, described parliamentarians as the first line of defence against those who prefer unilateralism. “While much of what is decided here in the [Assembly] or other bodies is done by Governments, implementation of many of those critical decisions relies on parliaments,” he pointed out.
The Assembly also adopted a draft decision on the “Convening of the second and third sessions of the open-ended working group to elaborate a set of political commitments as a new global framework that will address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management”, by the terms of which it decided to convene the second five-day session in 2022 in Geneva and the third five-day session in New York.
Also adopted today was a decision concerning “Accreditation and participation of an intergovernmental organization in the 2022 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, as well as another on “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict”, by the terms of which the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the item.
Also speaking today were the representatives of India, El Salvador, Belarus and Myanmar, as well as representatives of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.
The representative of Hungary spoke in explanation of position.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 23 June, to consider the responsibility to protect and the prevention of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Interaction between UN, National Parliaments, Inter-Parliamentary Union
ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, noting that the multilateral system that has kept the world intact since 1945 is under unprecedented pressure, pointed to climate-related disasters, economic uncertainty, growing food insecurity and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Underscoring that these urgent issues are beyond the capacity of any single State or global institution to resolve unilaterally, he stressed the importance of a comprehensive effort that leverages the energy and expertise of all stakeholders in the true spirit of multilateralism. Parliaments play a key role in this, he pointed out, adding that global agendas cannot succeed without concrete progress at the national level where legislators play a profoundly important role. Parliaments serve as the platform in which United Nations resolutions can be turned into national legislation, he said.
Also noting that parliaments help channel local concerns to the international community, he added that this synergy is especially important during times of major global crisis. The inputs and insights of parliamentarians from across the entire political spectrum will help the international community to overcome these challenges. Cooperation between the United Nations system, parliamentary organizations and national parliaments has expanded over the past two years despite the challenges of the pandemic, he pointed out, noting the role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in this. Calling for further strengthening such collaboration, he added that, by working together, Governments, civil society, the private sector and legislators can achieve the common vision of a brighter future.
EDUARDO MANUEL DA FONSECA FERNANDES RAMOS (Portugal), introducing the draft resolution titled “Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union” (document A/76/L.63), reaffirmed his country’s support for the Union. Noting that parliaments can contribute to the work of the United Nations at the operational and political levels, he said that they have increasingly gained recognition for their key role in holding Governments to account for the commitments they make at the Organization through legislation and budgetary allocations. Pointing to the long road ahead towards a more inclusive and transparent system of global governance, he said the resolution under consideration calls for cooperation between the Organization and the Union across a wide range of areas and activities. Also drawing attention to operative paragraph 28, he noted that it requests the Secretary-General to submit a report on the matter at the General Assembly’s seventy-ninth session, as a result of which the Assembly will consider this item every three years going forward.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said parliaments and legislatures are indispensable stakeholders and partners for the United Nations. “While much of what is decided here in the [Assembly] or other bodies is done by Governments, implementation of many of those critical decisions relies on parliaments,” he said, pointing out that in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Prime Ministers and Ministers are also parliamentarians themselves. Parliamentarians uphold the rule of law, are able to ratify international treaties, set national budgets and allocate the funding required to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Parliamentarians are also accountable to their constituents — the public — he said, noting that they often form the first line of defence against those who would prefer isolation or unilateralism in facing the world’s challenges. Praising the text currently before the Assembly — which Canada, Australia and New Zealand are co-sponsoring — he thanked the Secretary-General for his report on cooperation between the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which includes many useful observations and recommendations for strengthened cooperation.
KAJAL BHAT (India) noted that India is the largest democracy in the world and a country of “unprecedented socioeconomic inclusion in all spheres”, which has taken place at an unimaginable scale. Indeed, her country is characterized by secularism, pluralism, tolerance and respect for the rule of law, and its success story has also seen the rapid uplifting of women at a massive scale, with countless women elected to parliaments and other leadership roles. Expressing support for the role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union - especially its commitment to the promotion of pluralistic, representative government — she described it as an important ally of the United Nations. Durable solutions to the world’s challenges require respect for tolerance and diversity, she added, outlining the many elements of sustainable development, human rights and peacebuilding that the Inter-Parliamentary Union actively supports. Against that backdrop, she said, India will continue to play a constructive role in bolstering the partnership between the United Nations and that organization.
CARLOS EFRAÍN SEGURA ARAGÓN (El Salvador), stressing that cooperation between the United Nations and parliaments promotes the achievement of common goals, voiced support for the Secretary-General’s call in his Our Common Agenda report promoting partnerships through systematic interaction with parliaments. Highlighting the role of such partnerships in improving multilateralism, he acknowledged the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in integrating parliamentary perspectives in the work of the United Nations. Further, parliaments play an important role in turning multilateral agreements into ground realities, he added, highlighting the International Migration Review Forum which took place in May as an example. Noting the challenges that remain against eliminating violence against women, he added that it is imperative to bolster the participation of women in political and public lives. Encouraging the Union to work for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in parliaments, he stressed the importance of integrating a gender perspective in parliamentary work.
FERNANDO DE LA MORA SALCEDO (Mexico) noting that the Inter-Parliamentary Union promotes international dialogue, as well as improvements in legislative work, reaffirmed the importance of bringing the work of legislative bodies and the United Nations closer together. Parliamentarians of the world have recently faced important challenges, he pointed out, adding that the Union enables its members to understand that multilateralism is not an ideology, but a methodology. All national parliaments are important partners of the General Assembly because they are responsible for aligning international treaties with domestic legal frameworks. Their legislations can protect human rights and address climate change, he said, also welcoming the participation of parliamentarians in the International Migration Review Forum. His country has achieved gender parity in the legislative branch, he said, calling on all States to make quantitative and qualitative improvements to ensure women’s and young people’s participation in parliaments.
EKATERINA MOZGOVAYA (Belarus) said depoliticized and mutually respectful dialogue, including through parliamentary processes, is the only way to resolve global challenges. Calling for increased and broadened cooperation among the United Nations, Inter-Parliamentary Union and the world’s parliaments, she said it is unacceptable to impose any sanctions against parliamentarians. She called on countries hosting multilateral events to ensure that parliamentarians from around the world are able to attend such events without discrimination. Also warning against politicizing the Union’s work, she said such attempts could lead to the destruction of the world’s longest-standing association of parliaments.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said national parliaments represent the voices of the people on the ground. It is now evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the goal of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 even more challenging. In the post-pandemic context, strengthened engagement between the United Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and national parliaments is needed to turn global agenda into concrete results on the ground at national levels. In Myanmar, the people freely and democratically elected their representatives in 2020 general elections; however, the military perpetrated an illegal coup in 2021. Emphasizing that the coup “must fail”, he said that, despite those events, democratically elected members of Parliament continue to represent the people’s will and have been working to put the country on the path to a democratic future. Despite physical threats, persecution and illegal arrests by the military, those members also continue to engage with the international community. “Please listen to the voice of the people of Myanmar — their voices have been loud and clear,” he said, calling on the United Nations to support the people in their continued fight for democracy.
MAXIM V. BIRYUKOV (Russian Federation) reaffirming the importance of international parliamentary cooperation, said such collaboration is a key part of his country’s foreign policy. Cooperation between parliaments and the United Nations ensures that legislation is harmonized, he said, welcoming the Inter‑Parliamentary Union’s role as a mediator. Highlighting the Union’s contribution to developing parliamentary diplomacy, he stressed that it is depoliticized, mutually respectful and fosters a constructive exchange of views between parliamentarians. That enables the international community to find workable solutions to a broad range of relevant international problems, he said, adding that the current resolution has a crucial role to play in raising the profile of parliamentary institutions. Also underscoring that it is unacceptable to impose sanctions on parliamentarians, he called on States hosting international events to provide elected parliamentarians of all nations the opportunity to take part in such events without any discrimination.
DUARTE PACHECO, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in its capacity as observer, said that today’s resolution is a milestone in the cooperation between the United Nations and parliaments. More than ever before, “parliamentarians are the key to getting the job done”, he said, adding that Governments will deliver on their commitments when parliaments push them to do so. Stressing the importance of accountability, he said that parliaments can hold Governments accountable for what they do and what they do not do, on a variety of matters from the Sustainable Development Goals to tackling climate change. Parliamentarians can facilitate hearings, prepare independent reports and engage with constituents, he said, while noting the uphill battle posed by lack of resources.
The world needs inter-parliamentary dialogue, he said, adding that the conflict in Ukraine is a sign of the instability in the multilateral system. “We cannot rely on Governments alone,” he said, noting that, shortly after the conflict in Ukraine began, the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s members held a major debate and decided to create a task force to create solutions. As a result, a high-level delegation will be in Moscow and Kyiv to promote dialogue between two countries, he said. Multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union must work together to achieve peace, democracy and development, he stressed, welcoming the consistent effort to invite parliamentarians to multi-stakeholder debates, as well as the cooperation on the ground between United Nations country teams and parliamentarians.
MARCUS BRAND, representative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, said that, as an intergovernmental organization that brings together 34 member States dedicated to strengthening democracy, the Institute strongly supports parliamentary development and cooperation as key components of democracy assistance. Outlining the organization’s work, he said the collaborative approach supported by the Institute provides a good model for addressing key policy areas relevant to the action of the United Nations, such as gender equality and climate change. Citing periodic setbacks of democratic transitions — such as in Myanmar — he said parliaments and their members are often among the first targets of anti-democratic reversals. The Inter-Parliamentary Union and many parliaments around the world have played a critical role in supporting Myanmar’s legitimate elected representatives, he said, also voicing the Institute’s support for that effort. It will also continue to support the advancement of United Nations agendas, focusing on parliamentary development, political participation and representation, electoral processes, gender equality and inclusion, as well as constitution-building, he said.
QAZI SHAUKAT FAREED, Permanent Observer for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, said his group represents 27 member countries across the Mediterranean region. Welcoming today’s draft resolution and its ambitious agenda, he said “it is now up to us” — the world’s parliaments and parliamentarians, as well as the United Nations and its Member States — to implement it. Among the many important roles played by parliamentary bodies, he said they help ensure the synchronicity of actions and promote better cooperation mechanisms around the world. While the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as the “mother ship”, should continue its leadership role, practical and meaningful action must also take place at the regional level, he said.
The Assembly then adopted “L.63” without a vote.
Speaking in explanation of position after adoption, the representative of Hungary dissociated her delegation from paragraph 16 of that text, noting that her country has not accepted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which is referenced in that paragraph.
In other business, the Assembly adopted without a vote decisions on the “Convening of the second and third sessions of the open-ended working group to elaborate a set of political commitments as a new global framework that will address existing gaps in through-life ammunition management” (document A/76/L.65); “Accreditation and participation of an intergovernmental organization in the 2022 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (document A/76/L.67); and “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict” (document A/76/L.64).