Report of the Secretary General

TEL AVIV AND RAMALLAH - For a Middle East in peace, 23-24 May 2005


It is a pleasure to make my report to the Council as we gather among longtime comrades and friends in the Middle East. Our International has been closely involved and our presence deeply felt in this region in many ways. Our solidarity with the people here and their dreams for a more peaceful, prosperous future has been steadfast during even the most difficult moments. And recognising the Middle East’s important place in the world, we firmly believe in the crucial role of the international community in achieving a lasting peace in the region.

It is therefore natural and fitting that we are holding our Council in Israel and Palestine, meeting in Tel Aviv and in Ramallah to strengthen the bridges we provide to both peoples, and to continue our work, amidst new and crucial developments, in carrying out the social democratic vision for the region: a Middle East in peace, with political and economic democracy for all.

I especially want to thank our Israeli and Palestinian member parties and their leaders - Shimon Peres of the Israel Labour Party and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel; Yossi Beilin of the Yachad Party of Israel; the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and members of the leadership of Fatah - for their cooperation and contribution to the holding of this Council. I also want to thank everyone we have been in contact with in these last few months, working together for the success of this meeting, another important milestone in the work of our International in the Middle East and, we hope, for people in this part of the world as well.

In the following lines, I will try to give you a summary overview of some of the activities on which we have focused since the meeting of our Council in Johannesburg in November last year.


The Middle East

As part of our ongoing efforts in the Middle East we organised an observer delegation to the election for the new President of the Palestinian Authority held on 9 January, a very positive event that enhances the prospects for advancing on important issues throughout the region. The delegation, including representatives from many of our member parties, held meetings in Ramallah prior to the vote with officials of the Palestinian Authority and members of the leadership of Fatah; met with Presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas; and held discussions with officials of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) on the organisation of the vote.

On election day we visited polling stations and followed the voting process in numerous electoral districts. After the poll, further discussions were held with Fatah and Palestinian officials, including then Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath. Afterwards, the delegation reviewed the events of the day and unanimously agreed a statement expressing its appreciation and recognition of the democratic will and civic responsibility of the Palestinian people who had made the election a landmark in their search for a future of peace with freedom and new opportunities for all. The delegation also extended congratulations to President-elect Abbas and to his party, Fatah; expressed satisfaction that the election gave him a clear mandate to carry forward the Palestinian people’s agenda for peace, democracy and a State of their own; reaffirmed that they could continue to count on our International as a platform and instrument to carry on building dialogue and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis; and underlined that it was crucial that the international community, and in particular the government of Israel, take advantage of the historic opportunity provided by the election to implement without delay the agreed roadmap.

After the elections, on 10 January, we also held discussions with Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin on the formation of a new government in Israel that day and on the new opportunities arising in the region, as this government set out to implementthe withdrawal from Gaza. This development raised hope within our political family and created expectations that such a withdrawal should become part of the roadmap and would in turn strengthen a horizon for peace, opening the way for further developments.

Most recently, our Middle East Committee met in London on 9 May, under the chairmanship of Thorbjørn Jagland, of the Norwegian Labour Party, to prepare the draft resolution on the main theme for our Council meeting here.

The Mediterranean

In response to recent critical events in Lebanon, and to examine the overall situation in this country that plays an important role as part of both the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern communities, the International held a special one-day meeting of our Mediterranean Committee in Beiteddine on 4 April. The meeting was hosted by the SI member Progressive Socialist Party, PSP, whose leader Walid Jumblatt headed the party’s delegation. Discussions included the participation of representatives from the country’s opposition political forces, including: Democratic Renewal, Movement of the Democratic Left, Mustaqbal, Kataeb, Kornet Chehwan, Lebanese Forces, Free Patriotic Movement, National Block, Democratic Gathering and a representative of the Independents. The gathering began with contributions by Walid Jumblatt, Trinidad Jiménez of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE, Chair of Committee, who chaired the meeting, and myself.

The Lebanese participants and representatives of SI member parties from throughout the Mediterranean region and Europe then engaged in open and in-depth discussions of the principal issues and concerns that affect Lebanon, and reached a broad consensus that was reflected in the agreed Declaration of Beirut. In that document the Committee expressed its strong condemnation of the 14 February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, noting that his leadership in the process of national reconstruction was a source of inspiration to all Lebanese citizens and to the international community. The Committee further condemned all acts of violence in the country and affirmed its support for the Lebanese people in their call for truth and justice in regard to the killing of the former Prime Minister and other acts of political violence.

The Committee expressed its full solidarity with the people of Lebanon, the PSP and all democratic forces in the country as they reaffirm the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, its democracy and constitutional integrity, the foundations for holding free, fair and transparent national elections beginning on 29 May through to 19 June. The Committee also underlined that the Socialist International remained committed to closely monitoring the situation in the country, particularly with regard to the withdrawal of Syrian forces in accord with the Taif Agreement and international law and the upcoming elections, to which the International will send an observer delegation, as it has done in the Middle East and other regions of the world.

We have confidence today in the dialogue between Lebanese political forces to strengthen the role of political parties and achieving a normalisation of political life in Lebanon without violence, and the new opportunity that now exists for Lebanon and the entire region to build new political relations and policies to achieve peace, democracy and prosperity for all should be emphasised.


In keeping with our concerted effort to address the challenges facing Africa, the SI Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment met at the United Nations Office at Nairobi on 8-9 April, to enhance the regional approach of the Committee. The gathering was chaired by Christoph Zöpel, Chair of the Committee, of the Social Democratic Party, SPD, of Germany, and counted on the participation, amongst others, of a number of African member parties of the International.

The principal theme of the meeting was the impact of globalisation in Africa and the continent’s influence on governance in a global society. Delegates from Africa and other continents underlined that the effects of globalisation had thus far largely marginalised Africa and that the international community had an obligation to support efforts to increase the share of African exports in the global trading system. The Committee reiterated that democratic governance was essential for Africa to advance, including respect for human rights, free and fair elections, a multi-party political system that encourages the participation of women, decentralised decision-making in government and vibrant and effective trade unions.

The Committee also examined a second, semi-annual review on democratic governance for sustainable development, which will be submitted to the Council, and underlined the critical role of the African Union in the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts on the continent, emphasising that African political parties should be able to play important roles within this organisation. Regarding the Millennium Development Goals - about which a draft declaration will also be presented to this Council - the Committee made the point that to alleviate poverty, Africa must be able to count on international financial assistance, particularly for infrastructure; health systems that give priority to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and pre- and post-natal care for women and children; information technologies; free education at all levels; professional training; and housing programmes for poor urban and rural areas. The positive role that can be played by local authorities in implementing the Millennium Development Goals was emphasised as well.

The International also has continued to closely monitor situations of concern in a number of African countries, and to support our member parties as they struggle for democracy and respect for human rights. On 4 February, the International welcomed the release of Ahmed Ould Daddah, leader of the SI member Assembly of Democratic Forces, RFD, in Mauritania, and other leading opposition politicians after they had been arbitrarily detained for more than a month, and deplored the Mauritanian regime’s persistent use of alleged coup plots as pretexts for repressing and trying to discredit its opponents. We also reiterated the solidarity of the International with the RFD and all opposition forces in Mauritania who continue to struggle for democratic rights and a peaceful transition to democracy, and called on the authorities to open the way for dialogue toward consensual solutions to the country’s political and social problems.

On 14 February the International deemed unacceptable the violation of the constitution in the succession process in Togo following the death of Eyadéma Gnassingbé, and expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation. We expressed support for the efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and reaffirmed our solidarity with the SI member Democratic Convention of African Peoples, CDPA, and other opposition parties seeking to exercise their democratic rights. Since then, we have continued to monitor the situation as the crisis unfortunately has deepened and the repression become worse.

We also followed with great attention the successful mediation efforts of President Mbeki in Côte d'Ivoire. An issue which we discussed with him in depth on the occasion of our last Council meeting in Johannesburg.

Latin America and the Caribbean

As part of our work in Latin America and the Caribbean, the International has continued to focus on Haiti where, despite an extraordinarily difficult situation, there remains the real possibility for making progress toward a better future for its people. On 21-22 January the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Port-au-Prince to reiterate our support for building and strengthening democratic institutions in the country and advancing on the electoral timetable to establish an elected government in 2006, and to express the solidarity of the International with the efforts of its member parties in Haiti to merge into a single progressive force.

During the opening session, delegates from throughout the region were addressed by Gérard Latortue, the Prime Minister of Haiti; Juan Gabriel Valdés, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Haiti and Chief of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); Rolando Araya, Chair of the Committee, from the National Liberation Party, PLN, Costa Rica; Serge Gilles of SI member PANPRA; Victor Benoît of SI member KONAKOM; and myself.

Following an examination of the situation in Haiti, the Committee agreed a Declaration of Port-au-Prince in support of the process of political transition in the country, noting that the Haitian people, through democratic means, political parties and civil society organisations, were determined to take advantage of the opportunity to modernise their country. The Committee urged international sponsors and donors to honour more swiftly their financial commitments and encouraged KONAKOM and PANPRA to continue their work to create, as soon as possible, along with other political partners, notably Ayti Kapab, a single social democratic party in order to play a central role in the process of transforming Haitian society within a democratic rule of law.

During the meeting, delegates also addressed the issue of Latin America and the Caribbean in the process of globalisation and agreed a statement that underlined as a fundamental task for social democratic forces the integration of peoples and nations in the region, and welcomed the efforts to create a South American Community of Nations.

On behalf of our International I returned to Haiti on 22-23 April for the successful merging Congress of our member parties there - KONAKOM and PANPRA with Ayti Kapab - where the Fusion Sociale-Démocrate was formed to be led by Victor Benoît and its presidential candidate, Serge Gilles, was announced for elections due to be held before the end of the year.

The Committee convened again on 6-7 May in Lima at a time of new opportunities for furthering integration in the region, a priority for the International on every continent in our overall response to the challenges of globalisation. The meeting was hosted by the Peruvian Aprista Party, PAP, whose leader Alan García, former president of Peru, addressed the opening session that was attended by representatives of social organisations, diplomats and the media. The gathering, chaired by Rolando Araya, included the participation of the Vice-Chairs of the Committee, María del Carmen Viñas, Socialist Party, PS, Argentina, and José Murat, Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, Mexico. Delegates from throughout the region and beyond worked on developing strategies for deepening both political and economic integration in Latin America and the Caribbean and ways to further the policies and proposals of the progressive forces there which continue to grow in number and influence.

Following discussions on these issues, and presentations of reports on specific national situations, delegates agreed a Declaration of Lima that emphasised the importance of strengthening political party systems and reaffirmed that regional integration treaties must have social, cultural and political, as well as commercial, components to be viable and must guarantee protection for the least favoured sectors of society. The Committee also agreed a resolution that underlined the need to enhance the participation of youth in social democratic parties as part of a process of political renovation, and to channel the creativity and vitality of youth organisations into our movement by making the International a reference point for younger generations struggling to create a more just Latin America and the Caribbean.

With regard to Mexico, the Committee called on our members, the Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, to work to consolidate the democratic process in that country and ensure that the general elections set for July 2006 are free, clean and transparent for all parties and their candidates. The Committee also expressed its solidarity with the Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD, in the Dominican Republic and the process of renovation it is undergoing in preparation for the party’s national convention this July.

The Committee agreed, as well, to congratulate José Miguel Insulza upon his election as Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, OAS, and to discuss at its next gathering in Montevideo, Uruguay, to be hosted by the Socialist Party and New Space, ways in which the International can contribute to strengthening the OAS in its approach to the critical issues facing the Western hemisphere. It was also agreed to hold a meeting in Panama in July of the Commission established by the Committee to address regional economic themes, which will be followed by a gathering in Latin America later in the year of the SI Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment. Another agreement resulting from the meeting was the mandate I and the Chair of SICLAC received to undertake in the near future a dialogue with the government, our member parties and other political forces in Venezuela.

Regional integration was also a priority when, in the second week of February, I had the opportunity to visit the leaders of the six SI member parties that are in government in the English-speaking Caribbean: Prime Minister P.J. Patterson of Jamaica and the People’s National Party; Prime Minister Owen Arthur of Barbados and the Barbados Labour Party; Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Unity Labour Party; Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia and the St. Lucia Labour Party; Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts-Nevis and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party; and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica and the Dominica Labour Party. I discussed with all of them their parties' relationship with the International and how to further a coordinated approach of our political family to their region, and enhance their cooperation within the context of the Caribbean Community, Caricom.

With regard to the region as a whole, it should be noted that social democratic parties and movements sharing our ideals and values continue to advance, most recently demonstrated by the taking of office of Tabaré Vásquez as President of Uruguay at the beginning of March, an occasion at which I had the opportunity to be present, along with other members from our International.

Asia and the Pacific

Furthering the work and the presence of the International in this vast and critical region of the world, the SI Asia-Pacific Committee held the first meeting of the International in Mongolia on 13-14 May. The gathering, hosted by the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, MPRP, and its leader and presidential candidate, Nambar Enkhbayar, took place in Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital city, and included the participation of delegates from countries in the region as well as from Europe. The Committee addressed the priorities of the International in the region - including democracy, peace and security - as well as the response to the tsunami disaster and situations in individual countries.

Following detailed discussions, participants agreed a Declaration of Ulaanbaatar that reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening democracy in Asia and the Pacific based on social democratic principles, and emphasised that the effort went hand in hand with the task of advancing the common agenda for peace and security. Particular concerns were expressed about developments and trends in Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Fiji, Bangladesh and other countries, as well as the continuing repression in Burma and the mounting tension with regard to North Korea.

The Committee reaffirmed the primary goal of deepening social democracy in the region, particularly through the strengthening of our political parties and organisations and heightened cooperation between them. It underlined as well the need for greater cooperation among nations to strengthen the international community’s response to the tsunami disaster, and that programmes for economic development and reconstruction must be responsive to the poor and marginalised, who suffer the most devastating effects of natural disasters. The Committee also urged redoubled efforts by the international community to promote peace in Sri Lanka and in Aceh in Indonesia, where continued threats and violence were hindering the distribution of disaster assistance.

Previous to the meeting in Ulaanbaatar, on 10 February, the International responded to the troubling turn of events in Nepal, condemning the suspension of the constitution and the detention of political leaders, human rights activists and journalists. We reaffirmed our solidarity with the country’s democratic forces, including the SI member Nepali Congress Party and other political organisations that cooperate with the International, and called on the authorities to quickly restore democratic rule. The International recognised the great pain inflicted upon the people of Nepal by the continuing violent conflict in the country, and expressed our belief that peace and security can be achieved only through the return to democracy, the strengthening of democratic institutions and sincere efforts toward negotiations by all sides.

An important activity of a global nature which took place in the region and at which I had the opportunity to represent the International was the Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, ICFTU, held in Miyazaki, Japan, in December, where I had discussions and contacts with numerous trade unionists from different parts of the world. While in Japan, I also had meetings with the leader and members of our member party there, the Social Democratic Party, with whom we plan a special activity of the International later this year, a meeting of our Committee on Peace, Democracy and Human Rights to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Our efforts to deepen democracy and strengthen democratic institutions throughout Europe continue. This was evident as the International worked to support the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. In response to the gross irregularities during the run-off presidential election on 21 November 2004, the International issued a statement clearly expressing its deepest concern, deploring the media bias prior to the poll, the coercion of voters, the intimidation of electoral monitors on the day of the vote and the extensive fraud denounced by both domestic and international observers.

The International also reaffirmed its full support for the democratic forces in Ukraine, including SI members, the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine, SDPU, and expressed its solidarity with the Ukrainian people in their mass peaceful protest to demand a free, fair and transparent electoral process. It also called upon the international community, particularly the European Union and Russia, to take a strong stand on behalf of democratic rights in the country.

The determined effort by Ukrainian democrats resulted in a re-run of the second round of the presidential elections on 26 December. I was able to be in Kiev during that time and carried out a programme of activities with the Ukrainian SI member parties during the final days of the campaign and, on the day of the vote this included meetings with the leadership of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, headed by Olexander Moroz, and the SDPU, led by Yuri Buzdugan.

I also met with the President of the Ukraine Central Elections Commission, Yaroslav Davydovych; the President of the Ukrainian parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn; and with President-elect Viktor Yushchenko, to whom I conveyed the support of our International in advancing the democratic agenda of the people of Ukraine. On the evening of 27 December, following the victory of Yushchenko, I addressed on behalf of the International a public gathering of tens of thousands of his supporters in the city’s Independence Square.

I must also mention here our deep sadness at the passing away on 24 February of Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski, a leading figure in the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD, who for many years was an integral part of the work, the identity and the commitment of the International, particularly on the issues of resolving conflicts, securing peace and advancing democracy. Actively engaged in numerous missions and initiatives of the International, he served as Chair of the SI Middle East Committee for many years and remained full of enthusiasm for all that our organisation could achieve in the world.

Further links with our members

In the many activities undertaken during this last six months, I have to record the occasions on which I had the opportunity to participate in special moments in the life and activities of our member parties or fraternal organisations. Such as, in December, in the IUSY World Council held in Santiago, Chile; in February, the DS Congress in Rome, Italy; the SDPR Conference in Rostov, Russia, and the Convention of the Democratic Party of Serbia; in March, the PASOK Congress in Athens, Greece, and the events marking the 25th anniversary of the PT in Recife, Brazil. During this period I visited Poland in April where I had the privilege of meeting with President Aleksander Kwasnieksi, the Speaker of the parliament, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, and the leadership of our member parties there.


Reform of Global Institutions

A principal focus of the International on matters of global governance continues to be the reform of key global institutions, part of our longstanding agenda for building a global framework and a world economy that work towards promoting peace and stability, fairness and inclusion for all.

In addition to its meeting held at the United Nations Office at Nairobi on 8-9 April, the SI Committee on the Economy, Social Cohesion and the Environment met in Geneva on 14 January to further the work of the International on reform of the United Nations and global financial institutions and to focus on trade and social rights as well. The meeting, chaired by Christoph Zöpel, counted on the participation of delegates from around the world.

Prior to the meeting, our SI Working Group on Reform of the United Nations, created by our XXII Congress in São Paulo, met in Geneva on 26 November to advance on a position paper regarding that issue and a preliminary report was then given to the Committee in January by Maria João Rodrigues. Also on the agenda were a paper on the reform of global financial institutions from Kemal Dervis, to include a proposal for the creation of a new UN Economic, Social and Environmental Security Council; and the issue of linking globalisation, development, trade and core labour standards, with a paper from Anna Diamantopoulou on trade and social rights, which has been developed into a formal position paper. The Committee is further reviewing the position papers at its meeting here on 22 May, after which they are being presented to the Council for adoption. The 22 May meeting is providing the Committee an opportunity as well to hold exchanges on the upcoming second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society to be held in Tunis on 16-18 November 2005.

I would also like to mention that on behalf of the International I was present for the Third Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies held in Santiago on 28-30 April. More than one hundred members of this coalition of democratic countries, founded in 1999, were represented. After three days of deliberations a document was agreed, "Cooperating for Democracy," that reaffirmed the commitment to promote and strengthen democracy at the national, regional and global levels, especially through international organisations and institutions.

Socialist International at the World Social Forum

As part of our efforts to deepen contacts with social movements and to enhance our contributions to the World Social Forum, WSF, the International held a series of events in the context of the 5th WSF which took place in Porto Alegre from 26 to 31 January.

The SI Committee on Local Authorities gathered on 26 January at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, and was chaired by Elio Di Rupo, Leader of the Socialist Party of Belgium, Mayor of Mons and Chair of the Committee. Discussions centred on the question of local alternatives to globalisation and the role of local and municipal governments. Participants included SI President António Guterres; José Genoino, President of the Workers’ Party, PT, of Brazil; Miguel Lifschitz, Vice-Chair of the Committee and Mayor of Rosario, Socialist Party, PS, Argentina; Carlos Lupi, President of the Democratic Labour Party, PDT, of Brazil, as well as numerous mayors, leaders and representatives of SI member parties. In this regard, I can also report that previously, on 29 November 2004, I was invited to participate in and address the Conference of elected Mayors held by the PT in Brasilia and reaffirm the importance of social democratic responses to global challenges at the local level.

On 27 January a group from the International, including President Guterres, myself, and representatives from around the world, held discussions regarding the WSF and other issues with the leadership of the PT, including José Genoino; Marco Aurelio García, Foreign Policy Advisor to President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva; Paulo Ferreira, National Secretary for International Affairs and members of the Executive, at a common working meeting.

To lend support to the efforts of President Lula against hunger and poverty, the International organised a special meeting on the morning of 28 January under the heading: "International Action against Hunger and Poverty: The Search for New Financing Mechanisms for Development." Participants included SI delegates as well as Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the coordinator of the Brazilian inter-governmental working group on the initiative, and Georgio Romano, Secretary General of the Presidency of Brazil.

During the afternoon of 28 January, the International and the PT co-hosted a debate on reform of the United Nations at the Faculty of Law of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, where the first version of the position paper prepared by the special SI Working Group on UN Reform was presented for discussion. The debate was led by a panel which included President Guterres; Marco Aurelio García; Marina Sereni, Member of the Italian Parliament, Democrats of the Left, DS, Italy; and Professor Flávio Saraiva of the University of Brasilia.

With regard to the Forum itself, SI delegates contributed to many of the debates, panels and seminars held by civil society organisations, trade unions and other non-governmental groups, and SI leaders and representatives attended the presentation to the Forum by President Lula of the "Global Call for Action against Poverty." In addition, parliamentarians from SI member parties participated in the 5th World Parliamentary Forum during 29 and 30 January to further deepen the dialogue of the International with social organisations on common themes.

A Global Network of Labour, Socialist and Social Democratic Parliamentarians

Continuing with our efforts to enhance the parliamentary dimension of the work of the International, we organised a meeting of parliamentarians from SI member parties on 2 April on the occasion of the 112th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, held in Manila. This followed previous meetings which we had called of parliamentarians from SI member parties in connection with the 110th and 111th IPU Assemblies held in 2004 in Mexico City and Geneva. Participants at the SI meeting in Manila, which I chaired, reviewed and agreed a draft resolution on the establishment of a common network of parliamentarians from our member parties that had been prepared following previous discussions and on the recommendation of a special Working Group created to address the issue.

This resolution is being presented to our Council. It emphasises that social democratic, labour and socialist parties have been a pillar for the development of democracy on every continent and reaffirms the importance of deepening the involvement of parliamentarians of SI member parties in the work of the International. It therefore proposes that the International establish such a network to coordinate the efforts of social democratic parliamentarians within international and regional organisations; create a bank of initiatives, proposals and programmes that our parliamentarians can draw on; and recommends further that SI member parties include parliamentarians in party delegations to the meetings and activities of the International.

The meeting in Manila provided us with a good example of the effectiveness of parliamentary networking internationally, when I joined members of parliament as a guest speaker at a special gathering of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), on the subject of Burma, the need for democracy there and our demand for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. The Parliamentary Caucus was established in November 2004 at a Workshop of ASEAN Parliamentarians on the Myanmar Issue, held in Malaysia, as part of the efforts of parliamentarians in the region to collectively engage ASEAN governments to put pressure on Burma to introduce democratic reforms.

Working for peace

The holding of our Council in Israel and Palestine reaffirms peace as a value at the heart of our movement. We in the International understand that the prospects for human progress, for a fairer, more justly governed world, are greatest when people can live free of conflict and without fear. And we know, too, that the task is never completed, that working to achieve and preserve peace is a part of life, here in the Middle East, virtually everywhere. The quest for peace - between nations, among peoples, across boundaries of language, culture and faith - is fundamental to the identity we share and a mission we will always embrace.

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