The SI held a meeting of parliamentarians from its member parties on the occasion of the 134th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, IPU, which took place in Lusaka, Zambia, from the 19th to the 23rd of March 2016. Participants, attending from all continents, also included a number of Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliament and Leaders of Parliamentary Groups from our political family.
The meeting held discussions on issues of particular concern to members in regard to current international developments, the contribution of our movement to democracy at both global and national level, conflict resolution, the fate of refugees and the migration phenomenon, and an exchange of views on items on the agenda of the IPU Assembly.
The meeting, chaired by the SI Secretary General, included parliamentarians from member parties and organisations from Angola, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Lesotho, Palestine, Portugal, Russian Federation, São Tomé and Principe, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and Venezuela, as well as a representative from The Global Fund.
In their exchange of views, participants touched upon aspects of the issues for debate by the IPU Assembly, and in particular, they examined the choice of emergency items due to be voted on. The Deputy-Speaker of the National Assembly of France introduced the motion which they had submitted relating to the 230 million unregistered children in the world. The representative from Morocco presented the motion submitted by their national delegation on the process for international recognition of a sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. The third emergency item relating to human trafficking, presented to the IPU by Sudan, was also noted.
In a round of interventions, all participants had the opportunity to address and share information on issues of concern to their party or country. The meeting heard reports on the latest political developments in a number of cases, including where there were new governments from our movement as in Burkina Faso and Portugal, and the situation in Nepal where a new constitution had just been agreed; the challenges faced by the Palestinian people in their quest for an independent state and respect for their human rights; the challenges to democracy such as those experienced by the new parliament in Venezuela vis-à-vis the country’s President, the ongoing political crisis in Haiti which needed much more attention from the international community, or the situation in Turkey and the role of our members, political developments in Guinea-Bissau and in São Tomé & Principe; an update on Russia, and equally information on the current situation in Czech Republic and Hungary. There was also a contribution on the prospects in Spain to form a new government following the last elections.
The issue of terrorism was of major concern among the contributions, as highlighted by the representatives from some of those countries most recently affected, namely Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso. The President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso expressed appreciation and thanks to the Socialist International for its solidarity at a crucial time, and stressed the need for joint efforts to combat terror.
The pressing issue of refugees and internally displaced people was highlighted by many, and in its discussions the meeting agreed to reiterate the SI’s unequivocal position on this subject: namely the need to firmly defend the human rights and physical integrity of all refugees and asylum seekers in line with international norms and United Nations conventions; to underline the illegality of all forms of collective deportations; to recall that the poorest countries are burdened with the greatest number of refugees while noting that richer countries invest large sums in border controls; to stress the imperative to combat all forms of xenophobia and racial discrimination, and to draw attention to the values on which the EU was founded. Amongst the key challenges noted were taking measures to defend those who are most vulnerable, namely women and children, and the obligation of every member of the international community to aid and protect.
In the meeting’s discussions, the question of gender equality in politics was also commented on by several participants, including information on new instances where more women had reached higher positions of responsibility. During the IPU Assembly in Lusaka, the SI also attended the meeting of women parliamentarians.
During the discussions it was registered by many participants the value of these meetings held by the International.
While in Lusaka, the SI Secretary General also paid a visit to the headquarters of the SI member party in Zambia, the ruling Patriotic Front, where he held a meeting with Davies Chama, their Secretary General.