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Commonwealth Parliamentarians highlight strong parliamentary institutions for peace and stability at 147th IPU Assembly in Angola

Commonwealth Parliamentarians attended the 147th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Luanda, Angola from 23 to 27 October 2023. The IPU Assembly focused on the theme of ‘Parliamentary action for peace, justice and strong institutions’ (SDG 16) with Speakers and Members of Parliaments discussing the role of Legislatures in promoting a resilient and peaceful world. The President of the National Assembly of Angola, Hon. Carolina Cerqueira welcomed delegates to Luanda.

Hon. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of UNOAU said:

“By making SDG 16 on the quest for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions the focus of the 147th IPU Assembly, the IPU is contributing to our collective efforts in furtherance of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

Commonwealth Parliamentarians attended the 147th IPU Assembly from across the CPA’s membership including Guyana; Zambia; Malawi; Seychelles; Australia; Tanzania; Nigeria; Mozambique; India; Sierra Leone; Ghana; Kenya; Fiji; Malta; Namibia; Bangladesh; Pakistan; Malaysia; Canada; United Kingdom; The Gambia; Rwanda.

Above: Pictured are the Speakers of Parliaments in Ghana, Guyana, Sierra Leone and Zambia addressing the #147th IPU Assembly (Image credit: IPU).

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Jarvis Matiya attended the 147th IPU Assembly to meet with Speakers and Members during the week and to join the launch of the new IPU Indicators for Democratic Parliaments. The Indicators have been developed over a four-year period, with input from the CPA alongside more than 50 Parliaments and international partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, Directorio Legislativo, Inter Pares, National Democratic Institute and Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Above: The CPA Deputy Secretary-General addresses the 147th IPU Assembly to mark the launch of the new IPU Indicators for Democratic Parliaments.

The new IPU Indicators for Democratic Parliaments were launched by the IPU Secretary-General, Martin Chungong with the purpose of supporting parliamentary learning and development and offering a framework for assessing parliamentary capacity and practice. The 25 indicators are linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal targets 16.6 and 16.7 and cover all aspects of parliamentary action including law-making, oversight and representation. Find out more by clicking here.

Outlining how the CPA values the importance of parliamentary strengthening and assessment for Commonwealth Parliaments, the CPA Deputy Secretary-General said:

“Any assessment, evaluation, stock taking or review of institutional impact is good for governance. The CPA prides itself in its commitment to supporting and strengthening Parliaments and Legislatures throughout the Commonwealth. We took the lead in 2006 in developing the CPA’s ‘Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures’ which were updated in 2018 to include UN SDG 16.
Since then, 22 Parliaments have utilised the CPA Benchmarks as part of their assessments of their performance, resulting in institutional reforms such as establishing women’s parliamentary caucuses, revising their Standing Orders and developing Codes of Conduct. More importantly, the CPA Benchmarks assessment have strengthened public outreach, engagement and confidence. With the support of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the CPA Secretariat is work with Parliaments in the Pacific and the Caribbean to assist them in conducting self-assessments using the CPA Benchmarks. Going forward, the CPA will also be reviewing the Benchmarks with a view to strengthening them further.”

During the 147th IPU Assembly, Member Parliaments elected Hon. Dr Tulia Ackson, MP, Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania as the 31st IPU President for a term of three years. She is the first woman from Africa to hold the position and all four candidates were women MPs from the Africa Region. The IPU President is the political head of the organisation who chairs its statutory meetings and represents the organisation at major global events.

Above: The Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania, Hon. Dr Tulia Ackson, MP, following her election as the 31st IPU President (Image credit: IPU).

The new IPU President succeeds the outgoing President, Hon. Duarte Pacheco, MP from Portugal who was elected in 2020 in the first IPU online election during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past 25 years, the IPU Presidency has been held by prominent Parliamentarians from Egypt, Spain, India, Chile, Italy, Namibia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Mexico and Portugal.

The Bahamas became the IPU’s 180th Member Parliament during the 147th IPU Assembly with Minister of Labour and the Public Service, Hon Pia Glover-Rolle, MP saying:

"We share many of the same goals and objectives, not least of which is a commitment to promoting and advancing global peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development. We are proud to now be a part of this international community, which truly represents the interests of governments and nations around the world."

It was also announced that the Speaker of the Tuvalu Parliament, Mr Samuelu Penitala Teo, was awarded the 2023 Cremer-Passy Prize as the IPU MP of the Year. The award was made in recognition of his record on climate action since 1998 when he first became an MP. Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable island nations when it comes to climate change as it lies only three metres above sea level. The Speaker has raised the issues facing Tuvalu at many international forums, including the GLOBE COP26 Legislators Summit at the Scottish Parliament in November 2021.

Above: The Speaker of the Tuvalu Parliament, Mr Samuelu Penitala Teo (centre right), was awarded the 2023 Cremer-Passy Prize as the IPU MP of the Year (Image credit: IPU).

The IPU also premiered its new anthem during the opening of its 147th Assembly, written by the Spanish composer Pedro Halffter and performed by the Kaposoka Symphony Orchestra, an Angolan orchestra made up of teenagers from vulnerable families. In addition, an official recording of the IPU anthem has been made by the UN Chamber Music Ensemble, led by Ms Brenda Vongova.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organisation of national Parliaments that began in 1889 to promote peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue.

The 148th IPU Assembly is due to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 23 to 27 March 2024.

-ENDS-

Related Resources

CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures (2018)

Building on the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles on the separation of powers, the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a framework for excellence in Commonwealth parliamentary and legislative practice.

International Humanitarian Law Handbook

The Handbook has been developed in partnership with the British Red Cross to support Parliamentarians in promoting International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and ensuring its effective implementation. 

Climate Change and Small States: Parliamentary Toolkit

The Toolkit seeks to support parliamentarians from small states and jurisdictions to increase their understanding of Climate Change and how best to ensure adaptation and mitigation strategies are in place domestically and internationally. 

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