The 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly has opened with a call to governments to respect the rights of minorities and the Opposition.
The President of the IPU, Mr. Saber Chowdhury (Bangladesh), decried the practice of governments marginalising the Opposition and said that in some countries, other institutions or arms of government were taking on the functions of Parliament.
Citing Venezuela, Mr. Chowdhury said that the Judiciary was taking up the work of Parliament there.
“In many countries, the Opposition is marginalised. We must protect institutions and also protect the rights of minorities and the Opposition,” he said.
Russian President H. E Vladmir Putin opened the Assembly at the ExpoForum, in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday, 14th Oct. 2017. The meeting attracted over 2,000 legislators, 96 Speakers/Presiding Officers and 14 Deputy Speakers.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, led the Parliament of Uganda delegation to the 137th IPU Assembly and Related Meetings. Other MPs on the delegation include: Hon. Francis Mwijukye, Hon. Maureen Osoru, Hon. Latif Ssebagala, Hon. Raphael Magyezi and Hon. Juliet Mukoda.
The Clerk to Parliament Mrs. Jane Kibirige and the Deputy Clerk (Parliamentary Affairs), Mr. Paul Wabwire, are also attending IPU related meetings.
Without mentioning names, Mr. Chowdhury said the IPU was grateful that the Russian government had accepted to grant visas to all participants including those from countries that have no relations.
“This is great victory for parliamentary relations. When governments stop talking to each other, it’s important that parliamentarians continue to talk to each other (through the IPU),” said Mr. Chowdhury adding that “How can we dialogue if we cannot even visit each other?”
President Putin said that the use of international law and dialogue in resolving conflict had disappeared and that imposing sanctions against legislators was counterproductive.
“Unfortunately, we see that the attempts to limit the direct contacts and communication among lawmakers has been made more and more often,” he said adding that “The practice of imposition of discriminatory restrictions and sanction lists, which includes lawmakers, is inadmissible and harmful.”
The 137th IPU Assembly and Related Meetings is being held in St. Petersburg, 14 – 18th Oct. 2017. At the end of the meetings, a new President of IPU will be elected to replace Mr. Chowdhury.
The President of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians at the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Hon. Mourine Osoru, has called on governments to provide young people with the best conditions under which they can participate in politics in order to promote social cohesion in conflict areas.
Osoru (NRM), who is also the Arua District Woman Member of Parliament, was speaking during the general debate of the ongoing 137th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) in St. Petersburg, Russia on 15th Oct. 2017.
“Governments, parliaments and international organizations are increasingly using young MPs as mediators to resolve community and other conflicts, including inter-faith and inter-ethnic conflicts,” said Hon. Osoru adding that, “here we are as young parliamentarians of the IPU, ready to work together with all of you to advance peace and harmony.”
Osoru’s presentation was in line with the theme: “Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue.”
She said that media content showed lots of inter-ethnic and inter-faith conflict – all of which is fueled by intolerance, discrimination and inequalities in different parts of the world. Osoru recommended that governments use dialogue, tolerance, empathy, knowledge and equality as “weapons” to advance harmony in the conflict areas.
“Providing equal opportunities to all is an antidote to marginalization, alienation and radicalization. It is also a warranty of fair and sustainable development that is centred on people and that benefits all of them,” Osoru said.
She said that tolerance was not only a behavior, but a way that needed to be taught and experienced and practiced in the family and community.
“No one should be punished or abused for having a belief that is different from that of the majority. The fact of belonging to a certain ethnic group should not pre-determine a person’s place in society,” she said.
The legislator said that conditions provided by government for young people to participate in political life, should be able to make them feel that they have a voice and place in society.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, led a parliament of Uganda delegation to the 137th IPU Assembly and Related Meetings. The other MPs include: Hon. Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju), Hon. Raphael Magyezi (NRM, Igara West), Hon. Judith Mukoda (Ind., Mayuge district) and Hon. Latif Ssebaggala (Ind., Kawempe North).
Russian President Vladmir Putin officially opened the Assembly on Saturday.
According to the IPU, inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue is an essential component of respect of diversity and promotion of sustainable peace. According to the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, respect for the diversity of cultures, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust and understanding, are the best guarantees of international peace and security.