IPU meeting with a focus on reduced inequalities

Published: 6 April 2017 at 14.00

The Inter-Parliamentary Union's (IPU's) 136th Assembly took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 1-5 April. The Speaker Urban Ahlin led a Riksdag delegation to the meeting which gathered parliamentarians and Speakers from 126 countries.

A total of 1,206 people, including 607 parliamentarians and 82 Speakers or Deputy Speakers, participated in the Spring Assembly in Dhaka. The IPU Assembly also welcomed two new member countries: Tuvalu and the Central African Republic.

Parts of the Swedish delegation at a visit to a textile factory. Photo: The Riksdag Administration

Resolution on looming famine in Yemen

The IPU Assembly adopted a resolution on an emergency item - the looming famine and drought in Yemen and parts of Africa. The IPU's member countries agreed to put pressure on their respective governments at home and in the UN in order to increase economic support to the affected areas.

A polarised discussion on state sovereignty versus protection of human rights, initiated by Cyprus and Russia, revealed a division between delegations from the West and the East. The issue concerned opportunities for intervention in the internal affairs of states in the case of serious violations of human rights, such as genocide. Krister Örnfjäder (Social Democratic Party) and Kalle Olsson (Social Democratic Party) debated the issues in the committee. A resolution was adopted, but the Swedish delegation was among those that entered reservations.

General debate with a focus on vulnerable groups

The general debate was about reducing inequalities within and among countries, with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as children, women and the poor. In his main speech, the Speaker of the Riksdag Urban Ahlin, mentioned the importance of free trade as an instrument in the fight against poverty and inequality. At the same time, he stressed how important it is that economic growth benefits everyone. That is why politics is also needed in order to distribute resources and narrow the gaps.

In addition to the IPU meetings, the Speaker also took part in a number of bilateral meetings with fellow Speakers: the Bangladeshi Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, the Georgian Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, the Mongolian Speaker Miyegombo Enkhbold and the South Korean Speaker Chung Sye Kyun. He also held deliberations with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and Minister for Commerce Tofail Ahmed.

The work of the members of the Riksdag during the session

Anti Avsan (Moderate Party), Chair of the IPU's Standing Committee on United National Affairs, led meetings, among other things, on the new sustainable development goals and what parliaments are doing to implement these goals, as well as on the main theme of the UN high-level meeting in July on how to combat poverty.

The situation of women had a significant impact on large parts of the session in Dhaka. In her speech, Monica Green (Social Democratic Party) highlighted the importance of safeguarding girls' and young women's health, in particular, as these groups are more vulnerable than many others. She urged a more feminist approach to this issue.

Teres Lindberg (Social Democratic Party) and Johanna Jönsson (Centre Party) were responsible for a speech that urged the inclusion of women in financial contexts. By excluding women from large sections of the economy, we are saying no to economic development and economic growth. A resolution was adopted on increased international cooperation on the 2030 Agenda goals, with a special emphasis on the inclusion of women as a catalyst for economic development.

Field visit to aid project

The Swedish delegation paid a field visit in Eastern Bangladesh to a Swedish-funded aid project for climate adaptation, resilience and water. The delegation also visited a textile factory and met independent trade unions, as well as an ILO project that receives Swedish support. The delegation met UN Women and Bangladeshi organisations to discuss work with equality, women's rights and men's violence against women. The indigenous people in the country and the situation of Rohingya refugees was discussed. Visits to the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and to the Chief of Police in Dhaka were also included in the Swedish delegation's programme.

In addition to the Speaker Urban Ahlin, the Riksdag delegation consisted of Chair of the IPU delegation Krister Örnfjäder (Social Democratic Party), First Deputy Chair Anti Avsan (Moderate Party), Second Deputy Chair Monica Green (Social Democratic Party), Teres Lindberg (Social Democratic Party), Kalle Olsson (Social Democratic Party) and Johanna Jönsson (Centre Party).

IPU - the Inter-Parliamentary Union

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is a global organisation for the parliaments of independent states. It was established over one hundred years ago to promote peace and international cooperation. The IPU was established in 1889 and the number of members has more than doubled in the last thirty years. The organisation serves to foster contacts between parliamentarians in all countries and to encourage the development of parliamentary institutions. Helping to build democratic functions, work procedures and functioning parliaments represents an increasing share of the IPU's activities.


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