International Day of Parliamentarism
In COVID-19 times, Parliaments and other government institutions are subject to the same social distancing measures as other public and private organizations. Yet, in a time of crisis, the role of parliament is more vital than ever to pass emergency laws, allocate resources and scrutinize government action. Some parliaments are modifying laws and procedures to allow for remote working, some have continued meeting physically and some have recessed altogether. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is helping to facilitate inter-parliamentary coordination and solidarity by sharing examples of how parliaments can continue to legislate, debate and scrutinize the actions of government in a time of lockdown and social distancing.
What parliaments do
Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of democracy. They represent the voice of the people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments to account. They work to make sure that policies benefit all people, especially the most vulnerable.
Parliaments also link international and national agendas, ensuring that governments implement international treaties and agreements that they sign up to. They play a vital role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has been working closely with them to help build their capacity in doing so.
In countries emerging from conflict, robust parliaments can help make possible a peaceful transition to a functioning democracy by healing divisions in society through dialogue and cooperation.
June 30 is the day designated to celebrate the International Day of Parliamentarism. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/72/278, recognized the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. It is also the date, in 1889, on which the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) — the global organization of parliaments — was established.
This Day celebrates parliaments and the ways in which parliamentary systems of government improve the day-to-day lives of people the world over. It is also an opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.
Parliaments and the United Nations
Member States have encouraged the growing involvement of parliamentarians and parliamentary organizations in the work of the United Nations. Parliamentary organizations play a leading role in promoting the engagement of parliaments in United Nations processes and activities. Indeed, there is a recognition that when parliamentarians communicate their concerns and aspirations to the United Nations, the Organization is empowered to workd more closely with the people of the world.
The IPU, as the world organization of parliaments, connects national parliaments in order to promote greater transparency, accountability and participation at the global level. Along with other parliamentary organizations, IPU engages with the United Nations on activities that cover a broad range of issues, including peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.
Parliaments and the SDGs
Parliaments and parliamentary organizations played an active role throughout the negotiations on the post-2015 development framework, advocating strongly, for instance, for the inclusion of goals related to democratic governance. Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. Following the finalization of the 2030 Agenda, the focus of cooperation between the United Nations, national parliaments and parliamentary organizations has now firmly shifted towards implementation.