53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, India

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Name: 53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, India
Date: 21/09/2007 – 30/09/2007
Category: Political

This agenda for the September meeting of the Commonwealth’s oldest political gathering, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, was decided at a mid-April meeting in Limassol, Cyprus, of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Executive Committee. The meeting, hosted by the Parliament of Cyprus, agreed that the 53rd Conference, to be held in New Delhi from 21 to 30 September, will discuss environmental and accountability issues under the theme: Delivering Democracy and Sustainable Development. This year’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference will include a day-long Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Conference, the first such gathering since member Parliaments met in 1911 to form the Empire, later Commonwealth, Parliamentary Association and begin periodic meetings. Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians have been meeting during plenary conferences since 1989, but the New Delhi conference will be the first full-day opportunity for women MPs from the more than 170 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures to debate gender-related issues.

The conference is part of a programme of services and meetings agreed in Limassol by the committee to reinforce the Commonwealth’s commitment to good democratic governance. The programme this year includes: a workshop on relations between Parliament and the media in Tonga, a conference in British Columbia with the World Bank Institute on anti-corruption and poverty reduction, a workshop in Kenya on African trade issues with the World Trade Organization, a June forum in Uganda with the Commonwealth Secretariat on gender issues in advance of the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting there and the production of television and radio programmes on the advancement of parliamentary democracy.

Executive Committee Chairman Hon. Hashim Abdul Halim, MLA, Speaker of India’s West Bengal Legislative Assembly, praised the Parliament, government and people of the Republic of Cyprus for supporting the advancement of democracy by hosting the CPA meeting. He said Commonwealth Parliamentarians back Cypriot efforts to reunify the eastern Mediterranean island in a bicommunal, bizonal federation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots which fully reflects the democratic principles of the Commonwealth and its member countries and is in accordance with the pertinent United Nations resolutions.

The committee was briefed on the state of United Nations-sponsored talks to end 33 years of Turkish military occupation of 36.4 per cent of Cyprus. The President of the Cypriot House of Representatives, H.E Hon. Demetris Christofias, MP, told the committee that the international community must find the political will to condemn state terrorism. Committee Members viewed the UN-patrolled “Green Line” and looked across it into the occupied areas.

Shri Halim and other CPA Officers also met the President of Cyprus, H.E. Mr Tassos Papadopoulos, and Foreign Minister Mr. George Lïllikas. As well as the women MPs’ conference in New Delhi, all delegates will discuss an issue put forward by the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians: what Parliamentarians can do to curb human trafficking. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference will also hear addresses by the Commonwealth Secretary General, H.E. Rt Hon. Don McKinnon, and CPA Secretary-General Dr William F. Shija. The conference will be opened by the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and presided over by Hon. Somnath Chatterjee, MP, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower House. The full agenda for the New Delhi conference is attached.

Environmental protection will also feature on the agenda for the 27th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference of Members from Small Countries, which was also set by the CPA Executive Committee during its Limassol meeting.

Approximately 70 Parliamentarians from more than 30 nations, states, provinces and territories with populations of under 400,000 will discuss “Protecting the Environment to Assure Sustainable Development” and three other issues over two days prior to the plenary conference.The CPA Secretary-General said its conference of MPs from some of the world’s smallest jurisdictions, along with Association’s network of regional parliamentary conferences, seminars on practice and procedure, publications and workshops on governance issues makes Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures, their Members and staff more effective and deepens the commitment of all Commonwealth nations to democratic government. During its Limassol meeting, Dr Shija said the CPA Executive Committee placed the membership of the Parliaments of Fiji Islands and Bangladesh in abeyance until they resume democratic governance.