Ben Kalu seeks amendment of IPU rules, gives reasons

By Chris Udochukwu

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has requested the amendment of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) General Assembly rules to accommodate more emergency items.

Incidentally, the proposal has been accepted for consideration alongside others such as raising awareness of the International Court of Justice provisional measures for Israel in relation to Palestinians in Gaza; the need for urgent action on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza; the immediate release of the hostages in Gaza and the parliamentary diplomacy for peace in Palestine moved by some countries as the authors.

Some other proposals also tendered for consideration were a call for urgent action regarding the conflict in the Middle East; Free, fair and transparent elections without prohibitions aimed towards an orderly and peaceful democratic transition in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; and the call for urgent action to end the aggression and massive violations of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking at the just concluded 148th meeting of the Union in Geneva, Switzerland, Kalu said that the current IPU General Assembly Rule 11(2) shortchanges Africa and the crises that bedevilled the continent.

He said: “We must reconsider our approach to addressing emergency items. Rule 11.2 allows for flexibility, suggesting the possibility of addressing multiple urgent issues. Neglecting regions like Africa, where significant challenges persist, is unacceptable. Let us interpret the rule’s purpose – addressing pressing issues – to allow for consideration of multiple emergency items. By reforming our processes, we can ensure parliamentary diplomacy truly reflects the world’s diverse needs.

“I am proposing one item per continent at every assembly to energize the voices of concern across the globe”, he said.

Rule 11(2) of IPU General Assembly stated that “Consideration and acceptance by the Assembly of a request for the inclusion of an emergency item in its agenda shall be subject to the following provisions: (a) A request for the inclusion of an emergency item must relate to a
recent major situation of international concern on which urgent action
by the international community is required and on which it is appropriate for the IPU to express its opinion and mobilize a parliamentary response. Such a request must receive a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in order to be accepted.

“(b) The Assembly may place only one emergency item on its agenda.
Should several requests obtain the requisite majority, the one having
received the largest number of positive votes shall be accepted.”

Kalu who bemoaned the conflicts in some parts of the world urged the IPU to urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and also create a task force for Sudan and other countries facing similar challenges in Africa.

“Sunday’s deliberation on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza showed us what parliamentary diplomacy should not be. We failed to reach a consensus, missing a crucial opportunity for
collective action.

“It is a cause for concern that the plight of Africa, where thousands of lives are lost to ongoing conflicts, has yet to be addressed as an emergency item. From the horrific situation in Sudan, with over 13,000 lives lost, to the ongoing tragedy in the D.R. Congo, to the militancy and terror in Sahel Africa, the human cost of these conflicts cannot be ignored because the ripple effects of these crises in Africa ultimately impact the world.

“It is in this regard that IPU must as a matter of utmost imperative create a task force for Sudan. The unchecked crises in Sudan, Somalia, and D.R. Congo, all in Africa, create a ripple effect of instability across the continent, breeding conditions for extremism, mass displacement, and a drain on resources that could be used for development”, he said.

Lamenting the poor percentage of women in politics, the Deputy Speaker called for gender equality and inclusion in governance, stressing that women’s underrepresention in parliament impeded progress.

“Gender equality and inclusion in governance and peacebuilding is
essential. Statistically, the representation of women in parliament in the world, hovering around 26%, is a stark reminder that we have yet to fully utilize the talent and perspective of half of the world’s
population”, Kalu said.

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