Bahrain’s hosting of the 146th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the accompanying meetings on March 11 - 15 March is an important event due to the important status of the Union as a global organization with a wide international weight and presence.
The hosting also reflects the local, regional and international success of the Kingdom’s parliamentary reputation.
The national parliaments of 178 countries are members of the IPU, while 13 regional parliamentary assemblies are associate members.
The IPU primary purpose is to promote democratic governance, accountability, and cooperation among its members; other initiatives include advancing gender parity among legislatures, empowering youth participation in politics, and sustainable development.
It also defends the human rights of parliamentarians through a dedicated committee made up of MPs from around the world.
Twice a year, the IPU convenes over 1,500 parliamentary delegates and partners in a world assembly, bringing a parliamentary dimension to global governance, including the work of the United Nations and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The IPU was established in 1889 as the Inter-Parliamentary Congress. Its founders were statesmen Frédéric Passy of France and William Randal Cremer of the United Kingdom, who sought to create the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations.
Initially, IPU membership was reserved for individual parliamentarians, but has since transformed to include the legislatures of sovereign states.
The headquarters of the union were initially in Bern, Switzerland (1892–1911). They were later moved to Brussels, Belgium (1911-1914), Oslo, Norway (1914–1920) and Geneva, Switzerland (1921-present).
The IPU has facilitated the development of international law and institutions, including the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the League of Nations, and the United Nations.
It also sponsors and takes part in international conferences and forums, and has permanent observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.
The organs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union are:
Assembly: Meeting biannually, the Assembly is composed of parliamentarians designated as delegates by the Members. The Assembly is assisted in its work by Standing Committees, whose number and terms of reference are determined by the Governing Council; Standing Committees shall normally prepare reports and draft resolutions for the Assembly. No one delegate may record more than ten votes.
Governing Council: The Governing Council normally holds two sessions a year. The Governing Council is composed of three representatives from each Member. The term of office of a member of the Governing Council lasts from one Assembly to the next and all the members of the Governing Council must be sitting members of Parliament. The Governing Council elects the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a period of three years. It also elects the members of the executive committee and appoints the Secretary General of the Union.
Executive Committee: The executive committee is composed of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 15 members belonging to different Parliaments (elected by the Governing Council; not less than 12 are elected from among the members of the Governing Council) and the President of the Coordinating Committee of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians.
The 15 elected seats are assigned to the geopolitical groups. Only parliamentarians from States where women have both the right to vote and the right to stand for election are eligible to the executive committee.
The executive committee is the administrative organ of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Secretariat: The Secretariat constitutes the totality of the staff of the organization under the direction of the Secretary General currently Martin Chungong who was unanimously re-elected for a third four-year term as Secretary General of the IPU at the 143rd IPU Assembly in Madrid.
Chungong, the eighth Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, is a Cameroonian. He is the first non-European and first African to be elected IPU Secretary-General. He assumed the post on July 1, 2014.
The IPU Assemblies are held twice each year in Geneva, or in any other city around the world. The 146th Assembly will be held in Bahrain under the theme of "Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: fighting intolerance".