The Serbian parliament hosted the 141st IPU Assembly from 13 to 17 October in Belgrade, at the Sava Centre, the largest international congress centre in South Eastern Europe. More than 179 countries sent national parliamentary delegations to the Assembly. This was the second time that Belgrade has hosted the IPU Assembly: the 52nd Assembly was held there in 1963. The theme of this session wasStrengthening International Law: Parliamentary roles and mechanisms. Following a general debate on the topic, the delegates adopted the Belgrade Declaration: Parliament’s Role and Mechanisms in Empowering of International Law and Contribution to Regional Cooperation, in which the IPU Member Parliaments underline the importance of a peaceful world order based on the rule of law. They express their support for strong and effective multilateral institutions designed to find solutions to shared problems and to resolve disputes between States, with a central role played by the United Nations. They also express their support for regional cooperation as a mechanism to strengthen the international legal order and to ensure the implementation of joint international commitments.

Standing committees:

The IPU standing committees had much to debate. The Committee on Democracy & Human Rights examined the resolution co-submitted by National Council member Christian Lohr (PDC/TG) on achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, which calls on parliaments to take all necessary legislative and political measures to establish UHC by 2030. This involves putting into place effective legislation that ensures access to public health services and medical care for the whole of a country’s population, without discrimination. In the words of the IPU president, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, this resolution has real potential to transform people’s lives. The parliaments of the IPU Member States should strive to make peoples’ lives better "by making universal health coverage a reality, especially for women, children and adolescents. It is a question of political will." Ms Cuevas Barron added that one of the IPU’s main priorities is "to translate international agreements into national realities for our countries and people".

The Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade, meanwhile, addressed the issue of mainstreaming digitalisation and the circular economy to achieve the SDGs, while the Committee on Peace and International Security discussed parliamentary strategies to strengthen peace and security. Their work will provide a basis for upcoming resolutions to be discussed in Geneva in April 2020.

Site visit:

The delegation made the most of its trip to Belgrade by also visiting the Science Technology Park, a start-up incubator which has received CHF 5.5 million in funding from the Swiss Confederation. The TechnoPark helps young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and offers support in a range of areas (legal, financial) in order to set them on the path to success. The delegation was struck by the number of young who, having grown up in Switzerland, have returned to their own country to set up a business, and in some cases already employ a considerable number of people. Opened in 2015, the TechnoPark provides a real boost to new businesses: in 2018, it supported over 70 technology start-ups and provided training to 200 future entrepreneurs. The numbers for 2019 are also very promising.

The delegation praised Switzerland’s activities in Belgrade, as well as the work of its diplomats there.

In 2019, the IPU is also celebrating its 130th anniversary.


In addition to its president, Council of States member Andrea Caroni (FDP/AR), the Swiss delegation comprised the following members of the National Council:

  • Christian Lohr (PDC/TG), delegation vice president
  • Margret Kiener Nellen (SP/BE),
  • Felix Müri (SVP/LU),
  • Laurent Wehrli (FDP/VD).

Upcoming IPU assemblies:

142th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland (16–20 April 2020)

143th Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda (11–15 October 2020)

Further information is available on the IPU website:


The IPU in brief:

The Inter-Parliamentary Union has 179 Member Parliaments and 12 Associate Members. Its mission is to promote democracy and empower parliaments, helping them to modernise, to achieve greater gender equality and to represent the public in all its diversity. The IPU also defends the human rights of parliamentarians with a special committee of parliamentarians from all over the world who are devoted to this cause. The IPU brings together 1,500 delegates and parliamentarians in a global assembly twice a year, and it adds a parliamentary perspective to the work of the UN and to the application of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.