The Swiss delegation participated in the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Manama from 11 to 15 March 2023, organised by the Parliament of Bahrain. Some 136 delegations from national parliaments (699 parliamentarians, of whom 33.8% were women and 21.5% were young parliamentarians) took part in the Assembly, including those from countries in conflict situations, such as Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
The 146th IPU Assembly focused on the theme of promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies. During the general debate, National Council member Christine Badertscher (BE/The Greens)
spoke on behalf of the delegation and highlighted the growing intolerance of other political views and the disengagement of young people from the democratic process. She urged members to take action against these tendencies. Following the general debate, the Manama Declaration (E/F) was adopted. Among other things, it calls on parliaments to expand the participation of women and young people in politics and to work for gender equality.
In accordance with IPU rules, members in Manama also adopted by consensus an emergency resolution (E/F) calling for action to address humanitarian crises in several countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. The resolution stresses the need for international support to mitigate the impact of crises, the importance of ensuring access to humanitarian assistance, and the obligation of states to respect human rights and humanitarian law.
Two resolutions were passed at the Assembly. The first one focuses on parliamentary efforts to achieve a negative carbon balance for forests, highlighting their importance in reducing the impact of climate change and achieving negative carbon balances (Standing Committee on Sustainable Development,
The second resolution addresses the growing threat of cybercrime and its potential impact on global security (Standing Committee on Peace and International Security,
E/F). The resolution stresses the need for international cooperation to fight cybercrime while respecting human rights. It underlines the need to protect individuals' privacy and freedom of speech in the fight against cybercrime and calls for increased awareness and educational campaigns to inform individuals. This resolution on international cybercrime was strongly criticised before the Assembly for mixing the two issues of cyber attacks and cyber crime. The Swiss delegation, represented by National Council members Thomas Hurter (SH/SVP) and Laurent Wehrli (VD/FDP), was very committed to this resolution and proposed several amendments, in particular in relation to the deletion of certain terms that challenge existing international law and the deletion of references related to the loss of sovereignty.
Committee on United Nations Affairs
The IPU Governing Council approved a roadmap for the implementation of the report on the IPU political project at the United Nations, which recommends a review of the mandate and working methods of the Standing Committee on UN Affairs. The Committee's Bureau proposed improvements to the Committee's modalities and working methods, which were adopted at the 146th IPU Assembly in Manama. The Committee's mandate includes mobilising parliamentarians around selected UN reform issues, promoting parliamentary oversight of the UN, promoting parliamentary engagement in key UN accountability processes, promoting stronger relations between UN country teams and national parliaments, and monitoring parliamentary ratification of selected UN treaties. This proposal to revise the mandate was made by National Council member Laurent Wehrli (VD/FDP), who assumed the
ad interim chairmanship of this committee from October 2022 to March 2023.
In Manama, two Swiss members of the delegation, National Council members Laurent Wehrli and Christian Lohr (TG/The Centre), were elected to the Bureau of the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security and the Bureau of the IPU Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights respectively. They took office the day after the Assembly.
The Swiss delegation met with the Turkish delegation to the IPU. They discussed the recent earthquake in Turkey, and Turkey expressed its gratitude for Switzerland's rapid assistance in response to the disaster. They also discussed the upcoming elections in Turkey (May 2023) and Turkey's exit from the Istanbul Convention (March 2021). These bilateral meetings provide an opportunity for countries to discuss common issues and concerns and to strengthen international parliamentary relations.
The Swiss Delegation to the IPU was represented at the 146th IPU Assembly by its President, Council of States member Daniel Jositsch (ZH, SP), its Vice-President, National Council member Thomas Hurter (SH, SVP), as well as National Council members Christine Badertscher (BE, The Greens), Laurence Fehlmann Rielle (GE, SP) and Laurent Wehrli (VD, FDP).
The next assembly is scheduled to take place in Luanda, Angola, from 23 to 27 October 2023.
Council of States member Daniel Jositsch, President of the Swiss Delegation to the IPU
National Council member Laurent Wehrli, President ad interim of the IPU Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs
National Council member Thomas Hurter during the plenary session of the IPU Standing Committee on Peace and International Security
National Council member Christine Badertscher during the general debate
From left to right: National Council members Laurent Wehrli, Christine Badertscher and Laurence Fehlmann Rielle during the closing session of the 146th IPU Assembly
Group photograph of the Standing Committee on Peace and International Security
Group photograph of the Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs
Bahrain's new conference centre illuminated