Vow to take declaration forward through action

PARLIAMENTARIANS from around the world reached consensus on global objectives under the Manama Declaration issued at the conclusion of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) 146th Assembly, at Exhibition World Bahrain, Sakhir yesterday.

More than 1,700 parliamentarians and officials from 143 countries deliberated on a range of global and regional issues during the conference, themed ‘Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance’.

The Assembly, which has been in meeting since Saturday, was headed by Bahrain’s National Assembly and Parliament Speaker Ahmed Al Musallam, elected unanimously for the role on Sunday.

“We pledge to take this declaration forward through concrete action and in accordance with the core values of the IPU as outlined in its current strategy,” read the declaration.

“We, Members of Parliament from around the world, gathered at the 146th IPU Assembly in Manama are deeply aware of the dangers that hate, intolerance, exclusion and violence in all their forms pose to the very foundations of democracy and to the social contract that holds our societies together,” it added.

“Consumed by greed and competition, our world is facing social and economic inequalities on an unprecedented scale. “Heightened economic insecurity is breaking communities apart and leaving growing numbers of people socially isolated, fending for themselves and often with inadequate access to public services and social safety nets.”

The declaration also pointed out that inequality and economic insecurity can give rise to anger and frustration in communities everywhere.

“The dignity intrinsic to every human being can be undermined by factors such as poverty, the denial of inalienable economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, violations of the rule of law, discrimination against women, lack of inclusion of youth, and the de facto exclusion from politics of the most vulnerable and marginalised,” it declared.

“Xenophobia, racism, intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation, discrimination and extremist narratives are all expressions of this deep malaise in our societies.

“They manifest themselves in hate speech or outright violence in various forms against migrants, disabled persons, and national, ethnic, religious, linguistic or other minorities perceived as a threat to the established order.

“They can also be expressed in the desecration of religious sites and symbols, actions which are deeply offensive to people of faith.”

The declaration recognised the diversity within communities as a source of enrichment.

“We reaffirm the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” it said.

“Regrettably, some in positions of influence in society seek to exploit the vulnerabilities of others, sowing hatred and division as a way to advance their own interests.

“Digital platforms designed to facilitate social interaction and communication are being misused to micro-target, amplify and spread disinformation and ill intent against others. “The ease with which some of these voices speak in total disregard for the truth carries profound dangers for democracy. Most worryingly, their words can be a direct cause of violence and intolerance within communities and between nations.”

The declaration encouraged response to these challenges by encouraging collaborative networks promoting dialogue and joint projects in service to the community, by creating channels for conflict prevention and mediation, by promoting moderation, by advancing education and awareness building, and by encouraging community and religious leaders to contribute to these objectives.

“We commit to speaking out against intolerance and especially any advocacy of hatred that constitutes discrimination, hostility or violence.

“We will also assist in the resolution of conflict through the exercise of parliamentary diplomacy.”

It also urges parliamentarians to speak and act responsibly towards all people, particularly those who disagree with them, and in ways that bring people together peacefully in pursuit of the common good.

“We affirm that societies that are inclusive and just, and in which rights are upheld, are more likely to be cohesive, peaceful and democratic.

“We pledge to fight inequality through rights-based economic and social policies that put people before profit and the weak before the strong, and that uphold the equality and dignity of every person.

“We reaffirm the urgent need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – leaving no one behind – as our best hope for peace, democracy and sustainable development for all.

“More concretely, we are committed to our lawmaking, representative and oversight functions towards all declared objectives.”

 

Following are the objectives under the declaration:

- Make hate-motivated acts and all forms of violence linked to religion, belief, xenophobia, racism or intolerance of marginalised groups an offence under the law;

- Invest in education for all and at all levels, including peace education and “education for democracy”, pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolutions by this name;

- Make parliamentary proceedings consistently open to the input of relevant civil society organisations and community groups representative of the diversity of society;

- Engage in constructive, respectful dialogue with parliamentarians of all political persuasions both nationally and internationally;

- Perform audits of our parliaments to make sure they reflect the communities they represent in all their diversity;

- Ensure that national statistics institutes and research bodies produce up-to-date disaggregated data to assist with the formulation of inclusive economic and social policies; l Take active measures to increase the representation of women and youth, as well as of national, ethnic, religious, linguistic and other marginalised and vulnerable communities in member parliaments;

- Uphold the rights of migrants, refugees and stateless people, as particularly vulnerable groups, consistent with international conventions;

- Regulate digital platforms and other media to diminish the risk of hate speech and various forms of disinformation while protecting the fundamental right of free speech as a bulwark of democracy;

- Protect cultural sites as expressions of our common heritage, as well as holy sites, places of worship and religious symbols as expressions of different religions and beliefs; and

- Promote interaction with relevant UN organisations working for interfaith and intercultural dialogue, and support UN peacekeeping and mediation efforts.

Several elections took place for various IPU bodies: Monder Boudon (Algeria) was elected as president of the High-Level Advisory Group on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism; Dan Carden (UK) as president of the IPU Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians; Cynthia López Castro (Mexico) as the president of the Bureau of Women MPs; and Hubert Julien-Laferrière (France) as the president of the Committee on Middle East Questions.

Two new members join the IPU’s Executive Committee, Ida Kamonji Nasserwa Sabangu (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Janine Alm Ericson (Sweden).

Suriname MP Asiskumar Gajadien who heads the IPU’s Committee on Democracy and Human Rights spoke at the session on how he got extremely ill arriving in

Bahrain and received the best medical care possible.

“The IPU thanks His Majesty King Hamad, the government and people of Bahrain for the hospitality, welcome, hard work, genuineness, kindness and input for a successful Assembly and the spirit of Manama will continue to live within us forever,” said IPU President Duarte Pacheco.

“There has to be actual action on the declaration and resolutions, it is not just talk but active legislative actions,” he added.

 

Source: https://www.gdnonline.com/Details/1206959/Vow-to-take-declaration-forward-through-action

 

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