The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is an organisation of democratically elected parliaments – the largest forum of parliamentarians representing various political systems that provides an opportunity to follow, evaluate, and influence the global political course. The IPU is the oldest parliamentary organisation, established in 1889.
The IPU comprises representatives of 179 national parliaments. The diverse member states are coordinated by six regional groups: the African Group (52 States), Arab Group (21 States), Asia-Pacific Group (36 States), Eurasia Group (9 States), Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (25 States), and “Twelve+” (47 States, including Latvia)
Latvia is represented in the IPU by six Members of the Latvian Parliament
The IPU aims to strengthen democracy and peace worldwide, promote sustainable development, and support collaboration between nations and cultures by means of political dialogue.
The IPU encourages the parliaments of its member states to uphold multilateralism, democracy, and human rights in increasingly effective, modern and resilient ways, to increase representation, compliance with the principle of gender equality, to empower the youths, and to become more open, accountable and effective.
To achieve these goals, the IPU draws on the best practices of the member states, setting common standards, guidelines and principles for the support to parliaments. The IPU helps parliaments use the opportunities offered by modern technologies through involvement in the Centre for Innovation in Parliament, which compiles examples of good practice in digital innovation and tools, such as social media.
The work of the IPU is based on the following pillars:
- Strong parliaments: strengthening representative democracy, setting standards, and involvement in the development of increasingly representative and effective legislative institutions, establishing contacts, cooperation, and exchange of experience between parliaments and parliamentarians worldwide.
- Human rights: monitoring respect for human rights, especially in conflict and post-conflict areas, also monitoring respect for the rights of parliamentarians worldwide. The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has been created and is actively working on the latter task.
- Parliamentary dialogue: today, the IPU continues to provide a platform for parliamentary diplomacy, dialogue and networking. The IPU brings the global parliamentary community together to discuss issues, exchange best practices, and identify avenues for future action. Hundreds of bilateral meetings are held at the bi-annual IPU Assemblies to facilitate conflict resolution, reconciliation, and building mutual understanding.
- Sustainable development: promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development goals.
- Gender equality and women in politics: promoting compliance with the principle of gender equality, especially by increasing women’s representation in politics. The Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and the Forum of Women Parliamentarians have been created and actively work on this task.
- Peacebuilding: conflict resolution through dialogue, with a particular focus on terrorism, cyber threats, weapons of mass destruction, and disarmament.
- Youth empowerment: education, science, culture, participation of young people in politics and decision-making processes. The Forum of Young Parliamentarians has been created and actively works on the task.
- Global governance: overcoming the democratic deficit in international relations and ensuring that international commitments are translated into national realities.
The IPU has four Standing Committees:
- the Committee on Peace and International Security;
- the Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade;
- the Committee on Democracy and Human Rights;
- the Committee on United Nations Affairs.
During IPU Assemblies, parliamentarians develop and adopt resolutions on topical sustainable development issues, democracy standards, and respond to emergencies worldwide.