Equipping Parliamentarians for Peace Building and Conflict Prevention

The 148th IPU Assembly was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 23-27 March 2024. Hundreds of parliamentarians from around the world attended the Assembly to address the theme: “Parliamentary Diplomacy: Building Bridges For Peace and Understanding.”

On Monday, 25th March, members of the Human Security For All (HS4A) campaign and the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) hosted a discussion around the theme: “Human Security: Equipping Parliamentarians for Peace Building and Conflict Prevention.”

With 56 countries experiencing armed conflict in 2023 – according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – the IPU Assembly will provide a much-needed space for parliamentary dialogue and diplomacy at the global, regional and bilateral levels, as a complement to the United Nations and other multilateral forums.

The Assembly’s final declaration, “Geneva Declaration: Parliamentary diplomacy: Building bridges for peace and understanding,” endorsed by the Assembly on 27 March 2024, acknowledges human security as an important part of parliamentary diplomacy:

“We should therefore increase our focus on human security, which encompasses citizens’ protection by prioritizing essential needs such as food, health care and environmental security, and on guaranteeing equal rights for all, as the main path to fostering both peace and development.”

See final the final declaration (paragraph 10) here

Today’s rapidly evolving global landscape is marked by insecurity rooted in crises such as violent conflicts, natural disasters, climate change, pandemics, and economic downturns. There is an urgent need to shift approaches to foster conflict prevention, peace, stability, and sustainable development. As the UN’s human security approach will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary, it has become increasingly clear that a people centred framework that is proactive, empowering and preventive is needed to address the complex challenges that societies face.

A speech at this event, given by Irish MP Denis Naughten, highlights the impression that human security has made on some parliamentarians:

“The Human Security approach has been integrated in the work of the IPU since 2022 with the adoption of the resolution “Rethinking and reframing the approach to peace processes with a view to fostering lasting peace” during the 144th IPU Assembly in Indonesia. Last Monday I participated, on behalf of the working group on science and technology, in an event organized by the IPU Secretariat in the context of their work on Peace and Security, in partnership with the World Academy of Art and Science on Human Security. Not only does Human Security provides a sense of empowerment to fulfil the needs of the citizens, it also provides a bridge to assist Parliamentarians, building upon science and innovation to help deliver on the aspirations of the people. It is my hope that WE, as representatives of the people, can work together to help achieve this synergy in practice.”

The meeting, organized jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and WAAS, introduced Parliamentarians to the concept of Human Security and presented a series of upcoming courses and consultations. The event placed particular emphasis on sharing ideas and perspectives on the current state of affairs regarding parliamentary involvement in conflict prevention, peace and security and the need to prioritize the human dimension. Human Security could become an integral perspective of parliamentary decision-making, to do so, and Parliamentarians can champion this approach in their work, in their constituencies, and in the chambers of Parliament.

Some of the questions asked and debated, included:

  • How do you perceive the concept of ‘human security’ as distinct from traditional notions of national security, especially in the context of the diverse challenges faced by your constituents?
  • Can you identify examples from your constituency where different threats like climate change, economic instability, and health crises have intersected?
  • What are the limitations of current parliamentary strategies in addressing complex security threats, and how might integrating a human security approach overcome these limitations?
  • What long-term changes do you envision in your parliamentary work if human security was adopted as a guiding principle, and how could the Parliamentarians contribute to this shift?

The meeting hopes to enhance the understanding of the human security approach and its relevance in addressing complex and interlinked security threats as well as Increased awareness of the eight dimensions of human security and the importance of their interconnectedness.

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