30 June: International Day of Parliamentarism
The International Day of Parliamentarism is observed every year on June 30 across the globe with an aim to recognise role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels. The year 2018 marks first celebration of International Day of Parliamentarism. The day celebrates parliaments, as the cornerstone of democracy and as institutions designed to improve the lives of the people they represent. It is also provides opportunity for parliaments to take stock, identify challenges, and ways to address them effectively.
Facts and Figures
Parliamentary system of government falls into two categories: bicameral (having two chambers of parliament) and unicameral (having only one chamber). Out of 193 member countries of the United Nations, 79 are having bicameral legislatures and 114 are having unicameral legislatures. These total 272 chambers of parliament comprise over 46000 members of parliament. The parliaments represent voice of people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments to account. The oldest parliament is Althingi, the Icelandic Parliament founded in 930.
The International Day of Parliamentarism was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by adopting resolution A/RES/72/278 in May 2018 to recognise role of parliaments in national plans and strategies. The chosen date i.e. June 30, coincides with day in 1889, close to 130 years ago, that Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)—the global organization of parliaments was founded. The resolution adopted by UNGA called on UN and its member states to work more closely with parliaments as well as IPU on issues relating to human rights, gender equality, health and peace and youth empowerment.
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
IPU is global inter-parliamentary institution. It was established in 1889 and was the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Its initial objective was arbitration of conflicts. It played important role setting up Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Over time, its mission has evolved towards promotion of democracy and inter-parliamentary dialogue. It has worked for establishment of institutions at inter-governmental level, including UN. Initially, IPU was for individual parliamentarians, but has since transformed into international organization of parliaments of sovereign states. The national parliaments of 178 countries are its members and 12 regional parliamentary assemblies are its associate members. The IPU has permanent observer status at UNGA.