St. Petersburg Declaration on Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue

Inter-Parliamentary Union – Governance, Accountability, Cultural Pluralism, Dialogue

St. Petersburg Declaration on Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue
Endorsed by the 137th IPU Assembly, St. Petersburg, 18 October 2017 [3.pages]
Parliamentarians from 155 countries have committed to pursuing cultural pluralism and peace through interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue, calling for transparency, accountability and respect for human rights and the rule of law to serve as the basis for building sustainable and peaceful diversity.
As parliamentarians, we commit to working towards cultural pluralism and peace through interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue by:
…Preventing human rights violations relating to culture and religion:
– Allocate sufficient resources to conduct awareness-raising activities on cultural and religious issues among law enforcement officers so as to strengthen their ability to identify and investigate hate crimes, in line with international standards and protocols;
– Build the capacity of outreach workers and mediators in order to create peaceful and trusting environments at the local and regional levels;
– Ensure that the legislative process is transparent, and that parliamentary records are made available and accessible so that religious and ethnic minorities can understand and follow the activity of MPs and hold them accountable for their actions;
– Design protection measures for all religious and ethnic minorities within the national territory, including non-citizens, migrants and newly arrived minorities.

Building social dialogue for multicultural and inclusive societies:
– Exercise effective budgetary oversight so as to prevent the funding of projects and organizations that promote hate and intolerance, openly combat hate speech in public discourse and online platforms, and support projects with a greater balance in terms of gender, culture and religion, particularly at local and regional levels, including through mixed housing areas, collective events and multicultural media;
– Collaborate with scientists on cultural and religious matters and work in partnership with local religious leaders to assess social challenges, such as the struggle against fundamentalism, and ensure that religious and cultural interpretations respect the human rights of all people, in particular women, young people and ethnic and religious minorities;
– Take concrete action to eliminate structural or systemic discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, including by implementing processes for the collection and analysis of data disaggregated by gender, age, language, ethnicity, religion, and other minority status…


Global Parliamentary Report 2017—Parliamentary oversight: Parliament’s power to hold government to account
Inter-Parliamentary Union and United Nations Development Programme
2017 : 117 pages
The second Global Parliamentary Report shines the spotlight on one of parliament’s critical functions: its power to hold governments accountable for their actions and decisions. The report, co-published with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is based on the contributions of 150 national parliaments. As a practical and useful tool for Members of Parliament (MPs) and other interested communities, it has examples of how parliaments and MPs carry out oversight in their countries, as well as tips for MPs on how to approach oversight.
The Executive Summary is available in four languages.

Conclusion, key findings and recommendations
[Excerpt, p.99]
Rigorous, constructive and evidence-based oversight improves government in many ways. It seeks to ensure that government functions well and protects the rights and wellbeing of all people. It monitors that laws are implemented effectively and that their impact on people’s lives is closely monitored, and provides a means to identify gaps or problems in legislation that need to be addressed. It ensures that money is well spent and that government programmes are valuated
against results. Corrupt practices become more difficult to hide in the presence of effective systems of oversight.

Oversight makes democracy stronger by providing a channel for people to engage in the management of public affairs on a daily basis between periodic elections. It brings information
into the public domain, ensuring that government operates under public control. Oversight is a key part of a system of checks and balances designed to limit abuses of government power. It provides political mechanisms to sanction the government or ministers in the case of shortcomings.

Drawing on the submissions from parliaments, interviews with MPs and thematic discussions with MPs and senior parliamentary staff, it is possible to affirm certain core principles of parliamentary oversight:

Core principles of parliamentary oversight
Oversight should:
:: be a rigorous, constructive and evidence-based process designed to promote people’s well-being, monitor the achievement of development goals and priorities, and improve governance;
:: cover all areas of government, at all times;
:: be the shared responsibility of all parliamentarians.

Parliament should:
:: have a strong mandate for oversight set out clearly in the constitution, laws and parliamentary rules of procedure;
:: have full and timely access to information required for oversight;
:: ensure that opposition and minority parties are able to participate fully in oversight;
:: provide committees with the mandate and means to carry out effective oversight;
:: develop its capacity for oversight to match its formal powers;
:: mainstream a gender perspective into all oversight activities and ensure women are able to undertake oversight across all areas of policy and legislation;
:: be willing to use the powers available to it to hold government to account for meeting its obligations under existing commitments, laws, and rules.

Yet oversight is often difficult in practice. There are many common challenges, regardless of a country’s political system or level of economic, social and political development.

Research for this report shows that in most countries rules and systems for oversight exist, but oversight may not be prioritized fully by parliament, MPs or the public. The following sections capture the key findings from the report, and set out recommendations for a renewed effort to strengthen parliamentary oversight…