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from issue no. 12 - 2005

DOSSIER. How the Interparliamentary Union is structured

A privileged forum for concerting action

The origins of the Interparliamentary Union go back to 1889 when, on the initiative of two parliamentarians, William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom) and Frédéric Passy (France), the first interparliamentary Conference was held in Paris, with the participation of delegates from nine countries: France, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, United States, Liberia.
Over time, the Interparliamentary Union has changed from a simple association of parliamentarians into a worldwide organization of parliaments. At present the IPU is an international organization that brings together the representatives of the parliaments of 143 sovereign states. It constitutes a privileged forum for parliamentary concerting of action, for the purpose of maintaining peace and cooperation between peoples and strengthening parliamentary institutions.
The Interparliamentary Union is made up of national groups, representing the respective parliaments. The national group is created by decision of the member parliament, «constituted in conformity with the laws of a sovereign State». And only one national group can be created in each parliament.
The current president of the Interparliamentary Union, elected by the assembly on 19 October 2005 by 230 votes out of 337 valid votes, is Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. His mandate will last three years.
The organs of the Interparliamentary Union are: the Assembly, the Directive Council, the Executive Committee, the Union of Women Parliamentarians and the Secretariat.
The principal organ of the Union consists of the Interparliamentary Assembly (art. 10-17 of the Statute). Two convocations are programmed each year, one in spring and one in autumn. About 700 parliamentarians take part in them, to examine international problems and formulate recommendations.
Parliamentarians designated by the respective national group take part in the Assembly: among them the presence of at least one woman is required, if the group is to be counted. The number of the parliamentarian delegates to the Assembly varies in relation to the population of the respective states.

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