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Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 1st January 1976, OXIO 260

Inter-Parliamentary Union [IPU]

Subject(s):
Constituent instruments of international organizations — International legal personality of international organizations — Membership of international organizations — Consensual arrangements other than treaties

Core Issues

1. The international legal personality of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and whether the IPU can be considered an international organization.

2. The nature of the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

3. The distinctive membership of the IPU.

This headnote pertains to: Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an act of an international organization. Jump to full text

Background

The first meeting of what was then called the Inter-Parliamentary Conference took place on 30 June 1889, bringing together eighty-three Members of Parliament (MPs) from France and the United Kingdom, and eleven parliamentarians from seven other states (IPU, Historical focus: 1888-89: F PASSY and W CREMER sign the decision to launch the First Inter-Parliamentary Conference). In 1892, the Inter-Parliamentary Bureau was established in Switzerland, adopting the current name of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in 1899 (IPU, ‘History’). On the earlier version of the IPU’s website, the history section began with the following comment on its evolution as an organization: ‘[t]he IPU has transformed itself from an association of individual parliamentarians into the international organization of the [p]arliaments of sovereign [s]tates’ (IPU, ‘Brief History’). This comment is curious as it begs the question of how exactly an association of private individuals can transform itself into an organization with international legal personality. The Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (‘Statues’), in not following the orthodox treaty-based approach in its constitution, are relevant to law of international organizations in terms of the conditions necessary to generate international legal personality.

Furthermore, the IPU is unusual in that its members are not states, but rather the parliaments of those states. This feature prompts an important ongoing discussion—it highlights a distinction between an intergovernmental organization and an international organization (broadly defined), and raises questions regarding whether inter-governmentality in the strict sense is essential to the nature of an international organization. In this way, the Statutes are evidence of innovative practice in this area. In not conforming to the generally expected rules, the constitution of the IPU revisits fundamental questions regarding the legal criteria for how and by whom an international organization may be properly created.

Summary

The first article of the Statutes states that the IPU is ‘the international organization of the [p]arliaments of sovereign [s]tates’. [Art 1] The IPU ‘shares the objectives of the United Nations’ (UN) and undertakes a number of activities to ‘work for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the solid establishment of representative institutions’. [Arts 1(3), 1(2)]

Structure

As stated in Article 8 of the Statutes, the organization is composed of the Assembly, Governing Council, Executive Committee, and Secretariat.

The Executive Committee is the IPU’s ‘administrative organ’. [Art 26] It is composed of the president, 15 Member Parliaments from across the different geopolitical groups, as well as the presidents of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. [Art 25] The president of the IPU is the head of the Execute Committee and is elected by the Governing Council for a non-renewable three-year term. [Art 19(1)]

The Governing Council holds meetings twice annually at which it ‘determines and guides the activities’ of the IPU and ‘oversees their implementation’. [Art 20(1)] It is responsible for membership, budgetary matters, and the mandates of working groups and committees. [Arts 4, 5, 21(a), 21(d)–(f), 21(h)–(j)] Each Member Parliament is represented by a delegation of three currently sitting MPs, granted that there is gender diversity in the delegation. [Art 18] Single-gender delegations are limited to two members (Rules of the Governing Council, Rule 1(2)). The Governing Council elects the Secretary-General for a renewable four-year term (Rules of the Secretariat of the Inter-Parliamentary Union: Procedure for Selecting the Secretary General of the IPU, at 83). [Art 21(l)] The Secretary-General is ‘responsible for the organization of the IPU Secretariat’ (Statutes and Rules, Rules of the Assembly, Rule 35(1)), whose functions are in turn outlined in Article 28 of the Statutes.

The IPU meets in Assembly twice yearly, to debate questions which fall within the purview of Article 1 of the Statutes and to make ‘recommendations expressing the views of the [o]rganization on these questions’. [Arts 9(1), 12] The Assembly was formally known as the IPU Conference. Under the Statutes, ‘[i]t is the duty of the [m]embers of the IPU to submit the resolutions of the IPU within their respective [p]arliament … to communicate them to the [g]overnment, to stimulate their implementation’. [Art 7]

Membership

At the date of writing, the IPU has 178 Member Parliaments (IPU Website). The Member Parliaments are organized into six geopolitical groups. [Art 27] The IPU also has twelve associate members, which include regional parliaments such as the Andean Parliament, European Parliament, and East African Legislative Assembly. [Art 3(5)] Interestingly, Article 3(5) of the Statutes stipulates that these associate members must be ‘[i]nternational parliamentary assemblies established under international law by [s]tates’, criteria that the IPU does not arguably itself fulfil. The IPU has granted permanent observer status to approximately seventy organizations that may participate in IPU assemblies. There is a list of these varied organizations on the IPU website, and the final page of the Statutes has a section dedicated to this topic, entitled ‘Practical Modalities of the Rights and Responsibilities of Observers at IPU Meetings’.

Analysis

The effect of an absence of a constituent treaty on the international legal personality of the IPU

The IPU was not constituted via a multilateral treaty. This demonstrates a number of possible outcomes: it may represent an exception to the rule regarding criteria in the law of international organizations; it may be argued this highlights that the IPU is not an international organization (an argument not favoured by the author, the IPU itself, or by Brownlie and Goodwin-Gill); or that multilateral treaties are not a strict requirement for the creation of international organizations, and instead other criteria may apply. As summarised in a 2010 report to the IPU Assembly, ‘[t]he IPU does not conform to traditional legal doctrine according to which the term “international organization” has come to be defined by reference to a particular method of creation. Under this formal approach, international organizations are necessarily based upon multilateral treaties and the law of treaties forms part of the law of international organizations’ (Results of the 122nd Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Report: An International Convention on the IPU (‘Report: An International Convention on the IPU’ or ‘Report’), 54).

In 1999, this critical legal issue was the subject of a Joint Opinion (Brownlie and Goodwin-Gill) commissioned by the IPU’s then-Secretary-General. The question to be resolved in the Joint Opinion was whether the IPU had international legal personality ‘within the area of its functional responsibilities, whether it ought to be considered as an international organization in international law’ and the legal implications therein (Joint Opinion, para 7). The opinion concluded that constitution by states through treaty was not determinative; rather, the critical fact was ‘the degree of recognition and acceptance of such entities manifested by [s]tates in their dealings with them’ (Joint Opinion, para 60).

The IPU did not seek to grant itself international legal personality in its Statutes. This is in contrast to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, the constituent document of which states ‘[t]he Assembly is an international, autonomous, inter-state, organization with its own international legal personality and legal capacity. It has been created by decision of the national parliaments of the countries of the Mediterranean basin’ (Article 1 Statutes of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean). Instead, the IPU, subsequent to its founding, gradually evolved to be recognised as an international organization. These developments principally took place after the latest version of the Statutes was adopted, the first iteration of which was in 1976. The recognition of the IPU as an international organization has manifested in cooperation agreements with other international organizations, and in agreements with host states. Further, the consent of states can be implied from the financial contributions made to the IPU. Members and associate members must make annual contributions to the expenses of the organization. [Art 5(1)] These contributions are calculated according to a scale determined by the Governing Council (Rule 5(2) Financial Regulations of the Inter-Parliamentary Union). If a member or associate member falls behind in its payments, it may lose its voting rights. [Art 5(2)] Thus, the constitution of the IPU as an international organization has been a story of implied rights and international juridical personality, rather than an explicit granting of them. However, while states and other more formally-constituted international actors have recognised the status of the IPU, the originator of its international legal personality itself is less clear.

The recognition of the IPU as an international organization has come relatively recently in its existence. The IPU had signed cooperation agreements with the UN in 1996, UNESCO and the Food and Agricultural Organization in 1997, and with the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in 1999. In 2003, the IPU was invited, in recognition of its ‘unique status’ as a ‘world organization of parliaments’ to participate in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in the capacity of an observer (UNGA Resolution 57/32 (2003), preamble). This is significant in that the UNGA confines the granting of observer status to intergovernmental organizations (UNGA Decision 49/426 (1994)). Moreover, ‘[f]rom the beginning, the [UN] seems to have relied very heavily on the existence of a formal intergovernmental agreement as the main criterion for a determination as to the intergovernmental character of an international organization’ (Letter to the Secretary-General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), para 4). Interestingly, the UNGA had previously made reference to the ‘the unique inter-[s]tate character’ of the IPU in a resolution on cooperation between the organizations (UNGA Resolution 55/19 (2001), preamble) (emphasis added). However, in an opinion from the UN Secretariat on the granting of observer status to the IPU, it was stated that, ‘[w]ith respect to IPU, in particular, it is important to note that it is not deemed to be an intergovernmental organization’ (Observer status in the General Assembly for the Inter-Parliamentary Union—Procedures for obtaining observer status with the United Nations for intergovernmental organizations— Question whether the Secretary-General may intervene in the process: Memorandum to the Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, at 364).

Furthermore, the IPU had previously enjoyed consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a non-governmental organization, for which it had applied in 1947 (Joint Opinion, para 46). For this status, ECOSOC had adopted the following broad definition: ‘any international organization which is not established by intergovernmental agreement’ (Joint Opinion, para 45). However, since being granted permanent observer status in the UNGA, the IPU is able to participate in deliberations of ECOSOC within the scope of their activities, as per Rule 79 of the ECOSOC Rules of Procedure (Rules of Procedure of the Economic and Social Council).

A similar change in the status accorded to the IPU took place within the International Labour Organization (ILO). The IPU had been attending the International Labour Conference as a non-governmental organization (NGO) observer since 1959 (Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards, Agreement between the International Labour Organization and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, para 6 (‘ILO–IPU Agreement’)). However, the ILO recognised that ‘as an association of parliaments the IPU has a special status’ (ILO–IPU Agreement, para 6). Thus, in 1975 the ILO Governing Body approved the IPU’s acceptance of the ILO Administrative Tribunal’s jurisdiction. As stated in the ILO–IPU Agreement ‘[t]his approval implied recognition of the IPU as the equivalent of an intergovernmental organi[z]ation for the purposes of the Statute of the [Administrative] Tribunal’ as, similar to gaining observer status in the UNGA, it was a process only open to intergovernmental organizations (ILO–IPU Agreement, para 6). Thus, despite being founded as an initiative by two MPs ‘as an association of individual parliamentarians’, the ILO was to be ‘recognized as an official international organization for the purposes of the Standing Orders of the Conference’ (ILO–IPU Agreement, para 7).

As outlined in the Joint Opinion, the IPU was granted the privileges and immunities appropriate for an international organization in the two states where the IPU has offices, Switzerland and the United States of America (Joint Opinion, para 5). The 1971 agreement with Switzerland, for example, recognised the ‘personality and legal capacity’ of the IPU ‘due to it by virtue of its status’, and guaranteed ‘the independence and freedom of action belonging to it as an international institution’ (Articles 1 and 2(1) Agreement between the Swiss Federal Council and the Inter-Parliamentary Union to settle the Juridical Status of the Organization in Switzerland (Paris)). Furthermore, the IPU was deemed a ‘public international organization’ for the purposes of United States legislation—the International Organizations Immunities Act (Federal Register: Executive Order 13097—Interparliamentary Union). However, the Statutes do not contain a provision relating to the organizational immunity or privileges.

In addition to this explicit articulation by states of the international legal personality of the IPU, states whose legislative bodies are IPU members also impliedly recognise the IPU as an international organization through continued financial contributions (Joint Opinion, para 13). Article 5(1) of the Statutes state the members and Associate Members are ‘required to make an annual contribution to the expenses of the [IPU], in accordance with a scale approved by the Governing Council’.

A distinction emerging between an international organization and an intergovernmental organization?

The members of the IPU are not states as such, but those states’ legislative bodies. The membership is open. As per the Statutes, ‘[e]very [p]arliament constituted in conformity with the laws of a sovereign [s]tate whose population it represents and on whose territory it functions may request affiliation to the [IPU]’. [Art 3(1)] However, until April 2001 this process was undertaken by national groups representing those parliaments, rather than the parliaments themselves. This is indicated by the second half of that same article: ‘[a] [n]ational [g]roup representing any such [p]arliament and which is already affiliated at the time of the approval of this [a]rticle may choose to remain a [m]ember of the IPU’. [Art 3(1)] As one commentator has stated, ‘[t]he recent change of membership from national groups in parliaments—in most cases de facto the whole parliament—to parliaments per se in 2001 was one of the means used by the IPU to finally get recognition of its international personality by governments’ (Kissling 22).

However, as stated in the Joint Opinion: ‘not all “international organizations”, that is, entities having the capacity to bear rights and duties and to act on the international plane, are necessarily “inter-governmental” in the strict sense’ (Joint Opinion, para 60). For example, the members of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) are official public police bodies, not states (Article 4 Constitution of the International Criminal Police Organization-INTERPOL (‘ICPO-INTERPOL Constitution’). Further, the Joint Opinion advised that the IPU was distinct from an NGO or private organization ‘in its membership of parliaments, the public, legislative organs of [s]tates, rather than of private or personal interests’ (Joint Opinion, para 72). Thus, ‘[i]t may therefore be argued that if there is a need for and a will by [p]arliaments to enter into international co-operation, they can do it with that part of the [s]tate’s authority they embody and do not need the explicit or implicit consent of the [e]xecutive’ (Joint Opinion, para 72).

Finally, despite similarities in their process of transformation from private associations to international organizations, there remain some differences between INTERPOL and the IPU. For example, the IPU does not have an express recognition of its capacity to enter into treaties with other international organizations, which is found in Article 41 of the ICPO-INTERPOL Constitution. Furthermore, in 2000, INTERPOL acceded to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Between States and International Organizations or Between International Organizations (Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; ICPO-INTERPOL General Assembly RES/7). Nor has the IPU sought to submit its Statutes for registration with the UN in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations, as INTERPOL did in 2011 in order to ‘clarify the nature’ of its constitution as an international agreement (ICPO-INTERPOL General Assembly RES-15).

Impact

The unconventional constitution of the IPU is significant in that it demonstrates the relevant factors which may indicate tacit recognition of international legal personality, as an alternative to explicit granting of such status through an international constituent treaty. Despite not being constituted through an international treaty or having a membership of states, the IPU has been recognised as having the ‘standing, authority and capacity to act on the international plane, within the area of its functional responsibilities, as the international organization of parliaments’ (Joint Opinion, para 7).

The IPU is not the only example of this informal process of tacit recognition. The Joint Opinion makes reference to the World Tourist Organization, INTERPOL, and the Nordic Council as further evidence that ‘certain exceptional measures also exist, such as non-[s]tate originating agreements or collaboration followed by treaty or practice sufficient to constitute “recognition” as international organizations’ (Joint Opinion, para 1).

In 2010, a report submitted to the IPU Assembly proposed to resolve the ‘ambivalent situation’ of the IPU’s status, ‘by inviting [s]tates to conclude an international convention that has the effect of conferring the formal legal status of an international organization upon the IPU’ (Report: An International Convention on the IPU, 54). The Report cited a number of practical issues stemming from the IPU’s unorthodox creation, including difficulties issuing visas to delegates attending IPU meetings, ensuring tax exemptions, or guaranteeing immunities for officials traveling for business outside Switzerland (Report: An International Convention on the IPU, 54). The Report also stated that a conclusion of a formal, inter-state convention would emulate ‘the practice of other major organizations created at the same time which have since “re-created” themselves’ (Report: An International Convention on the IPU, 54). The IPU Governing Council took note of the Report and summarised its intention as ‘securing a clear expression of [s]tates’ commitment to work together in the IPU … whereby [s]tates would vest their representation in the IPU in their national parliament, and therefore not alter its parliamentary nature’ (Results of the 122nd Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 186th Session of the Governing Council, ‘Consolidation of the Reform of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 11). However, this issue appears to have been put to one side, at least for the time being. In the 187th session of the Governing Council, it was noted that ‘the proposal to base the IPU on an international convention would require further in-depth study and should be deferred to a later stage’ (Results of the 123rd Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 187th Session of the Governing Council, ‘Consolidation of the Reform of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 11).

The Joint Opinion rightly characterized the IPU as an ‘international organization sui generis’ (Joint Opinion, Statement, 1) and that the Statutes ‘play an equivalent constitutional role’ to a treaty (Joint Opinion, para 11). The Statutes are thus significant as further evidence that ‘[a] non-governmental organization may thus change its status to intergovernmental without a change to the non-treaty form of its statute’ (Letter to the Secretary-General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), para 4). The legal justification for this was concisely put in the Joint Opinion: ‘a treaty base is not a sine qua non to international legal personality, in regard to which the primary test is functional’ (Joint Opinion, footnote 13).

Further analysis of Relevant Materials

Materials Cited

Reporter(s): Eve Bain

Source text

Original Source PDF

I.  Nature, Purpose and Composition

Article 1

1.  The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the international organization of the Parliaments of sovereign States.

2.  As the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue since 1889, the Inter-Parliamentary Union shall work for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the solid establishment of representative institutions. To that end, it shall:

  1. (a)  Foster contacts, coordination and the exchange of experience among Parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries;

  2. (b)  Consider questions of international interest and express its views on such issues with the aim of bringing about action by Parliaments and their members;

  3. (c)  Contribute to the defence and promotion of human rights, which are universal in scope and respect for which is an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development;

  4. (d)  Contribute to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.

3.  The IPU, which shares the objectives of the United Nations, supports its efforts and works in close cooperation with it. It also cooperates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals.

Article 2

The Headquarters of the Inter-Parliamentary Union shall be at Geneva.

Article 3

1.  Every Parliament constituted in conformity with the laws of a sovereign State whose population it represents and on whose territory it functions may request affiliation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. A National Group representing any such Parliament and which is already affiliated at the time of the approval of this Article2 may choose to remain a Member of the IPU.

2.  Any Parliament constituted in conformity with the basic law of a territorial entity whose aspirations and entitlement to statehood are recognized by the United Nations, and which enjoys the status of Permanent Observer to the United Nations with substantial additional rights and privileges, may also become a Member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

3.  In a federal State, only the federal Parliament may make a request to become a Member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

4.  Every Member of the IPU shall adhere to the principles of the IPU and comply with its Statutes.

5.  International parliamentary assemblies established under international law by States which are represented in the IPU may, upon their request and after consultation with the relevant Members of the IPU, be admitted by the Governing Council as Associate Members.

Article 4

1.  The decision to admit or readmit a Parliament shall be taken by the Governing Council, to which requests for affiliation or reaffiliation are communicated by the Secretary General. The Governing Council shall take its decision based on the advice of the Executive Committee, which shall consider whether the conditions stipulated in Article 3 are fulfilled, and report thereon.

2.  When a Member of the IPU has ceased to function as such, the Executive Committee shall consider the situation and express an opinion to the Governing Council. The Governing Council shall take a decision on the suspension of the affiliation of that Member to the IPU.

Article 5

1.  Each Member and Associate Member of the IPU shall make an annual contribution to the expenses of the IPU in accordance with a scale approved by the Governing Council (cf. Financial Regs., Rule 5).

2.  Any Member of the IPU which is in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no votes in the statutory bodies of the Inter-Parliamentary Union if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years. The Governing Council may, nevertheless, permit such a Member to vote if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the Member of the IPU. Prior to examining this question, the Governing Council may receive a written explanation from the Member concerned. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 10.2 of the Statutes, such a Member shall not be represented by more than two delegates at meetings convened by the IPU. An Associate Member which is in arrears of the payment of its financial contributions in an amount that equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years, shall not be represented by more than one delegate at meetings convened by the IPU.

3.  When a Member or Associate Member of the IPU is three years in arrears in the payment of its contributions to the IPU, the Executive Committee shall consider the situation and express an opinion to the Governing Council. The Governing Council shall take a decision on the suspension of the affiliation of that Member or Associate Member to the IPU.

Article 6

1.  All Members or Associate Members of the IPU shall have their own rules governing their participation in the IPU’s work. They shall make all structural, administrative and financial provisions required to ensure their effective representation in the IPU, the implementation of the decisions taken and to maintain relations with the IPU Secretariat, to which they shall submit an annual report of their activities, including the names of their officers and the list or the total number of their members.

2.  It is the sovereign right of each Member of the IPU to decide on the manner in which it organizes its participation in the IPU.

Article 7

It is the duty of the Members of the IPU to submit the resolutions of the IPU within their respective Parliament, in the most appropriate form; to communicate them to the Government; to stimulate their implementation and to inform the IPU Secretariat, as often and fully as possible, particularly in its annual reports, of the steps taken and the results obtained (cf. Assembly, Rule 39.2). To this end, all heads of delegations to IPU Assemblies should submit in accordance with national laws a report to their national parliaments with a copy to the IPU Secretary General as soon as possible following the closure of the Assembly.

II.  Organs

Article 8

The organs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union are: the Assembly, the Governing Council, the Executive Committee and the Secretariat.

III.  The Assembly

Article 9

1.  The Inter-Parliamentary Union shall meet in Assembly twice a year.

2.  The place and date of each session shall be determined by the Governing Council (cf. Assembly, Rule 4.2).

3.  In exceptional circumstances, the Governing Council may decide to change the place and date of the Assembly or not to hold it. In an emergency, the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union may take such a decision with the consent of the Executive Committee.

Article 10

1.  The Assembly shall be composed of parliamentarians designated as delegates by the Members of the IPU. Members shall include men and women parliamentarians in their delegation and shall strive to ensure their equal representation.

2.  The number of members of Parliament appointed as delegates to the Assembly by a Member of the IPU shall in no case exceed eight in respect of Parliaments of countries with a population of less than 100 million inhabitants, or 10 in respect of Parliaments of countries with a population of 100 million inhabitants or more.

3.  Any delegation that for three consecutive sessions of the Assembly is composed exclusively of parliamentarians of the same sex shall automatically be reduced by one person.

Article 11

1.  The Assembly shall be opened by the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union or, in his/her absence, by the Vice-President of the Executive Committee designated in conformity with Rule 5.2 of the Rules of the Executive Committee.

2.  The Assembly shall choose its President, Vice-Presidents and Tellers.

3.  The number of Vice-Presidents shall be equal to that of the Members of the IPU represented at the Assembly.

Article 12

The Assembly debates issues which, under the provisions of Article 1 of the Statutes, fall within the scope of the IPU, and makes recommendations expressing the views of the Organization on these questions.

Article 13

1.  The Assembly is assisted in its work by Standing Committees, whose number and terms of reference are determined by the Governing Council (cf. Art. 21 (e)).

2.  Standing Committees shall normally prepare reports and/or draft resolutions for the Assembly and perform other functions as set out in the Rules (cf. Standing Committees, Rule 6.5).

3.  Standing Committees may also be instructed by the Governing Council to study an item included in the latter's agenda and make a report to that organ.

Article 14

1.  The Assembly shall establish the agenda for its subsequent session (cf. Assembly Rule 10).

2.  The Assembly may include one emergency item in its agenda (cf. Assembly Rule 11).

Article 15

1.  Only delegates present in person shall have the right to vote.

2.  The number of votes to which each Member of the IPU is entitled shall be calculated on the following basis:

  1. (a)  Each Member of the IPU shall have a minimum of 10 votes;

  2. (b)  Each Member of the IPU shall have the following additional number of votes in relation to the population of its country:

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    1

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    30

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  3. (c)  Any delegation that for three consecutive sessions is composed exclusively of parliamentarians of the same sex shall have a minimum of eight votes (instead of the 10 for mixed delegations) at the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. For delegations entitled to a certain number of additional votes, the overall calculation will be made on the basis of eight votes instead of 10.

3.  A delegation may split its votes so as to express the diverse views of its members. No single delegate may record more than 10 votes.

Article 16

1.  Voting at the Assembly shall be conducted by roll call, except when the decision before the Assembly meets with no opposition.

2.  For the election of officers, voting shall be held by secret ballot if at least 20 delegates so request.

IV.  Governing Council

Article 17

1.  The Governing Council shall normally hold two sessions a year (cf. Governing Council, Rule 5).

2.  The Governing Council shall be convened in extraordinary session by the President if the latter or the Executive Committee deems this necessary, or a quarter of the Governing Council's members so request.

Article 18

1.  The Governing Council shall be composed of three representatives from each Member of the IPU (cf. Governing Council, Rule 1.2). The term of office of a member of the Governing Council shall last from one Assembly to the next.

2.  All the members of the Governing Council must be sitting members of Parliament.

3.  In case of the death or resignation of a representative, or a representative's inability to attend, the IPU Member concerned shall appoint a substitute.

Article 19

1.  The Governing Council shall elect the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a period of three years (cf. Governing Council, Rules 6, 7 and 8). The President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is the political head of the Organization and shall be ex officio President of the Governing Council.

2.  The retiring President shall not be eligible for re-election for three years and shall be replaced by a person belonging to another Parliament. An endeavour will be made to ensure a regular rotation between the different geopolitical groups.

3.  The election shall take place during the second Assembly of the year. If, for exceptional reasons, the Assembly cannot be convened, the Governing Council may nevertheless hold the election.

4.  In case of the resignation, loss of parliamentary mandate or death of the President, the functions of the President shall be exercised by the Vice-President of the Executive Committee appointed by the latter, until such time as the Governing Council elects a new President. The same provision shall apply in the case of the suspension of the affiliation of the Member of the IPU to which the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union belongs.

5.  The President shall also be assisted in his/her work between the statutory sessions by a group of six vice-presidents representing each of the geopolitical groups and appointed from among the members of the Executive Committee for a renewable term of one year.

Article 20

1.  The Governing Council determines and guides the activities of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and oversees their implementation in conformity with the purposes defined in the Statutes.

2.  The Governing Council shall adopt its agenda. A provisional agenda shall be established by the Executive Committee (cf. Governing Council, Rule 12.2). Any member of the Governing Council may submit supplementary proposals to this provisional agenda (cf. Governing Council, Rule 13).

Article 21

The Governing Council shall perform, in particular, the following functions:

  1. (a)  Decide on the admission and readmission of Members of the IPU, as well as on the suspension of their affiliation, in accordance with Article 4 of the Statutes;

  2. (b)  Decide on the place and date of the Assembly (cf. Art. 9.2 and Assembly, Rule 4.2);

  3. (c)  Propose the President of the Assembly;

  4. (d)  Decide on the holding of all other inter-parliamentary meetings by the IPU, including the creation of ad hoc committees to study specific problems; determine the modalities thereof and express its opinion on their conclusions;

  5. (e)  Set the number and terms of reference of the Standing Committees of the Assembly (cf. Art. 13.1);

  6. (f)  Set up ad hoc or special committees and working groups while ensuring geopolitical, geographical (regional and sub-regional) and gender balance in their composition;

  7. (g)  Determine the categories of observers at IPU meetings and their rights and responsibilities and decide which international organizations and other bodies shall have observer status at the IPU’s meetings on a regular basis (cf. Assembly, Rule 2; Governing Council, Rule 4; Standing Committees, Rule 3.1), in addition to inviting on an occasional basis observers that may contribute to the study of a particular item on the Assembly agenda;

  8. (h)  Adopt annually the work programme and budget of the IPU and establish the scale of contributions (cf. Financial Regs., Rules 3.1 and 5.2);

  9. (i)  Approve, each year, the accounts for the preceding fiscal year on the recommendation of two Auditors, whom it shall appoint from among its members (cf. Governing Council, Rule 41; Financial Regs., Rule 13.3; Secretariat, Rule 12);

  10. (j)  Authorize the acceptance of donations and legacies (cf. Financial Regs., Rule 7.1);

  11. (k)  Elect the members of the Executive Committee (cf. Governing Council, Rules 37, 38 and 39);

  12. (l)  Appoint the Secretary General of the IPU (cf. Art. 28.1; Secretariat, Rule 3.1);

  13. (m)  Adopt its own Rules and express its opinion on proposals to amend the Statutes (cf. Governing Council, Rule 45.1).

Article 22

The Forum of Women Parliamentarians shall meet on the occasion of both annual sessions of the Assembly and shall report on its work to the Governing Council. This Forum shall establish its own Rules, which shall be approved by the Governing Council. The Forum is assisted by a Bureau, whose Rules it shall approve. The Bureau will meet during both annual sessions of the Assembly.

Article 23

The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians shall meet on the occasion of both annual sessions of the Assembly and may hold additional sessions and organize missions as necessary. The Committee shall report on its work to the Governing Council. The Committee shall establish its own Rules, which shall be approved by the Governing Council.

Article 24

The Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU shall meet on the occasion of both annual sessions of the Assembly and shall report on its work to the Governing Council. The Forum shall establish its own Rules, which shall be approved by the Governing Council.

V.  Executive Committee

Article 25

1.  The Executive Committee shall be composed of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 15 elected members belonging to different Parliaments, the President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians and the President of the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians.

2.  The President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union shall be ex officio President of the Executive Committee. Fifteen members shall be elected by the Governing Council; not less than 12 shall be elected from among the members of the Governing Council to which they shall continue to belong during their mandate. Each sex shall be represented by no less than one third of the elected members.

3.  In elections to the Executive Committee, consideration shall be given to the contribution made to the work of the IPU by the candidate and the Member of the IPU concerned. Only parliamentarians from States where women have both the right to vote and the right to stand for election are eligible to sit on the Executive Committee.

4.  The 15 elected seats will be assigned to the geopolitical groups by applying the St. Laguë system to the total number of votes their members are entitled to cast in the Assembly. Should there be a change in the number of seats on the Executive Committee to which a geopolitical group is entitled, each seat concerned shall only be reassigned once the term of the existing holder of the seat has expired.

5.  The term of office of the elected members of the Executive Committee shall be four years. At least two members shall retire in rotation each year. A retiring member shall not be eligible for re-election for two years and shall be replaced by a member belonging to another Parliament. The President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians shall serve a two-year term, which can be renewed once (cf. Forum of Women Parliamentarians, Rule 33.4). The President of the Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians shall serve a two-year term, which cannot be renewed (cf. Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, Rule 5.7).

6.  If a member of the Executive Committee dies, resigns or ceases to be a parliamentarian, the Member of the IPU concerned shall appoint a substitute to serve until the next session of the Governing Council, when an election shall be held. If the newly elected member is from a different Parliament than the outgoing member, he/she will serve a full term. Otherwise, the new member shall complete the term of office of his/her predecessor. If the President of the Bureau of Women Parliamentarians dies, resigns or ceases to be a parliamentarian, the First Vice-President or Second Vice-President, as the case may be, will complete the term of office of the predecessor. The youngest member present of the Board of the Forum of the Young Parliamentarians shall replace the President of the Board in his/her absence. (cf. Board of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, Rule 5.9).

7.  If the President of the Bureau is already a member of the Executive Committee or belongs to the same Parliament as one of the 15 members, she shall be replaced by the First Vice-President of the Bureau, or the Second Vice-President should the First Vice-President be a member of the Executive Committee or belong to the same Parliament as one of the 15 members.

8.  If a member of the Executive Committee is elected President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Governing Council shall elect a member to fill the vacant seat. In such a case, the question shall be included automatically in the agenda of the Governing Council. The term of office of the new member shall be four years.

9.  Members of the Executive Committee shall not simultaneously hold office as Bureau members of Standing Committees.

Article 26

1.  The Executive Committee shall be the administrative organ of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

2.  The Executive Committee shall perform the following functions:

  1. (a)  Consider, whenever a Parliament makes a request for affiliation or reaffiliation to the Union, whether the conditions mentioned in Article 3 of the Statutes are fulfilled, and to inform the Governing Council of its conclusions (cf. Art. 4);

  2. (b)  Summon the Governing Council, in case of emergency (cf. Art. 17.2);

  3. (c)  Set the date and place of the Governing Council sessions and establish the provisional agenda;

  4. (d)  Express an opinion on the insertion of supplementary items in the agenda of the Governing Council;

  5. (e)  Propose to the Governing Council the annual work programme and budget of the IPU (cf. Financial Regs., Rule 3.4);

  6. (f)  Inform the Governing Council at its sessions about the activities of the Executive Committee through a report by the President;

  7. (g)  Oversee the administration of the IPU Secretariat as well as its activities in the execution of the decisions taken by the Assembly or by the Governing Council and receive, for this purpose, all reports and necessary information;

  8. (h)  Examine candidatures for the post of Secretary General with the aim of submitting a proposal to the Governing Council and establish the terms of office of the Secretary General appointed by the Governing Council;

  9. (i)  Request the Governing Council to grant supplementary appropriations should the budget appropriations approved by the Governing Council appear to be insufficient to cover the expenditure required for the execution of the programme and the administration of the IPU; in urgent cases, grant these appropriations provided that it shall inform the Governing Council of such action at the latter's next session;

  10. (j)  Designate an External Auditor entrusted with auditing the accounts of the IPU (cf. Financial Regs., Rule 13.1);

  11. (k)  Determine the scales of the salaries and allowances of staff members of the IPU Secretariat (cf. Staff Regs., Section IV);

  12. (l)  Adopt its own Rules;

  13. (m)  Carry out all the functions which the Governing Council delegates to it in accordance with the Statutes and Rules.

VI.  Geopolitical Groups

Article 27

1.  The Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union may form geopolitical groups3. Each group shall decide on the working methods that best suit its participation in the activities of the Organization. It shall inform the IPU Secretariat of its composition, the names of its officers, and its rules of procedure.

2.  The Members that belong to more than one geopolitical group shall inform the Secretary General which geopolitical group they represent for the purposes of submitting candidatures for positions within the IPU.

3.  The Executive Committee may invite the Chairs of the geopolitical groups to participate in its discussions in an advisory capacity.

VII.  Ipu Secretariat

Article 28

1.  The IPU Secretariat comprises the totality of the staff of the Organization under the direction of the Secretary General of the IPU (cf. Secretariat, Rule 2), who shall be appointed by the Governing Council (cf. Art. 21 (l)).

2.  The Secretariat shall perform the following functions:

  1. (a)  Be the permanent Headquarters of the IPU;

  2. (b)  Keep records on the Members of the IPU and endeavour to foster new requests for affiliation;

  3. (c)  Support and stimulate the activities of the Members of the IPU and contribute, on the technical level, towards the harmonization of these activities;

  4. (d)  Prepare the questions to be considered at inter-parliamentary meetings and distribute the necessary documents in due time;

  5. (e)  To provide for the execution of the decisions of the Governing Council and of the Assembly;

  6. (f)  Prepare proposals for a draft work programme and budget for the consideration of the Executive Committee (cf. Financial Regs., Rule 3.2, 3.3 and 3.7);

  7. (g)  Collect and disseminate information concerning the structure and functioning of representative institutions;

  8. (h)  Maintain relations between the IPU and other international organizations and, in general, its representation at international conferences;

  9. (i)  Maintain the archives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

VIII.  Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments

Article 29

1.  The Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP) shall be a consultative body of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

2.  The activities of the ASGP and those of the organs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union competent to study parliamentary institutions are complementary. They shall be coordinated by means of consultations and close collaboration at the stages of preparation and implementation of projects.

3.  The ASGP shall be administered autonomously. The IPU shall make an annual contribution to the budget of the ASGP. The Rules which the ASGP establishes shall be approved by the Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

IX.  Amendments to the Statutes

Article 30

1.  Any proposal to amend the Statutes shall be submitted in writing to the IPU Secretariat at least three months before the meeting of the Assembly. The IPU Secretariat will immediately communicate all such proposals to the Members of the IPU. The consideration of such proposed amendments shall be automatically placed on the agenda of the Assembly.

2.  Any sub-amendments shall be submitted in writing to the IPU Secretariat at least six weeks before the meeting of the Assembly. The Secretariat will immediately communicate all such sub-amendments to the Members of the IPU.

3.  After hearing the opinion of the Governing Council, expressed through a simple majority vote, the Assembly shall decide on such proposals by a two-thirds majority vote.

Footnotes:

April 2001.

At the time of approval of this Article, the geopolitical groups active in the IPU were the African Group, the Arab Group, the Asia-Pacific Group, the Eurasia Group, the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Twelve Plus Group.