Geneva, Switzerland. On March 24, 2018, at the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) assumed the chairmanship of the IPU’s Asia-Pacific Group (APG). This geopolitical group represents two thirds of the world's population, including countries as diverse and populous as China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Iran, in addition to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The APG is one of six geopolitical groups in the IPU, and is comprised of 34 national parliaments.
Speaker Wesley W. Simina presided over the APG meeting at which major issues of policy were discussed, including the possibility of changes to the Statutes and Rules of the IPU. The APG also agreed upon endorsements for a number of high-level positions in the various standing committees of the IPU.
As Chairman of the APG, Speaker Simina ensured fair representation of the APG member countries on the IPU’s Executive Committee and other groups by reviewing and coordinating with the member parliaments the nominations of candidates on various committees and groups. He also coordinated the APG’s positions on key issues on the agenda of 138th IPU Assembly, as well as attended a number of bilateral meetings with the IPU President, the Secretariat, and other geopolitical group Chairs on matters internal to the IPU.
The Asia-Pacific Group was also honored by the presence of Madam Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the new President of the IPU, at the group’s meeting. At the invitation of Speaker Simina, Madam Cuevas Barron addressed the APG on her visions for the IPU.
The FSM Congress will serve as chair of this geopolitical group for the entire year, convening the next Asia-Pacific Group meeting at the 139th IPU Assembly in October 2018.
Aside from chairing the APG meeting, the FSM Congress delegation was also heavily involved in other activities during the 138th IPU Assembly which ran from March 24 – 28, 2018.
During the Governing Council meeting, the FSM delegation and a substantial number of other countries strove to put on the agenda an emergency item on Violence Against Women Parliamentarians. The FSM believes this is an issue of great importance upon which an IPU resolution could make a great impact. Unfortunately, the assembly could take up only one emergency item, and it chose during a late night vote to consider another important resolution.
This particular resolution speaks to the rights of the Palestinian people in Jerusalem in light of the recent UN Charter and resolutions on the subject matter. Although adopted by the majority of countries, nearly 30 countries, while in support of peace and the two-state solution on Israel and Palestine, the assembly expressed its reservations due to some texts in certain parts of the resolution.
In addition to voting on this and other resolutions and reports during the 138th IPU Assembly, the FSM delegation also engaged in a number of bilateral meetings with other national parliaments represented at the IPU. These included meeting the Speakers and Members of Parliaments from other Pacific Island countries including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu. This joint meeting primarily focused on common concerns and ways of addressing Pacific regional issues through the IPU. Other bilateral meetings, which mainly focused on enhancing parliamentary relations, included a meeting with the Speaker and Members of the Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura of the State of Qatar, and a meeting with the Members of the Viet Nam National Assembly.
Speaker Simina was also appointed to serve twice as President of the Assembly during the 138th IPU Assembly general debate, which revolved around the theme: “Strengthening the global regime for migrants and refugees: The need for evidence-based policy solutions”. Senator Isaac V. Figir, former Speaker of the FSM Congress and current Chairman on the Congressional Committee on Ways and Means, addressed the Assembly on behalf of the FSM delegation during this debate.
Through its membership on the IPU, the FSM Congress has addressed a number of matters of national concern through such international parliamentary dialogues including, among other issues, migration and refugees, climate change, and nuclear disarmament. The FSM Congress has also deepened and expanded its bilateral relations with other national parliaments around the world. Through the IPU, it has also obtained access to information, data, and guides on improving local legislations on matters of national concern.
Under the leadership of Speaker Wesley W. Simina, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia continues to play an active and leading role in the world’s oldest national parliamentary organization – The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU is an organization comprised of 178 countries, represented through their national parliaments, and 12 other associate members. The IPU also works closely with the United Nations and other international organizations sharing common goals. According to the IPU website, the IPU works with the world’s parliaments “to safeguard peace and drive positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.” For more information on the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), please visit www.ipu.org.
For more information on the FSM Congress’ participation in the 138th IPU Assembly and on other activities of the FSM Congress, please visit www.cfsm.fm.