Saturday, December 5, 2015

37th Annual Parliamentary Forum: 'The Role of Parliamentarians in Support of Peace and Security'

San Salvador, El Salvador - 30th November 2015 and 1st December 2015

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) is a network of more than 1200 parliamentarians from over 140 countries worldwide mobilized to use their legislative and political prerogatives for the solution of problems of international concern.
PGA convenes a high-level parliamentary forum on an annual basis, bringing together Parliamentarians from around the globe to exchange best practices and identify concrete steps they can take, collectively and individually, to effectively address problems with a global reach. 
PGA members are afforded an invaluable and unique opportunity during PGA Annual Fora to interact with other PGA members worldwide, as well as other parliamentarians who are not members of PGA, together with government officials and high-level experts from, inter alia, civil society and intergovernmental organisations.
Since 2000, PGA's Annual Fora have been held in Canada, Colombia, Dominican Rep., Ireland, Italy, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Turkey and United States of America, as well as at United Nations Headquarters.
PGA's 37th Annual Forum | El Salvador | 30th November 2015 and 1st December 2015
The 37th session of PGA's Annual Parliamentary Forum was hosted by the Parliament of El Salvador from November 30- December 1, 2015.
The subject matter of this year's Annual Forum was 'The Role of Parliamentarians in Support of Peace and Security' with an overriding objective of promoting universality and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and, separately, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). 
An additional goal of this year's Annual PGA Forum will be to identify linkages between the inadequate control/oversight/regulation of arms/weapons exports/imports on the one hand and the recent, serious up-tick in gang and gang-related violence in Latin America, including in El Salvador, on the other. 
In so doing, an assessment was made on how adherence to the ATT and other relevant international agreements/treaties may contribute, directly and/or indirectly, to positively addressing this grave situation.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)
Within the framework of its Campaign for Universality and Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and under the aegis of PGA's Peace & Democracy Programme, PGA Members have played an important role in support of peace and security by moving the ATT signature process forward in 44 of the 130 Countries worldwide that signed the ATT within the period prescribed by the this Treaty, prior to its entry into force on 24th December, 2014 and have also contributed in a measurable way to the processes leading up to, and whereby, 30 of the 75 Countries have ratified this seminal treaty to date.
Further information on PGA's Campaign for Universality and Implementation of the ATT may be found here
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC)
PGA launched its Global Parliamentary Campaign for Universality and Implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Conventionon the second day of its Annual Forum this year.
The BWC of 1972 was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons. 
The Convention was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol. 
The Geneva Protocol prohibits use, but not possession or development of chemical and biological weapons.
In recent months/years, and in the wake of the evolution of more sophisticated/complex terrorism threats and actions, a concomitant and renewed interest in ensuring greater global participation and implementation of the BWC has rapidly emerged.
In contrast to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the BWC has no verification mechanism and negotiations on the creation of such a mechanism have not proved successful to date.
Until such time as it may be possible for more formal verification mechanisms to be put in place, PGA believes that Parliamentarians, in exercising their unique powers/prerogatives of oversight, accountability and control over the actions of the executive branch of government, have an essential, but, to date, under-utilized, role to play in addressing – at least in part –this challenge.  
More broadly, during this year of the 40th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the BWC, and in anticipation of the 8th BWC Review Conference in December 2016, PGA is of the view that an important window of opportunity exists to mobilize its Members and other Parliamentarians worldwide to actively promote universality (new ratifications) and domestic implementation of the BWC. 
PGA also has an active Membership in 14 countries, in Africa, the Pacific Islands and Asia, not yet States Parties to the BWC.
Deliberations and Plan of Actions adopted at the conclusion of PGA Annual Fora have subsequently informed and inspired/resulted in key initiatives and activities of Lawmakers from around the world seeking to address some of the most intractable challenges facing the international community today. 
Joint Annual Meeting of PGA Executive Committee and International Council
On the occasion of the Annual Forum, the International Council and the Executive Committee (the Board) of PGA also held their annual joint meeting. 
The International Council and the Board are the governing and monitoring bodies of the PGA global parliamentary network.
Participants in Annual Forum
All democratically elected Parliaments worldwide have received from the President of the Chamber of Representatives of El Salvador, Hon. Lorena Peña, and the President of PGA, Dip. Minou Tavarez Mirabal (Dominican Republic) a written invitation to attend the 37th Annual Forum.
Parliamentary delegations were primarily composed of legislators working directly on peace-related topics, foreign affairs, defense, human rights, trade, justice, development and conflict management.
Speakers were invited to lead their respective Delegations and/or to appoint relevant Parliamentarians.
The Forum also invited all Members of PGA to attend, especially via its membership’s representative organ, the International Council, and via PGA’s executive organ, the Board (or Executive Committee).
Government Officials, NGOs and experts
The 37th Annual Forum benefited from attendance of El Salvadorian government officials. Selected NGOs representatives and experts were also invited to attend the Forum

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