Resolution adopted without a vote by the 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Cairo, 15 September 1997)

The 98th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Convinced that the dignity of the individual is inviolable,

Believing that respect for human rights is not only a fundamental value, but also a crucial element in the development of stable, democratic and prosperous societies at peace with each other, and convinced that the rights of women and children are inherent in human rights,

Convinced that respect for human rights is a prerequisite for peace within individual States, as well as for peaceful good-neighbourly relations between States,

Also convinced that a parliament elected freely and fairly is the best guarantee of human dignity and the prosperity of citizens,

Appreciating that democracy offers the best framework for citizens to develop their creativity and potential and contribute to the establishment, development and preservation of their society,

Convinced that access to education and information is vital to citizens' participation in society,

Stressing that the principles of democracy may be applied differently, according to the culture, history and constitution of each nation,

Observing nonetheless that democracy presupposes that:

  • The people have the power to decide programmes and policies directly or through representatives chosen in free and fair elections;
  • Those in power are effectively given the means to manage the country;
  • Those in power are accountable to the people,

Believing that good governance ensures the effective, honest, equitable, accessible, accountable and transparent exercise of power by governments,

Convinced that a representative democracy can only endure if citizens trust constitutional processes and institutions and if legislators earn their respect,

Reasserting that parliament is the true and legitimate representative of the people, and emphasising the need therefore to strengthen links between this institution, its members and the people,

Aware that parliament has an obligation to provide citizens with information about its work,

Convinced that elected parliamentarians have a duty to be fully informed of citizens' circumstances and problems through constant communication with their constituents,

Acknowledging that the media have an important role to play in facilitating communication between parliament and citizens,

Further acknowledging the important role which various groups and institutions play in a democracy by articulating diverse sociocultural, political and economic issues,

Aware that in every society, peaceful conditions in which candidates, representatives and the people are not subject to violence or intimidation are essential for the smooth functioning of the democratic process,

Welcoming the role played by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in strengthening the ties of friendship between parliaments and parliamentarians and, through them, between peoples, and conscious of the need for confidence in political processes, parties, parliaments and parliamentarians,

  1. Calls on all States to safeguard free and fair elections without any discrimination, in conformity with the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council in Paris in March 1994;
  2. Urges States to condemn and take action against all acts of violence against the people's representatives, candidates and the people themselves;
  3. Further urges States to safeguard the role of parliaments and political institutions so as to enable parliamentarians to play their role properly and freely, inter alia by adopting legislation, overseeing the government and debating major societal issues;
  4. Calls on States to ensure citizens' unrestricted and permanent access to education and information and, in this regard, recognises the value of new technologies for parliamentary work;
  5. Also calls on States to recognise and accommodate diversity as a guarantee of democracy in a pluralist society;
  6. Further calls on States to strengthen representative parliamentary democracy with constitutional instruments, including petitions and referenda, parliamentary recall and the right to initiate legislation, wherever these may be appropriate and feasible in the light of the constitutional system and established political culture;
  7. Appeals to parliaments and governments to ensure that citizens are aware of their democratic rights and responsibilities regarding their participation in the democratic process and to see to it that legislation is drafted in clear and simple language which is comprehensible to citizens;
  8. Emphasises the need to foster direct contacts between parliamentarians and citizens through meetings and discussions at all levels, nationally and internationally;
  9. Calls on parliaments to ensure, through an open and accessible public information policy, accurate and comprehensive reporting of the work of parliamentarians in the media;
  10. Also emphasises the need to ensure unrestricted, objective, ethical and unbiased reporting by the media on the work of parliament and parliamentarians;
  11. Encourages National Groups to consider each of the cases in the report of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and to take appropriate follow-up action in their favour.

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