30th June is International Day of Parliamentarism Parliamentary diplomacy: Building bridges for peace and understanding


Rwngwra Narzary
We know that every country in the world has some form of representative government. Being the largest democracy and mother of democracy, the Indian parliament has always been important for all of us. The Parliament of India which we call our ‘Sansad’ is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. The parliaments have a vital role to play in addressing the challenges of today’s rapidly changing world, by enabling people to connect with and participate in the law-making, policy formulation and oversight processes that impact their lives now and into the future.
Parliamentary systems fall into two categories: bicameral (with two chambers of parliament) and unicameral (with one chamber). In India, we have Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and we have seen the importance of Indian parliament. Parliaments have a special responsibility to ensure that the country's citizens can take part in democratic processes.
We should know that out of 190 countries, 78 are bicameral and 112 are unicameral, making a total of 268 chambers of parliament with over 44,000 members of parliament. 26.9% of the world's members of parliament are women. Half the world’s population is under 30 and yet only under 3% of MPs globally represent this age group. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) membership is made up of 180 national parliaments.
The IPU is the global organization of national parliaments. What began in 1889 as a small group of parliamentarians, dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue, has since grown into a truly global organization with 180 Members and 15 Associate Members. The IPU facilitates parliamentary diplomacy and empowers parliaments and parliamentarians to promote peace, democracy and sustainable development around the world.
Instituting an international day for parliaments is particularly important at this critical time for parliamentary democracy, when people are losing trust in political institutions and democracy itself is facing challenges from populist and nationalist movements. If democracy is to thrive, then parliaments, as the cornerstone of functioning democracies, need to be strong, transparent, accountable and representative.
The International Day of Parliamentarism (IDP) is celebrated every year on 30 June, the date in 1889 on which the IPU was founded. The Day was established in 2018 through a United Nations General Assembly Resolution. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/72/278, recognized the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels.
There are challenges ahead as we have to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) There are worldwide challenges which need to be addressed by the parliaments.  The enhancement of Information Communication Technologies brings an opportunity for parliaments to cooperate and draw on each other’s experiences, methods and solutions. There is no doubt that fostering a community of practice among parliaments will stimulate effective approaches to engagement across the world.
Parliamentary diplomacy is a way to build relationships and promote cooperation between national parliaments. Many parliaments encourage their members to participate in inter-parliamentary organisations, bilateral exchanges, and other parliamentary diplomacy initiatives. In this way Parliamentarians can represent their countries' interests, foster dialogue and cooperation with counterparts from other nations, and work towards building consensus on international issues.
As one of the members of Rajya Sabha, we have the experience of visiting countries like Japan (25th November to 2nd December, 2023) along with other members of Parliaments representing different states from North East India. This was organised by Confederation of Indian Industries and Sasakawa Peace Foundation. This kind of visit is an example of how MPs can help in strengthening the relationship with other countries like Japan. This visit also helped us to identify the probable areas of cooperation which would help both the countries especially the North Eastern region of India. Our visit has helped us in understanding about Japan and also helped us to make new areas of cooperation for enhancing the relationship in different areas like industry, health, tourism, etc.
I have experienced the healthy debates in the Rajya Sabha and we are proud that in India, the democratic process is always upheld and after debates bills are passed and become laws. The MPs have different opportunities to take part in debate and discussions in any matter which concern the nation from constituency to global level under different devices of the rules and proceedings of the parliament like zero-hour, special mention, pulling attention, putting private members bill, etc.
The IDP is an opportunity to generate awareness and look at the importance of parliamentary diplomacy. We have seen the importance of the G 20 summit with the participation of heads of the states and parliamentarians and their positive gesture towards discussing global issues and also collaborating for bringing sustainable development. Effective parliamentary diplomacy should bring peace and achieve global goals like SDGs.                  
(With inputs from UN publication)
Rwngwra Narzary is Rajya Sabha member from Assam and also the  working president of United People’s Party Liberal ( UPPL)