UN chief Ban Ki-moon meets National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem
UN chief Ban Ki-moon meets National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem

NEW YORK: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanem urged the United Nations yesterday to continue its ethical role for enhancing values of democracy, as a culture and in practice. Once the international community instills such noble values in world countries, there will be no fears over the ballot box, whatever adventurers do to drive democracy out of its sound track, Ghanem said in his address to the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament that kicked off in New York. Ghanem stressed how democracy is vital for consolidating concepts of co-existence and tolerance in different communities. He referred to Kuwait’s relevant experience which helped the country overcome the hardest conditions.

Thanks to its long history of Shura, democracy and values of coexistence and religious tolerance, Kuwait has managed to counter ‘heinous sedition’ on all levels, starting from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah to each and every citizen.

Kuwaitis have been keen at several points in history to achieve a balance for guaranteeing a true democratic system that would not turn into an abuse to the concept of democracy itself, he stressed. Ghanem warned against those who abused democracy and use ballot boxes to tarnish the democratic process. He called on the UN to play a “moral role” to boost values, culture and practice of democracy, as well as promoting equality, good governance, rule of law, political, cultural and social tolerance, in addition to co-existence.

Ghanem said there would always be genuine democratic people who would abort all bids to create chaos. “When I speak about tolerance and co-existence, I recalled the terrorist attack against one of the mosques in my country in a bid to drag the country to sectarian sedition,” he said. However, he underlined, Kuwait demonstrated an example of religious and sectarian harmony which aborted the sedition. “We believe that democracy is not just an option… It is our destiny and we are determined to continue with this path for the sake of the next generations,” he said.

Multiple crises
The Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament had kicked off Monday to focus on peace, democracy, and development seen through the parliamentary lens, with UN chief highlighting how the world was gripped by multiple crises. The three-day Conference is part of the series of high-level meetings leading up to the UN Summit in late September 2015, at which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be launched.

The conference is convened by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in cooperation with the UN. Speaking at the opening session, Ban Kimoon affirmed that the parliamentarians came together for the first time in five years, at a moment when the world is gripped by multiple crises, more people have been displaced by conflict than at any time since the Second World War, and “climate change increasingly threatens our well-being.” In such situations, he said, “we are being challenged to strengthen collective resolve to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights around the world. “Perhaps most important given your role, this is also a period when Governance structures in many parts of the world are facing a crisis of legitimacy, representation and participation,” he added.

The UN Chief commended the parliamentarians of the world, their organization, as well as the IPU for the valuable role played in shaping the SDGs’ 17 goals. The parliamentarians’ contribution, he added, to the implementation will be “equally critical” in ensuring that the agenda is translated from the global to the national level. “People will look to you to hold your governments accountable for achieving the goals, and to write the laws and invest in the programs that will make them a reality,” he stressed. Ban valued deepening cooperation between the UN and the parliamentarians, and with the IPU in specific, affirming the task of implementing and monitoring these goals being “huge.” The implementation requires States to work in strong and close partnership with civil society of all stripes, he said.

Important juncture Meanwhile, the General Assembly President Sam Kutesa told the attendees that the Conference is taking place at an important juncture during this momentous year. Gathering in the General Assembly Hall, just one day before Member States are due to take action on a draft resolution to transmit the agreed outcome document entitled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” to the Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, he confirmed. Kutesa said the contributions and input of parliamentarians, local authorities, civil society and academia, among other stakeholders, were all instrumental in formulating this transformative agenda that will guide our development efforts for the next 15 years. Moreover, he stressed that Parliamentarians should continue to ensure that the voices of the people are heard and included in the development process, which will result in the enhancement of ownership of the new agenda and its implementation on the ground, which will be vital for its success. The opening ceremony also attended by IPU President Saber Chowdhury, Forest Whitaker, humanist and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, who was keynote speaker as well as parliamentarians of more than 100 countries. The Kuwaiti delegation is led by Ghanem and includes MPs Dr Yousef Al-Zalzalah, Saif Al-Azmi, Abdullah Al-Mayouf, and Secretary General of the National Assembly Allam Al-Kandari, in addition to Kuwait Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi.

Ban meets Ghanem Separately, UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed appreciation for Kuwait’s global humanitarian efforts, particularly those of His Highness the Amir. He made his statements during a meeting with Ghanem on the sidelines of the conference. Ban shed light on His Highness the Amir’s honoring as a UN ‘Humanitarian Leader’ last year, in appreciation of the Kuwaiti leader’s support of global efforts to provide relief and assistance to millions of disaster and conflict-stricken peoples around the world.

Kuwait’s participation In the meantime, Zalzalah said that the attendance of Kuwaiti lawmakers at the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament provides a large platform for the exchange of opinions on crucial global affairs. Speaking to KUNA and Kuwait TV after attending the opening session, Zalzalah hailed the directions of Ban Ki-moon on the importance of global humanitarian work. He also agreed that this is a necessity, particularly in light of the large number of current global conflicts which are leading to many deaths among civilians, including children, women and the elderly. On this, he underlined the important role of parliaments in initiating humanitarian efforts and tackling racial and gender discrimination. The conference’s aim to shed light on many crucial global issues is important, he added, and parliaments in turn should put forward all of their resources in order to resolve these matters. Kuwaiti lawmaker Abdullah Al-Mayouf reiterated the session’s emphasis on the youth, which he described as being the future of any given nation. “We should focus on them,” he said. “By this we will reap positive results for national development and this will also lead to discouraging them from joining terrorist organizations and conductions acts that are inhumane or that counter human rights.” Another lawmaker, Saif Al-Azmi, pointed out the role of the Kuwaiti government on humanitarian initiatives and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah as a leading global humanitarian figure.

Better representation Separately, Ghanem held a dinner banquet in the honor of speakers of Arab and Gulf parliaments and legislative councils, taking part in the conference. They stressed on their keenness on cooperating to better represent their nations in this international event. They also discussed coordinating their stances and visions in the conference which is held every five years by the UN. They praised the initiative of Ghanem, also President of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU), for organizing such meeting in order to promote parliamentary cooperation in the Arab region and serve the region’s issues in the international events. —KUNA