By Akanimo Sampson
From this coming September 9 through 10, the sixth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians is billed to hold in Asunción, Paraguay, with the issues of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and youth empowerment top on the agenda.
The confab is coming at a time of growing inequality, an ominous climate crisis and growing social unrest, requiring new approaches and solutions to be found.
There are growing concerns that growth alone and current, traditional development models are unable to provide an efficient answer to the social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. It seems they are also unable to facilitate the achievement of the SDGs, which require accelerated efforts, bold thinking and innovation.
Could the concept and objective of well-being therefore, be the answer?
Those who know better are of the view that the transition to a well-being approach requires fundamental changes in the conceptualisation and development of policies and the measuring of progress.
Several countries are leading the way in implementing this approach in their national development policies, budgets, legislation and programmes at both the national and local levels.
The Paraguay Conference will be based primarily on the sharing of policies and creative practices that promote well-being and happiness with a focus on how such policies and practices contribute to youth empowerment.
Young parliamentarians, as political leaders closest to the youngest generations, can play a critical role in amplifying the voices of young people and translating their interests into concrete action.
The sessions of the Conference will focus on the following main themes: Well-being and happiness as core elements of the SDGs; Policymaking for well-being and its effect on youth empowerment: Case studies from around the world to be presented by young parliamentarians; and Measuring well-being and exercising oversight of policy implementation.
The Conference which is open to young men and women members of national parliaments as well as Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) observers and selected youth organisations, networks and associations, will also include sessions devoted to mentorship as well as training in leadership and communications skills for young MPs.
Meanwhile, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 of 2004 is an important tool in the global non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) architecture. Adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the resolution imposes binding obligations on all States and commits governments to implement effective laws and regulations to prevent access to WMDs by non-State actors.
As part of the binding obligations, the Security Council called upon all States to present a first report on steps they had taken or intended to take to implement this resolution. However, a small group of Member States has not yet submitted their initial report. States were also encouraged to prepare, on a voluntary basis, national implementation action plans mapping out their priorities and activities when implementing the key provisions of the resolution, and to submit those plans to the 1540 Committee.
As the legislative branch of government that is also responsible for oversight and budget allocations, parliaments have a key role to play in supporting the implementation of the resolution in its many provisions. Yet, in most countries there remains little awareness among parliamentarians of the security risks associated with WMDs. As a result, effective national legislative and regulatory frameworks are lacking in one respect or another.
In this context, the House of Representatives of New Zealand and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are organising a seminar aimed at encouraging national parliaments to promote implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540. The seminar will take place in Wellington, the 19 and 20 September 2019.
The main purpose of the seminar is to strengthen parliaments’ ability to assess the risk associated with WMD and to take the requisite measures to lower the risk in the region. The seminar will aim to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and allow parliamentarians to establish informal networks across borders or individual contacts. It will take the form of a practical workshop, presenting examples of laws and regulations in place in countries within the Pacific region with a view to highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.