Fostering International Discussions

by BTM

Thu, 02 March 2023

HE Jamal Mohamed Abdulrahman Fakhroo

Members of Parliament from around the world will convene in Bahrain for the 146th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly which will be held from March 11 to March 15. Bahrain This Month speaks to Bahraini legislator and the First Deputy Chairman of the Shura Council, HE Jamal Mohamed Abdulrahman Fakhroo, who explains the significance of the IPU that is to be hosted by the Parliament of Bahrain, and the theme for the high-profile event.

Hundreds of parliamentarians from all over the world are expected to attend the deliberations on the overall theme of ‘Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance’. According to the 2022 Global Peace Index, published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank, the world has reached its lowest point of peacefulness in the last 15 years. However, parliaments, as guardians of the rule of law, citizenship, human rights and justice, are part of the solution.

The Inter Parliamentary Union was established in 1889 with the purpose of bringing parliaments together to discuss international matters. “Through these meetings, parliamentarians are able to discuss matters related to peace, society, freedom and so other subjects that are related to the betterment of people’s lives, bringing freedom and peace to people, societies and the world,” states His Excellency.

During the Assembly, the IPU will offer opportunities for exchanges on good practices to promote inclusion and support peaceful coexistence as a prerequisite of resilient, cohesive and democratic societies. “The theme of our meeting this year is a subject that's very close to our hearts. When we selected the theme, we considered how to present Bahrain as a country to those parliamentarians. We want to showcase Bahrain as the peaceful and inclusive society that it is,” he says.

All the IPU’s parliamentary bodies will meet, including its four thematic standing committees, the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, the Forum of Young Parliamentarians and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians. An estimated 110 parliaments, including delegations from countries in conflict situations, will attend the IPU which will be held at Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB). The IPU currently consists of 179 Member Parliaments following the readmission of Liberia. “We expect between 700 and 800 parliamentarians to attend the IPU assembly in addition to their supporting staff. Hence, we are expecting an attendance of over 1500 people,” he says. 

Historically, the Inter Parliamentary Union Assembly would be held at the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “This is the first time the IPU Assembly will be held in Bahrain. It is not the norm for the IPU Assembly to be held outside Geneva, and there are several preparations which need to take place prior to the event. If you don't have the infrastructure, you cannot host it; so, really, we are very proud to be given the opportunity to host the IPU in Bahrain,” he explains. 

The IPU Task Force for the peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine will meet high-level parliamentary delegations from both the Russian Federation and Ukraine to continue to explore options for a peaceful resolution of grievances, in strict observance of international law. The IPU Committee on Middle East Questions and the IPU Group of Facilitators on Cyprus will also meet to take stock of and propose measures to resolve the situation in those regions.

“The outcome we are discussing is with regards to international agendas. We don't discuss Bahrain or local agenda. So, the outcome of the assembly will be represented through the statement that will be issued at the end of the conference covering the main subject,” he explains.

This statement will include a summary of the speeches delivered by speakers and representatives, covering the theme of the conference. “We have a speaker from King Hamad Centre for Peaceful Coexistence and the Supreme Council of Women. The main speech of our delegation will be delivered by Chairman of the Shura Council, HE Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh,” he states. 

The Kingdom of Bahrain has a history of religious coexistence in the region. This is evident through the presence of a synagogue, churches, the 200-year-old Manama temple and mosques. “When you host a conference in your country, the idea is to showcase your country to these delegations while building a political relationship with other parliamentarians. We want to showcase our country, our peaceful coexistence and inclusive society,” he says.

With regards to representation at the IPU, HE states that there will be no age limit set as any member of parliament can attend. “Two years ago, we started the Forum of Young Parliamentarians which states that anyone below the age of 45 is treated as a member of the Youth Parliamentarian Forum,” he explains. 

Regarding gender equality and the representation of women, HE believes that a 50 percent representation of women in parliament is necessary. “I believe that we should not have a set figure, but rather keep it open and push the society to elect the number of women they want to elect. It would be great if we can have a 50-50 representation in our parliament. In fact, in the UAE having a 50 percent representation of women and 50 percent representation of men in parliament is required by law. Further, in countries such as Burundi, there are more women parliamentarians than men,” he says.

“We do not know the exact number of women parliamentarians attending the assembly. Usually, approximately 30 percent of attendees are women. Today, globally, the percentage of women in parliament is approximately 25 percent. Hence, Bahrain is at the global percentage with eight women in the house of representatives and nine women in the Shura Council,” he says.

The Assembly will also see the launch of a new IPU campaign, Parliaments for the Planet, designed to mobilise parliaments and parliamentarians to act on the climate emergency. The campaign will encourage parliaments to reduce their carbon footprints and become greener institutions. It will also support parliaments in their efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate through legislation, budgeting and scrutiny of government action. 
Visit for more information on the 146th Inter Parliamentary Union Assembly.