Parliaments play critical roles in conflict prevention, peace building and post-conflict reconstruction. Peace and security requires executive bodies to act with efficiency and effectiveness, but it also requires representation and accountability: two core functions of parliaments. Parliaments connect citizens with the state and can make sure that the citizen’s concerns and priorities are incorporated in security laws and policies. Parliaments can also hold governments to account for their action, or lack thereof, to address critical issues such as poverty reduction, which can reduce a society’s vulnerability to conflict. They are natural places for mediation, where diversity is represented, competing points of view are articulated and where dialogue can build consensus. These core functions are essential in mitigating and resolving conflict.
Parliaments and Public Safety
Public Safety, also referred to as public security, involves the function of governments that prevents and protects citizens, organizations and institutions against events that could endanger the safety and well-being of the general public, as well as the prosperity of their communities. Organized crime, international terrorism, natural or man-made disasters and pandemics are some examples of threats to public safety, which often are not deterred by geographical barriers, can be a serious threat to good governance and a major impediment for sustainable development.
The Parliamentary Centre can help strengthening the role and capacity of parliaments to contribute to policy development, to draft, consider and pass legislation and provide oversight in the field of public safety. The Centre can also assist to increase dialogue between legislators, governments, the judiciary, civil society and other key stakeholders for enhanced citizen security, both at the national and regional level.
Parliaments, Conflict Prevention and Peace Building
More and more emerging democracies are interested in developing parliamentary capacity in the areas of conflict prevention, peace building and post-conflict reconstruction. Parliamentarians are uniquely positioned to play leadership roles in their societies and to strengthen peace building from below. The Parliamentary Centre and partners around the world have worked with several parliaments in countries emerging from conflict, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Serbia, Sudan and West Africa through the ECOWAS Parliament. The Centre can help parliaments understand of the underlying causes of conflict. It can also to provide tools and build capacity for parliaments to play a more effective role in preventing and resolving conflict, as well as in peace building and reconciliation efforts.
Parliaments and Human Rights
Key human rights values and principles such as universality, freedom of expression, equality, non-discrimination, participation and the inclusion of vulnerable groups, accountability and the rule of law are part of the constitutions of most countries. Parliament is therefore in a key position to promote, protect and realize human rights at the national level. Through its lawmaking function, parliament is in a critical position to ensure that new or existing legislation are consistent with human rights obligations. Through its oversight and representative functions, parliament can assess whether laws are being applied according to human rights principles in practice, and if laws discriminate against or disregard the rights of the people they represent, parliament can advocate for necessary changes. The Parliamentary Centre can assist parliaments during these processes, as well as provide support to temporary committees addressing human rights issues.