HE Speaker of the Shura Council Hassan bin Abdullah Al Ghanem participated Saturday in the plenary session of the five-day 143rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Madrid, Spain, under the title "Contemporary challenges to democracy: Overcoming division and building community."
At the outset of his speech, HE the Speaker of the Shura Council expressed happiness to participate in such an important event as the first elected president of the first elected Shura Council in the history of the State of Qatar, after the general legislative elections in Qatar took place on Oct. 02, 2021.
His Excellency pointed out that all stages of the electoral process were characterized by clarity, transparency, and respect for the constitution and related laws in accordance with the lofty directives of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who leads the country with a wise and rational policy whose manifestations are demonstrated in building a state governed by law and pursues a policy aimed at achieving sustainable development and the welfare of citizens, providing them with a decent life, in addition to paying attention to just causes in the world, particularly the cause of the Palestinian people who are struggling to obtain their legitimate rights and establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, within the borders of June 5, 1967.
His Excellency continued that the elections were conducted in accordance with the approved international democratic standards, where the Qatari people participated in the elections within an atmosphere of freedom and democracy, starting with the registration of voters and the announcement of the list of candidates, then the electoral campaign and conducting the poll until the announcement of the results.
During the speech, HE Speaker of the Shura Council Hassan bin Abdullah Al Ghanem referred to the items included in the 143rd IPU Assembly agenda, especially the discussion of "Contemporary challenges to democracy: Overcoming division and building community," as well as other issues on the committees' agenda.
He explained that democracy is already facing many challenges resulting from the threats of instability in some regions of the world, and the attempt to prejudice security, stability, and peace, are the basis for achieving sustainable development for peoples, without which democracy cannot be achieved. He called for intensifying the efforts to ensure the success of international endeavors to combat terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, which poses a real threat to international peace and security.
His Excellency stressed that democracy does not grow or prosper in the absence of freedoms, warning of the consequences of blocking the political sphere, which leads to a growing cycle of discord and violence, and everything that threatens stability, social security, and coexistence.
He underlined the importance of such meetings, emphasizing the necessity of prohibiting the misuse of the media in political discourse but to using it as a tool to promote dialogue and meaningful rapprochement characterized by tolerance and acceptance of the other opinion, which will achieve good and hope for the future of democracy.
HE the Speaker of the Shura Council referred HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani's call, which was made several times at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), to regulate the use of technology and information in accordance with an international law regulating this field. He referred to His Highness' proposal in his speech at the 73rd UNGA in September 2018 to hold an international conference to regulate the use of digital technology, in which His Highness expressed Qatar's readiness to work with UN agencies to legally organize and host it.
Before the IPU Assembly, HE Speaker of the Shura Council called for developing an international law regulating cyber security due to its paramount importance to achieving global peace and security. He demonstrated this by saying that the elections and the will of the people are rigged through digital technology, which makes the masses lose confidence in the election results, even in the major developed countries.
His Excellency stressed the importance of parliaments protecting freedom of expression on the Internet, calling for addressing misleading information. He pointed out that there are many advantages of the Internet and the right to access and use it to express opinions freely, but the means of communication and technology bear a serious negative aspect if misused.
He indicated that this era of open spaces in which information cannot be withheld, but should be rationalized and kept away from misinformation and legalization of its use concerning parliamentary work under an international law that criminalizes misuse.
HE Speaker of the Shura Council Hassan bin Abdullah Al Ghanem called on parliaments to expand the base of popular participation through the involvement of underrepresented sectors and segments such as women, youth, and minorities, by giving them a positive discriminatory status, indicating that inequality of opportunities and disparity in capabilities reduce the opportunities for these marginalized sectors to engage in political action.
His Excellency pointed out that parliaments with a broad popular base are those in which marginalized and weak segments of society are represented, which enhances people's confidence in their political institutions, pointing out that exercising democratic rights for unequal people does not achieve justice.
HE the Speaker of the Shura Council referred to the Glasgow Declaration and the Rome Declaration for the IPU meetings, which underlined that the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are women, youth, and indigenous people, especially in developing countries and island countries, where the Glasgow Declaration called to support these segments.
HE the Speaker pointed out that within the framework of the State of Qatar's keenness to play its role as an active partner in the efforts of the international community in addressing climate change, Qatar has contributed USD100 million to support small island developing states and least developed countries to deal with climate change, natural hazards and environmental challenges, to build capacity to confront its devastating effects, which will have a positive impact in supporting green recovery from the pandemic and the effects of climate change and in promoting sustainable development and democratic work.
HE the Speaker of the Shura Council pointed to the memorandum of understanding signed in June between the Shura Council and the IPU, which is an affirmation of the important role of the Shura Council in international conferences and meetings and also emphasizes the IPU role in supporting and coordinating parliaments. He explained that the MoU aims to develop further cooperation and coordination between the two parties by establishing a general framework for their relation.
HE the Speaker of the Shura Council noted that this agreement came within the framework of the State of Qatar's keenness to consolidate its relations with international parliaments, reiterating in this context the State of Qatar's support for the IPU and its initiatives aimed at maintaining international peace and security, and creating the appropriate conditions to achieve sustainable development and enhance international cooperation to combat difficulties such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted development and delayed progress in many regions of the world.
His Excellency concluded his speech by thanking the King, Government, and people of the Kingdom of Spain, HE the Speaker of the House of Representatives and HE the President of the Senate of the Kingdom of Spain, for the hospitality and organization and everyone who contributed to the organization and success of the Assembly and its accompanying meetings.
The plenary session witnessed several speeches by the heads of participating delegations before the IPU Assembly, as well as a review of the reports of the IPU permanent committees.
The Assembly's work and accompanying meetings will discuss several issues concerning democracy, human rights, sustainable development, combating terrorism and violent extremism, and global vaccination efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agenda of the Assembly's meetings include consideration of the item from the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development of the 144th IPU Assembly on promoting information and communication technology as an aid to the education sector, including during times of the pandemic.