Guyana supports UN-backed strategy for larger Caribbean presence within IPU


By Kurt Campbell in Kigali


Guyana’s Parliament is participating in the ongoing 145th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Rwanda and it stands in active support of United Nations (UN) backed efforts to get more Parliaments from Latin America and the Caribbean to join the global forum for MPs.

Ahead of the opening of the Assembly at the Kigali Convention Center on Tuesday, Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir and Opposition Member of Parliament Dawn Hastings- Williams attended the sessional meeting of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC).

During the opening of that meeting, GRULAC’s President Blas Llano spoke passionately about the UN regional group’s sustained focus on addressing and driving change on issues on the international agenda.

He also spoke extensively on GRULAC’s strategy to ensure the inclusion of more Caribbean countries, which have achieved independence from Britain without leaving the Commonwealth, to participate at the level of the IPU.

Guyana, as one of the current Caribbean countries with active participation within IPU, is also playing an active supporting role to achieve this before the next meeting set for March 2023.

Following a recent meeting in Canada, Llano reported: “We keep trying and the idea is to ensure all GRULAC members can participate in IPU.”

“We have not been able to achieve that yet but we do want to be able to ensure that Parliamentarians from the Caribbean can attend future meetings,” he added.

Efforts are also afoot to address the standing suspension of some Caribbean countries.

On screen, GRULAC’s President Blas Llano

As recently as October 03, 2022, Speaker Nadir penned a letter to the Minister of State for the Public Service in the Bahamas, Pia Glover-Rolle recommending the consideration for membership.

In that letter, Nadir pointed out that Guyana sees its membership in the IPU as beneficial and of strategic importance as the country strives to build on its existing democracy and recommits to international comity.

Following Monday’s sessional meeting of GRULAC in Kigali, Nadir told the News Room of his efforts to this end. He explained that one of the problems is organisation fatigue.

“… because there are so many groupings that many of the Caribbean countries, small in nature and small in budget, cannot afford to participate in many of them and in the past we have seen St Vincent, St Lucia and Trinidad as members of IPU but not active.”

Nadir said the IPU’s President, its Secretary General and the wider Secretariat have asked him to become more involved and during a breakfast meeting at a conference in September, many Caribbean countries expressed a willingness to move forward with their IPU membership.

“The Bahamas is already actively looking at joining… St Lucia too, Trinidad is now going to review again their lack of participation,” Speaker Nadir added.

IPU, with 178 countries as active members, could easily mirror the UN in terms of membership should the Caribbean countries ensure active participation. The UN recognises the IPU as a sister organisation.

The IPU is a unique association and one of three of which the Parliament of Guyana is a member. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Parlamericas are the others and Guyana maintains active engagements.

Also participating in the 145th IPU Assembly from Guyana are Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Issacs and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC.

Nadir, Nandlall and Hastings-Williams are delegates of GRULAC with voting rights. The is also the Committee of Clerks within the IPU of which Mr. Isaacs is a member.

IPU’s President Duarte Pacheco also delivered remarks during the meeting and thanked GRULAC for its continued defence of the Union’s values which include the fight for democracy and human rights.

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