Parliament is one of the oldest political institutions in the world. Today, it is the parliaments that take the responsibility for the changes necessary for the future. There is no paradox in it; a parliament provides a mechanism for public dialogue and democratic representation of interests, the rule of law and the protection of the rights of citizens.
These principles become more and more popular today, including in international politicy. And today theyunite more and more people in many countries ready to cooperate, work together to achieve common development goals.
We saw this at the International Forum “Development of Parliamentarism” that has been held recently in Moscow, which brought together parliamentarians and experts from 132 states of the world, including 41 speakers and 31 deputy-speakers of national parliaments, representatives of 12 international parliamentary organizations, in total,850 parliamentarians and experts from all regions of the world.
This is the second forum initiated by the State Duma. The format is in demand, elicited great interest of foreign colleagues. The number of participants at the level of heads of parliaments has doubledover the past year. And if earlier there could still be doubts whether the topic of the development of parliamentarismis interesting at all, today the answer is more than obvious.
Enhanced inter-parliamentary dialogue is necessary in the modern world and we face very specific tasks in its development.
The first task is the need to overcome the crisis of international law, what is possible to be done only on the basis of collective, and not unilateral, decisions. Andbeing based on such important principles as equal dialogue and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.
We live in a legal world. And let’s hope it will stay the same way in the future. This is particularly supranational regulation of issues and international law.
However, today the deliberate undermining and dismantling of the institutions of international lawisone of the most dangerous trends in world politics. Such fundamental principles of the UN Charter as respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states are often relegated to the background or not taken into account at all.
The phenomenon of growing confrontation, “trade” and “sanction” wars, theimposition of US extraterritorial legislation under the guise of a legitimate norm is an attempt to be empowered to establish its own norms, rules and models of social and political structure for other members of the world community. In fact, this is nothing more than a rampant lawlessness, on the other hand, we see the characteristics of a phenomenon that can be defined as “legal imperialism” clearly appear.
This situation must also be taken seriously because at the time of scientific, technological and economic progress, the destruction of the general legal system threatens to roll the world back. In those distant epochs when international relations were in their “natural state”, that as we remember, Thomas Hobbes defined as “a war of all against all”.
Not only for Russia, but also for the overwhelming majority of the world community, such threats to world stability are strongly unacceptable. That is why the dialogue on overcoming the crisis of international law is becoming the focus of attention of parliamentarians, as the legislative work is essential for solving this problem. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin emphasized in his address to the Forum participants, “legislative regulation has been and will be a basic factor in the world’s ongoing transformations”.
The second task of the inter-parliamentary dialogue is closely relatedto these global transformations. The world movement towards multipolarity is an objective trend, based on the national interests of the states, the right of nationals to determine independently the priorities of their development, the revival of sovereignty values.
Therefore, multipolarity requires the maximum harmonization of interests, and that means need of parliamentary mechanisms for discussing and adopting decisions, as they ensure that all opinions are taken into account and respected.
The inherent right of each country to its own development path, sovereignty, and its own democratic model should be protected and guaranteed. And direct communication between the national parliaments of different countries is an effective tool, supported by the will of people electing their parliaments. In accordance with the Declaration of the 136th Assembly of the IPU, parliaments have a special role in ensuring non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
All these raise the issue of the effectiveness of inter-parliamentary cooperation. Its broad range of capacitiescan be revealed only by getting rid of a number of accumulated systemic problems and constraints.
One of them is the irrelevance of some inter-parliamentary contacts, the so-called “parliamentary tourism”. This is an unfortunate thing, dicreditingparliamentarism, which has unique capabilities and is able to yield practical results if used responsibly.
Another, even more dangerous extreme is the politicization of inter-parliamentary institutions, attempts to turn them into an arena of bloc confrontation, discrimination, and sometimes direct provocations of radicals, as in the case of the recent egregious incident at the session of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in Tbilisi.
The artificial transfer of confrontational approaches to the inter-parliamentary dimension seems to bemotivated by the intension to involve nationals in the confrontation through the people's representatives. To this end, it is often initiated the adoption of counterproductive political statements that are not interesting to anyone and, moreover, do not include an objective public interest in the participating countries. As a result, we get an empty, negative and politicized agenda, which is interesting only to individual political forces trying to divide the international parliamentary community.
PACE, whichwas established to serve as a platform for the pan-European inter-parliamentary dialogue, the exchange of various views and proposals for the development of the European continent, its present and future, is a good example of it. It was expectedthat the PACE would become a mainstay of the principles of parliamentarism. Moreover, hardly anyone could have imagined that PACE one day would deviate from the provisions of the Statute of the Council of Europe and turn into “theweakest link” of the system of inter-parliamentary institutions. That PACE would practice discriminatory deprivation of the rights of national delegations, blocking constructive dialogue and administrative “muzzling of opponents”.
Common sense hasprevailed recentlyin PACE. A resolution on guarantees of the rights of national delegations to vote, speak and participate in the Assembly has finally been adopted, which we have been insisting on over the past few years.
However, welcoming this decision, we realize that the politicization of PACE is far from solved. Thus, the PACE monitoring imposed on Russia is also, in fact, discriminatory. They are trying to present it as a reservation, to create an illusion of inferiority of restoration of the powers of the Russian delegation. These little tricks bring no credit to their initiators and do not contribute at all to solution of itsown profound crisis of PACE, as a European institution.
We want national parliaments and inter-parliamentary structures to be more effective, to listen to people better, to defend their interests, to have more opportunities to show effectively their national priorities on the inter-parliamentary platform. For this purpose, we need to be guided by the priorities of harmonizing the interests, taking into account and respecting all opinions in the inter-parliamentary dialogue.
We will not be able to solve the third task of inter-parliamentary relations without this- to ensure the representation of the interests of the people of our countries and to strengthen mutual trust.
Parliamentarians are elected to represent the interests and express the will of the people, their voters. It is obvious that people in different countries of the world do not want crises, conflicts, confrontations. Therefore, it is important both at the interstate level and at the level of integration associations to prevent the growth of conflict potential and to promote the harmonization of relations.
Today, there is an explicit request in the world for a search of unifying themes and agendas for the promotion of a just and democratic world order, overcoming poverty and inequality, and effective cooperation in the interests of sustainable development and the well-being of nationals. And parliamentary diplomacy is needed in the modern world as an effective channel for promoting such partnership logic.
For example, the issues of assistance of lawmakers to enhance Russian-African cooperation were substantively discussed at the Conference“Russia-Africa”held in the framework of the Forum on Development of parliamentarism. It attracted great interest of parliamentarians from African states and contributed to the preparation of the first Russia-Africa summit to be held on October 24 later this year in Sochi, as the Russian President Vladimir Putin announced this idea a year ago at the 10th BRICS summit.
The great opportunities of inter-parliamentary cooperation are clearly seen in our fourth task –addressing global threats together. One of such threats is international terrorism. It is possible to overcome this most dangerous thing only by the common efforts of all states, without exception.
The specific task of legislators is to close completely the ”loopholes“ used by terrorists in the legal regulation of different countries. For example, individual terrorist organizations canbe recognized as terrorist in some countries and legally exist in others. It is unacceptable. It is necessary to developcommon interpretation, definition of terrorist organizations, to work on creating of a single list of terrorist organizations.
A lot of work is being donein the framework of the CSTO PAto harmonize the national legislation of the CSTO member states and to create legislative conditions for the creation of a single list of organizations recognized as terrorist. This practical example of effective work on the harmonization of anti-terrorism legislation within a regional inter-parliamentary structure can be a guide for other international parliamentary institutions.
In the broader context of addressing the causes of terrorism and extremism, parliamentarians also have considerable possibilities to help resolve conflicts peacefully, post-conflict reconstruction and stabilization of the situations, including in the Middle East and North Africa.
Combatingsuchthreats as illegal migration and drug trafficking also belong to these series of threats. Members of parliaments in this area of work have greater opportunities that should be implemented. In general, the exchange of experience in national regulation, the convergence and harmonization of legislation, where it is really necessary, is the basis for the contribution of people's representatives to countering all global threats.
Finally, the fifth, but perhaps one of the most urgent tasks of the inter-parliamentary dialogue is the creation of the legal framework of the future at the period of transition of the world economy and social development to a new digital era.
This trend is becoming one of the main areasof inter-parliamentary cooperation. It is especially important to share best legal formulas, best practices, joint development of effective legislative solutions and common approaches. At the same time, the discussions already held at the Forum on the Development of Parliamentarismshow that the global parliamentary communitygenerally agree thatin the digital ageshould be based on the individual and human rights asthe legislator’s reference point.
Development of new technologies necessitated protection of digital sovereignty. Entire countries, including Russia, become victim of attacks on critical infrastructure. Many states face attempts of cyber-intrusion in internal affairs, including in information and political processes. In particular, a serious destabilization factor is the dissemination of unreliable information and “fake news”. This is another threat to the basic traditional values underlying all the institutions of social interaction. In addition, ‘fake news’ can be used as aimed misinformation for economic wars and military provocations. The answer to these challenges relate to the legal regulation.
On the other hand, an important topic of inter-parliamentary dialogue still includes the issues of the impact of digital technologies on the political area, parliamentary activity, and legislative practice. All this, in the future, can modernize and enrich democracy with new forms of direct expression of the will, interactive participation of citizens in decision-making process, help to create a modern legal basis that meets the interests of people. And, ultimately, it will increase transparency and strengthen the legitimacy of democratic institutions.
In such a rapidly changing world, it is especially important for legislators to take a proactive approach, to promote innovative national and international legal regulation, anticipating change. The parliaments will have many things to doin the coming years to establish the legislative basis for the technological development of their states and at the same time to find sustainable international legal approaches to harmonizing legal regulation in the field of digital and other breakthrough technologies.
All these tasks of the development of inter-parliamentary dialogue, which have beenmentioned in this article, were the focus of the work of the Forum “Development of Parliamentarism”.
There was a detailed and meaningful conversation. There were many new ideas. The Forum becomes an effective platform for enhanced cooperation of parliaments of different countries due to transparency and democracy.
However, the main thing is that when we are discussing issues of the development of parliamentarism, we want to emphasize that we are all different, but this is our advantage. Only by respecting the diversity of traditions, cultures, regional specificities and interests of each participant,we will be able to ensure the development of our states.