Last week I had an opportunity, courtesy of the Russian Embassy and the State Duma of the Russian Federation, to attend an international conference in Moscow, Russia where more than 600 delegates from more than 150 countries came under one roof to dialogue on issues and challenges facing ordinary people across the world and the role of parliamentary cooperation in combating global challenges.
The list of delegates included Speakers of National Assemblies, parliamentarians, academics and experts in various fields such as Public Policy, Security Studies, International Relations, International Political Economy etc, from all over the world.
From the discussions one can deduce that in today’s world, the complex problems of international and national security continue to aggravate and the scale of new challenges and threats are increasing.
The most serious fundamental global threat includes a systematic disdain amongst a group of some countries for foundational norms of international law, a tendency towards unilateral approaches, the use of methods of force or sanction pressure on sovereign states and interference in their internal affairs.
Furthermore, there is huge concern about the globalisation of terrorist networks that has led to their close integration with international criminal money trafficking. This has resulted in the creation of international transnational criminal corporations with their own illegal economic activities. It is important to note that their use of new organisational forms and network technologies has led to a significant increase in terrorist and transnational criminal activities of these structures and a proportional increase in economic losses from their activities.
This has negatively affected many local populations across the world hence the need for legislatures from all over the world to dialogue on how inter-parliamentary cooperation can go a long way in combating transnational crime, terrorism and generally discuss ways to make the world a better place for global citizens to exist peacefully with each other.
Parliamentarians as direct representatives of the people, should be at the forefront through inter-parliamentary forums to contribute towards a peaceful world where citizens will be free from threats of terrorism, transnational crime and other related violence.
The Moscow Conference established that in joint political work, international parliamentary movements such as European Parliament, Pan African Parliament, Baltic Sea Parliamentary Cooperation and others, have a significant political potential to influence world affairs, which is possible to unlock through some active positioning as an agent of, amongst other things, reducing confrontation and conflict potential in the world, de-escalating tensions in international relations, constructive, pragmatic and productive cooperation between States and their associations in order to strengthen international and regional security and stability. Inter-Parliamentary cooperation can further go a long way in establishing collective principles in world affairs and the uniting agenda of countering traditional and non-traditional security challenges and threats.
This cooperation is vital for the settling of differences and eliminating emerging threats to peace through dialogue, with strict observance of fundamental norms of international law, principles of respect for sovereignty of States and non-interference in their internal affairs.
It was stressed in various discussions at the conference that the rapid dynamics of global world development makes an institute of parimentarism receptive to new challenges and changes in accordance with the requirement of the time. There are a number of global problems that cannot be solved at the national level. These then require the consolidated efforts of the global community, including parliamentarians from the countries all over the world.
When it comes to Russia- Africa relations, the Chairman of the state Duma of the Russian Federation, Mr Volodin emphasised the importance of deep ties between the Duma and Pan African Parliament to cooperate in various fields such as the training of qualified specialists for various sectors of the economy as well as health care systems of African countries. Currently 6,500 Africans are studying in Russian higher educational institutions, of which about half are funded with resources from the federal budget. More than 960 Russian state scholarships for studies are made available every year to students from African countries.
In 2014, President Putin approved a new concept of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of international development assistance which is intended to be an effective tool for increasing participation in the development assistance to Africa, mainly on a bilateral basis.
The concept of Russia’s long term economic cooperation with African countries is focussed on meeting the needs of African partners in the deep modernisation and technical re-equipment of economies, including export infrastructure, energy complex, modern agriculture and agro–industrial complex and modernisation of the armed forces. Russia has the necessary technological and production capabilities for this.
All in all, direct contacts between the Russian Duma and Pan African parliamentarians will help Africa to make use of the highly efficient parliamentary channel to communicate to their Russian counterparts information on promising areas of cooperation or topical issues that require joint action.
The agenda of parliamentary cooperation must cover trade, economy and investments, as well as exchanging contacts amongst the business community members and also cultural, academic, educational, scientific and technical cooperation, developing relations through the channel of civil societies as well as issues to be addressed by political dialogue. The only way to considerably extend and intensify the mutually beneficial cooperation between the Russian federation and African states is a comprehensive and inclusive approach going well beyond mere State to State relations.
This was a very successful conference that really gave the international community a rare chance to hold a dialogue on improving the role of parliaments in facing global challenges and seeking opportunities through inter-parlimentary cooperation.