A parliamentary delegation led by Parliament Speaker Hanafi Gibali participated in two conferences held in Vienna, the capital of Austria, this week. The conferences were the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament followed by the first global parliamentary summit on counter-terrorism.
Organised jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Austrian parliament in cooperation with the United Nations, the fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament discussed on 7 and 8 September several issues, including the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, countering misinformation, youth participation in politics, and gender equality.
The conference was preceded by the 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament on Monday.
In a statement before the conference on Tuesday, Gibali stressed that Egypt had taken several steps in respecting human rights and achieving gender equality.
He said the “Egypt has spared no effort in helping women play a more active role in political and economic arenas.”
Gibali also indicated that “the Egyptian state has exerted great efforts for safeguarding women against the negative impact of the coronavirus.”
Egypt has been keen to draft laws that help extend legislative protection for women, according to Gibali, citing the new criminal procedures law which toughens penalties on sexual harassment, allowing women to play a greater role in public life.
The idea of holding an international conference for the world’s parliamentary speakers was first proposed in 2000. The Geneva-based IPU in collaboration with the United Nations decided that a conference for the world’s parliamentary speakers be held every five years to draft a declaration on “a parliamentary vision for international cooperation at the dawn of the third millennium”. The declaration also calls for, among other things, the United Nations to work with national parliaments, through the IPU, in the pursuit of peace and security, economic and social development, international law and human rights, democracy, and gender issues.
On Monday, Gibali met his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka to discuss strengthening parliamentary cooperation. Gibali reviewed Egypt’s development efforts at all levels, particularly in fighting terrorism and improving the lives of citizens within the framework of the presidential “Decent Life” initiative.
Gibali and Sobotka, agreed that an Egyptian-Austrian parliamentary friendship association be set up to promote political and legislative cooperation between the two parliaments of Egypt and Austria, particularly in passing legislation aimed at fighting terrorism and also acting as a forum for reinforcing friendly relations between the two countries.
Gibali is also scheduled to participate in the first global parliamentary summit on counter-terrorism, organised by the IPU and the UN.
In a statement before the summit, Gibali reviewed Egypt’s experience in defeating terrorism and achieving stability, highlighting the role of parliament in passing legislation that helped the state win its war against terrorist movements.
In a meeting with Saqr Ghobash, speaker of the Arab Parliamentary Union and the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates, Gibali stressed the importance of the Arab Gulf’s security to Egypt. “The security of Arab Gulf countries is a red line for Egypt which rejects all forms of interference in internal Arab affairs,” said Gibali, adding that “Egypt rejects any attempts aimed at playing havoc with freedom of navigation in Arab Gulf waters.”
A statement released by parliament said the summit was a window for MPs from around the world to discuss vital issues related to combating terrorism, providing support for the victims of terrorist crimes and the role of parliamentarians in fighting extremist agendas which lead to the spread of terrorism. “The conference, in particular, would focus on the proliferation of terrorist crimes in the African coast and helping nations in this region to join efforts to find solutions to this problem,” the statement said.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.