March 26, 2020
The global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus presents an unprecedented challenge, for which we must develop innovative techniques that ensure the fulfilment of our respective functions, while following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevention of the spread of this virus. As parliaments are the highest instance of democratic representation, legislators must continue to project the voice of citizens and keep them informed of the measures that are being adopted to protect public health.
For that reason, ParlAmericas has developed a publication on COVID-19 and the role of parliament during a pandemic in order to present an overview of the socioeconomic and public health implications of this pandemic; mitigation and adaptation recommendations in order to continue performing parliamentary work; and a reflection on the important role of parliamentarians during a health crisis, bearing in mind the role of political control over the actions being taken in our countries.
This document includes measures that parliaments are putting into practice, such as the approval of provisions that allow for plenary and committee sessions to be held virtually, as is the case of the parliaments of Brazil, Chile and Ecuador. As such, we wish to offer our support and advice by making available the tools and efforts that are being developed.
This publication will be updated taking into account the latest events concerning COVID-19, for which we would appreciate any comments you may have, as well as information on the mitigation and adaptation measures being implemented in the parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean. Kindly contact email@example.com.
We encourage the hemisphere's legislatures to find in this situation an opportunity to coordinate actions and to revive cooperation activities in the interests of our peoples.
Member of the National Assembly, Ecuador
President of ParlAmericas
 The Ecuadorian parliament has approved the “Regulation for the Implementation of Virtual Sessions and Provisional Teleworking”, activated two digital platforms (sessions and voting) and arranged for the opening of electronic service channels. These efforts make it possible to continue providing institutional services. For more information on the Ecuadorian experience, you may wish to contact the following: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
March 12, 2020
In response to the global situation with regard to the outbreak and expansion of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil and ParlAmericas regret to inform you that the 5th Gathering of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network: Counteracting disinformation to promote a responsible public discourse to be held in Brasilia, Brazil, from April 1 to 3, 2020, has been postponed for the safety of parliamentary delegations, specialists and international organizations that would participate in the meeting and to prevent amplifying the spread of the virus.
The Chamber of Deputies of Brazil and ParlAmericas are in talks to define new dates for this meeting, while closely following the evolution of COVID-19 and the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Once confirmed, member parliaments and international institutions will be informed of the new dates in a timely manner.
ParlAmericas reaffirms its commitment to continue promoting legislative openness in the hemisphere and working to meet its goals and objectives for 2020.
March 4, 2020
On March 5, 6, and 9, 2020, ParlAmericas and Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) will host the inaugural Young Women in Leadership initiative (YWiL) in Port of Spain, in partnership with the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. This initiative will bring together more than 55 young women leaders between the ages of 18-25 from across Trinidad and Tobago who are interested in politics and community leadership for skills-building workshops, networking sessions, and dialogue on themes of importance to the country. The leadership workshops will culminate in a historic all-women sitting in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago on March 9 in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Grounded in the concept of transformational leadership to support the advancement of human rights and full equality for all persons, the YWiL leadership workshops will include sessions on applying a gender lens in decision-making, building effective leadership skills, and exploring personal leadership styles and planning.
The two-day leadership workshops will prepare participants for the first-ever all-women YWiL Parliamentary Sitting in the Chamber of the House of Representatives where each participant will serve as a parliamentarian or officer of parliament for a debate on a budget amendment bill developed through a gender-responsive budgeting process. This simulated bill will propose fund reallocations in line with identified gender equality priorities, which participants will review and share responses drawing on their expertise and research, and in line with their assigned role. The Sitting will conclude with remarks by the Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors.
This initiative is one in a series of such activities that will be organised in countries across the region, forming a core component of the ParlAmericas-CIWiL joint project to advance women’s political participation in the Caribbean, supported by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. Each activity will be designed to encourage young women to consider public leadership as a future career path, and to build knowledge, skills, and networks beneficial to this work. Participants will also be encouraged to share their learning to positively impact their communities and countries.
Follow the meeting using #YWiLTT, or by visiting the @ParlAmericas and @_CIWiL social media pages.
February 10, 2020
Following the event that occurred in the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador on Sunday, February 9, ParlAmericas expresses its concern and calls for dialogue between all of the actors and institutions of the democratic system to overcome the political crisis, valuing their autonomy and acting in the best interests of the public.
The autonomy of the parliament is essential in democracies to ensuring a balance of State powers. Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, highlighted that, “In recognition of the universal principle of sovereignty and the right to self-determination, we advocate for finding a speedy resolution that reduces the political and social tension being experienced in the country."
ParlAmericas, as the institution that promotes parliamentary diplomacy in the inter-American system, reaffirms its strong commitment to democracy and its will to support the strengthening of parliamentary institutions throughout the region.
February 10, 2020
On February 10-11, 2020, ParlAmericas will co-organise a multi-stakeholder meeting in collaboration with UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean; the Institute for Gender and Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit at the University of the West Indies - Cave Hill; Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL); the Westminster Foundation for Democracy; and CARICOM. The meeting, titled Building a coordinated position for Caribbean negotiations on Beijing+25, will bring together ministers, parliamentarians, and representatives from civil society and multilateral organisations as well as gender machinery from the Anglophone Caribbean countries.
The meeting’s objectives are to hold focused dialogue on the review processes, negotiations, and next steps for the Caribbean region within fora that commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action which resulted from the historic Fourth World Conference on Women.
Speaker of the House of Assembly His Honour Arthur Holder (Barbados), Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, will offer welcoming remarks on behalf of ParlAmericas. The agenda also includes various other parliamentary interventions and inputs on priority gender equality issues for the region.
The outcomes of the meeting are expected to support the region’s alignment of political messaging and advocacy at the upcoming 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and ahead of various other important international and regional meetings on gender equality commitments. These will include activities associated with Generation Equality, a multigenerational initiative that will have various galvanizing moments throughout the year to address the unfinished objectives related to women’s empowerment in all spheres of life.
To follow and participate in this meeting virtually on ParlAmericas’ social media networks, please use #Beijing25Caribbean and #ParlAmericasGEN.
January 31, 2020
During the week of January 25-31, 2020, ParlAmericas participated in the XIV Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, a subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) that is convened at least triennially.
The Conference, on the theme of “Women’s Autonomy in Changing Economic Scenarios,” was hosted in the city of Santiago by the Government of Chile. It was attended by ministers and parliamentarians, government representatives, and experts and activists from across the region. The Conference served as a forum for assessing the situation of women’s autonomy and rights at the regional and subregional levels, presenting public policy recommendations for gender equality, and national reporting on the fulfillment of regional and international plans and agreements on the subject. This year’s Conference was particularly significant given the global review processes that are underway to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
A critical outcome of this meeting was the adoption of the Santiago Commitment, which acknowledges the achievements and progress made in the region over the last 25 years – as evidenced in the national reports submitted to ECLAC and UN Women. It also outlines government commitments to enact measures aimed at accelerating the effective implementation of the Beijing Platform and the Regional Gender Agenda.
Within the framework of the Conference, the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership organized an official side event titled “Investing in Women’s Leadership to Change Economic Scenarios: Lessons and Cooperation with the Private Sector.” The panellists included the Honourable Samantha Marshall, Minister responsible for gender affairs (Antigua and Barbuda); Carolina Cuevas Merino, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Women and Gender Equity (Chile); Cecilia Flores Castañón, President of Women CEO (Peru); Bridget Lewis, Co-founder of SheLeadsIt (Caribbean region); Johnny Méndez, Communications Manager at Medronic (Chile); and Liriola Leoteau de Ávila, women’s rights advocate (Panama).
The Task Force, of which ParlAmericas is an active member, additionally held an internal work-planning meeting on the margins of the Conference.
January 25, 2020
On January 23-24, 2020, Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, participated in the 11th Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Follow-up Commission of the Pacific Alliance (CISAP in Spanish), held in Santiago, Chile. On this occasion, parliamentary delegations from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico were in attendance, as well as former Minister and Member of Congress Ana María Choquehuanca (Peru).
During this CISAP gathering, delegates addressed issues of high priority in the region, such as migration and climate change. Delegates also discussed the political, economic and social situation in Latin America and the interest of member and associate countries of the Pacific Alliance in achieving human development in line with the region's expectations
Member of the National Assembly Cabezas noted, "spaces such as these allow us to accompany multilateral initiatives that help promote greater economic growth through cooperation and integration among the countries of our region. It also allows us to ratify, from the legislative branch, the mechanisms and regulations through which these cooperation agreements are fulfilled". Ms. Cabezas also emphasized ParlAmericas mission to strengthen democracy and governance in the hemisphere through cooperative political dialogue and good legislative practices.
Ms. Choquehuanca shared her experience in implementing the multi-party Green Caucus in the Congress of the Republic of Peru with the support of ParlAmericas. She explained how the foundation for the implementation of the caucus was laid, as well as its work commitments. She also reported on the commitment made by the Executive Branch to the Green Caucus to advance legislation related to climate change, environmental compensation areas, recovery of degraded forest ecosystems and the preservation of natural protected areas. Finally, she discussed the potential for replicating this initiative in other parliaments in the hemisphere.
For further information about the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow us on social media through @ParlAmericas.
January 2, 2020
ParlAmericas expresses its deep concern over the recent events in Venezuela related to the election of the executive body of the National Assembly.
Parliaments are fundamental institutions for democracy that guarantee the balance of State powers. Respecting the universal principle of popular sovereignty and the right to self-determination, ParlAmericas raises a respectful call for dialogue that incorporates the political pluralism of the country.
Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, stated, “We advocate for the recovery of dialogue between Venezuela’s political forces in a framework of full respect for freedoms and institutional mechanisms in search of a democratic and peaceful solution to the current situation in Venezuela.” She added that, "The rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed." ParlAmericas reaffirms its strong commitment to democracy and its will to support the strengthening of parliamentary institutions throughout the region.
December 13, 2019
A delegation of parliamentarians from the Executive Committee of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network on Climate Change (PNCC) participated in official sessions of the UN Climate Change Conference COP-25, in Madrid, Spain on December 2-13. The delegation was composed of Member of the National Assembly (Ecuador) Ana Belén Marín, President of the PNCC; Senator Rosa Galvez (Canada), Vice President of the PNCC for North America; and Member of the Legislative Assembly Paola Vega (Costa Rica), Vice President of the PNCC for Central America.
This year the chief objective of the COP was to raise overall ambition of all parties in preparation for the updating of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020. A common call from stakeholders, including the delegation’s parliamentarians, at the COP25 was to make NDCs more inclusive by creating them in consultation with diverse actors, and with consideration to human rights, gender equality and other social dimension of proposed climate solutions.
Senator Galvez contributed parliamentary perspectives through attendance of high-level side sessions and bilateral meetings. “We were able to engage on the most pressing issues humanity faces today and focus our attention on how to transform energy, transportation, food and agricultural systems.” Reflecting on the closing of the COP25, Senator Galvez concluded: “It is disappointing that countries could not come to an agreement on robust rules and financing mechanisms grounded in the respect for human rights and indigenous rights. The need to address the climate injustice suffered by island nations and many communities around the world already heavily impacted has never been more compelling. Still, this international set back only signals the need to engage deeper within our regions and communities. Legislators have unique responsibilities in helping raise the ambitions of their countries to foster the social dialogue necessary to address this urgent issue without furthering social divisions.”
ParlAmericas was represented by Member of the National Assembly (Ecuador) Ana Belén Marín in the Action Hub event, Voluntary Carbon Management Programs – A Contribution to Mitigation through the Carbon Markets, where she described the organization’s participation in the Climate Neutral Now initiative, and launched a new consultative Guide on Green Parliaments. Ms. Marin also provided a legislative perspective to the high-level panel, Just Transition towards an Inclusive Green Economy: A Driver for Ambitious Climate Action and SDGs. “We are here representing ParlAmericas, sharing our knowledge, but [also] learning about highly relevant topics such as a just transition […] how we can continue to build green economies, and [contribute] within our parliamentary spaces, policies that strengthen carbon neutrality”.
ParlAmericas was represented by Member of the Legislative Assembly Paola Vega (Costa Rica) during the official side session, Global Trends in Climate Legislation and Litigation: Enhancing Resilience and Adaptation, where she shared the Protocol on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation that ParlAmericas developed in collaboration with UNDRR. Ms. Vega also attended a Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of the COP, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, on December 10th that was held at the Congress of Deputies of Spain, where she showcased important work being advanced in the hemisphere on climate change and its linkages with gender equality and open parliament.
This delegation was made possible with support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. For further information on our climate change work, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow us on social media with the hashtag #ParlAmericasCC.
December 12, 2019
On the 5th and 6th of December, Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís Quirós (Costa Rica), member of the Board of Directors of ParlAmericas represented ParlAmericas in the second meeting of the Community of Practice for the Reliability of the Budget, organized by the International Budget Partnership (IBP), in Washington DC, United States of America. This meeting was attended by government, civil society and international organization representatives, who shared their knowledge regarding the budget, some of the issues that arise from the deviation from it, and the role of different actors of the society in order to collaborate ensuring compliance to the approved budget.
One of the key factors of the credibility of the budget, is the trust of the citizens in the priorities set within the budget. One of the major problems identified by the IBP, especially in countries with limited means, is the lack of execution of budgeted projects of economic and social development, due to diversions from the budget. ParlAmericas provided a legislative perspective in the discussions, taking in consideration the important role of the parliaments in the planning, implementation and control of the budgets.
Member of the Legislative Assembly Solís Quirós participated in the panel The Role of the Oversight Actors of the Budget and discussed about the role of the parliaments in different phases of the national budget, from its elaboration to its approval and the auditing phase of the expenses, emphasizing in the work of control conducted by the parliament demanding accountability.
Member of the Legislative Assembly María Inés Solís Quirós affirmed that “the lack of transparency in the accountability regarding the change of priorities generates skepticism and mistrust from the citizens in the undertaken commitments by the governments. For this reason, the parliaments have a significant role in the analysis, modification and control of the assignment of the budget in order to ensure that it is reliable and implemented in an effective way”.
In the same manner, member of the Legislative Assembly Solís Quirós presented the publication Strengthening the Accountability Through Fiscal Openness: A Tool Kit for Members of Parliament of the Americas and the Caribbean, elaborated by ParlAmericas in collaboration with the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) and the Global Institute of Fiscal Transparency (GIFT). This publication presents opportunities to improve transparency, accountability and citizen participation in the different phases of the budget that passes through the parliament, and highlights the constant collaboration with governmental institutions, civil society and other relevant actors.
The meeting concluded with a discussion about the following steps, which emphasized the importance of finding a better collaboration with different governmental acts of budget control, such as parliaments, which will be the strategical entities that will demand transparency and accountability from the government regarding the expenses of the budget.