Search
Close this search box.
Home NEWS

2024


May 10, 2024

Parliamentarians of the Americas and the Caribbean adopt a declaration to safeguard democracy and promote human rights

More than 50 parliamentarians from 20 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean adopted a declaration in defense of democracy and human rights during the 20th Plenary Assembly of ParlAmericas and the 8th Gathering of the Open Parliament Network. The joint meeting, organized by ParlAmericas and the Senate of the Congress of the Republic of Paraguay, took place from May 8-10, 2024, in Asunción, under the theme Building Partnerships to Strengthen Democracy and Promote Human Rights.

The declaration reflects the outcomes from the dialogues and working sessions held during the meeting. It highlights the commitment of parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean to democracy, human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law. Additionally, the declaration includes a series of commitments for parliamentary action in response to the growing challenges faced by democracy and human rights and underscores the role of parliaments in safeguarding democratic principles, promoting cooperative political dialogue, consensus-building, peaceful resolution of differences, and the maintenance of peace and security.

During the Plenary Assembly, elections were held for vacant subregional seats on the ParlAmericas Board of Directors. Chile and Peru were elected as representatives for South America; Panama, Guatemala and Belize as representatives for Central America; and Saint Lucia and Dominica as representatives for the Caribbean. In addition, for the Executive Committee of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, Member of the National Assembly Luzmila Abad (Ecuador) was elected Second Vice-President for South America, and the Honorable Leo Cato (Grenada), Speaker of the House of Representatives, was elected Vice-President for the Caribbean.

Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas and Host of the Gathering:

“As our dialogues over the past few days have demonstrated, substantive participation by legislators in hemispheric decision-making spaces is essential for strengthening our democracies, defending and promoting human rights, contributing to peacekeeping efforts, and building consensus—central principles of the Inter-American System.”


May 9, 2024

Launch of the children’s book Yerutí and the Superheroes of the Planet in the National Congress of the Republic of Paraguay

This morning, the storybook Yerutí and the Superheroes of the Planet was launched as part of the 20th ParlAmericas Plenary Assembly and the 8th Gathering of the Open Parliament Network. The children’s book was produced by ParlAmericas and the Senate of Paraguay, with the support of Paraguayan civil society organizations, to promote values such as respect, teamwork, responsibility, and listening to others, while reinforcing the importance of caring for the environment.

Yerutí and the Superheroes of the Planet introduces children to concepts about climate change in an accessible format, not only promoting learning, but also inspiring readers to take action while fostering key values such as respect, collaboration, social leadership, and environmental awareness. It is also a story of growth and empowerment in which the protagonists discover that leadership can take many forms that are all valuable and needed, and that teamwork and family and multigenerational support are key to turning their ideas into action.

The book launch, held in the National Congress of the Republic of Paraguay, included remarks by Senator Blanca Ovelar, President of ParlAmericas, and Norma Marecos, Advisor to Senator Blanca Ovelar and expert on education.

Yerutí and the Superheroes of the Planet was illustrated by Paraguayan artist Sofi Amarilla Heyn, with design by Eynar Becerra. This is the fourth children’s book produced by ParlAmericas in partnership with member parliaments and allied civil society organizations and was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

As with the previous storybooks, it includes a learning guide with reflections and questions to complement its reading. 


May 7, 2024

Parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean to meet in Asunción, Paraguay, to discuss democracy and human rights

More than 50 parliamentarians from 21 countries of the Americas and the Caribbean will convene for the 20th ParlAmericas Plenary Assembly and 8th Gathering of the Open Parliament Network. The joint meeting, organized by ParlAmericas and the Chamber of Senators of the Congress of the Republic of Paraguay, will be held on May 8, 9, and 10, 2024, in Asunción, and will be focused on the theme Building Partnerships to Strengthen Democracy and Promote Human Rights.

During the gathering, parliamentarians will discuss the state of democracy along with representatives of international organizations, civil society, academia, and youth leaders. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss the critical role parliaments play in fostering active democracies, promoting human rights, maintaining peace, building consensus, promoting inclusive policies, and pursuing social justice.

The meeting will open with welcoming remarks from Senator Silvio Ovelar (Paraguay), President of the National Congress; Senator Javier Macaya Danús (Chile), ParlAmericas Second Vice-President and President of the Open Parliament Network; Member of the Chamber of Deputies Raúl Luis Latorre (Paraguay), President of the Chamber of Deputies; and Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas.

The main session will focus on “Human Rights and Democracy: Challenges for the Future” and feature the participation of Marta Lagos, Director and Founder of the Latinobarometer Corporation, and Dr. Rosina Wiltshire, international development and human rights specialist. This session will cover approaches to the main challenges related to democracy and human rights, considering the role of parliaments and their opportunities for action that facilitates democratic consolidation. It will set the context for the rest of the sessions that will take place over the course of the gathering.

Quotes

Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas

“ParlAmericas has convened parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean to respond to the call of history that requires us, in the midst of a particularly complex and sensitive juncture, to assert the critical role that parliaments play in the unceasing construction of active democracies, in the defence of human rights, in the maintenance of peace, in consensus building, in the promotion of inclusive policies, and in the pursuit of social justice.”

Senator Javier Macaya Danús (Chile), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network

“It is crucial to strengthen the role of the democratic system, especially in its respect for human rights. This not only contributes to public legitimacy but also strengthens the foundations on which individual and collective freedoms are built. In this respect, parliaments have a fundamental role to play as defenders of democratic principles and fundamental rights.”


April 17, 2024

ParlAmericas participated in ‘Global Innovations in Democracy: Parliamentary Exchange’ event in Washington, D.C.

This week Alisha Todd, Director General of ParlAmericas, participated in the Global Innovations in Democracy (GID): Parliamentary Exchange series of events which took place on April 15-17, 2024, in Washington, D.C. She served as moderator for one of the parliamentary exchange sessions held at the U.S. Congress.

Established in 2022, GID is led by the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) at The Ohio State University, the Center for Democracy Innovation at the National Civic League, and the Centre for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. The event was organized to serve as a global platform for legislators to explore innovative methods and tools for gathering input, overcoming divisions, building trust, and gaining public support for public policy.

Accompanied by discussant Sanna Lepola, Director-General for Parliamentary Democracy Partnerships, European Parliament, Ms. Todd led the session titled “Why Do We Need to Innovate and Expand Our Definitions of Constituent Engagement?” This session examined the need to modernize how legislators around the world engage with citizens and the benefits of doing so, identified some of the shared challenges and limitations of traditional constituent outreach and participation, and explored global trends that could lead to more effective and inclusive engagement strategies.

This year’s GID featured an array of interactive sessions and panel discussions designed to foster direct interaction between parliamentarians from around the world. It facilitated the sharing of best practices for engaging constituents and connected parliamentarians with innovative practitioners and scholars in the democracy-strengthening community.


March 22, 2024

ParlAmericas Digital Caucus holds second dialogue session on artificial intelligence

Parliamentarians from across the Americas and the Caribbean met virtually today for a dialogue focused on The Future of Work and Labour Rights: Challenges and Opportunities of Artificial Intelligence. Today’s session marked the second meeting in a series of dialogue sessions related to artificial intelligence organized by the ParlAmericas Digital Caucus, a working group connected to the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network. 

Senator Kenneth Pugh (Chile), Co-Chair of the Digital Caucus of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, chaired the meeting and moderated a panel with subject-matter experts from the International Labour Union (ILO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). Their presentations addressed the impacts of A.I. on job quantity and quality and the importance of analysing these effects from an intersectional perspective during this time of accelerated digital transformation. This was followed by an open exchange among parliamentarians with interventions that highlighted the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence for the labour market across various national contexts. 

Participants were welcomed to today’s meeting by Senator Javier Macaya (Chile), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network and Senator Lisa Jawahir (Saint Lucia), Vice-President for the Caribbean of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality. Both speakers stressed the role of parliamentary work in artificial intelligence governance and the value of collaborative spaces, such as those organized by the ParlAmericas Digital Caucus, to advance good practices in the region. 

Quote
Senator Kenneth Pugh (Chile), Co-Chair of the Digital Caucus of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network
As we witness more national parliaments placing the issue of artificial intelligence onto their legislative agendas, the work of the ParlAmericas Digital Caucus will continue to facilitate the exchange of good parliamentary practices so that we can learn from one another and coordinate regional action that responds to the needs and priorities of our citizens.”

Quote
Senator Javier Macaya Danús (Chile), President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network
“The implementation of artificial intelligence has many advantages, but it also raises important ethical and legal issues. As parliamentarians, it is essential that we work to ensure that the adoption of artificial intelligence is carried out in a fair and transparent manner, protecting the rights of workers and promoting equal opportunities for all people.”

Quote
S
enator Lisa Jawahir (Saint Lucia), Vice-President for the Caribbean of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality
“If we are not consciously considering diverse realities as we navigate the complexities of artificial intelligence – particularly as these advances relate to gender – we risk further entrenching inequality. However, if we focus on inclusion and equality within our decision-making, we can harness the positive, transformative benefits of these technologies for all.”


March 14, 2024

ParlAmericas proposal for enhanced engagement with the OAS welcomed by Member States

Today, at the headquarters of the Organization of American States, a ParlAmericas parliamentary delegation participated in the Joint Special Meeting with the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs and the Committee on Inter-American Summits Management and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities (CISC) on the topic of Legislative Cooperation. During the Joint Special Meeting, ParlAmericas put forth a proposal to serve as a roadmap for continued enhanced parliamentary engagement with the OAS that was embraced by all Member States.

Twenty-two parliamentarians representing 17 national legislatures from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada participated in the three-day delegation to Washington, D.C., which concluded with the Special Joint Meeting. It included speakers of parliaments from the region and various members of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors and Network Executive Committees. The delegation was led by Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas.

In advance of the Special Joint Meeting, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, submitted a letter welcoming ParlAmericas’ proposal as a foundation for advancing parliamentary participation in the OAS in the immediate future, recognizing the ideas outlined in the proposal as starting points for realizing their vision articulated in the OAS Legislative Engagement Act.

Earlier in the week, the ParlAmericas delegation had a productive meeting with the senators about ways to build upon ParlAmericas’ institutional integration with the OAS.

The program for the delegation also included an exchange with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro on the state of democracy in the region. The Secretary General reaffirmed ParlAmericas’ role as the permanent inter-parliamentary organization in the Inter-American System.

During their time in Washington, D.C., the delegation also held dialogues with officials from different OAS Executive Secretariats, bilateral meetings with representatives from the United States Congress, and a panel with Washington-based partners: the United States Congress House Democracy Partnership (HDP), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

The program provided parliamentarians with an opportunity to learn more about the work of the OAS and discuss issues of shared interest being prioritized by regional stakeholders, namely security and transnational crime, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality and human rights, migration, climate change, and economic development. The delegation was further an opportunity to optimize parliamentary participation at the OAS through ParlAmericas, and to action ParlAmericas’ reaffirmed mandate to foster the participation of parliamentarians as an integral part of the Summits of the Americas process. A resounding conclusion of the delegation was the affirmation that parliamentary diplomacy serves as an important safeguard for democracy in the hemisphere.

Members of the delegation

Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas
The Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George (Trinidad and Tobago), Speaker of the House of Representatives and Vice-President of ParlAmericas
Senator Verónica Noemí Camino Farjat (Mexico), Second Vice-President of ParlAmericas
Senator Javier Macaya Danús (Chile), Second Vice-President of ParlAmericas
Member of the Chamber of Deputies Margarita Stolbizer (Argentina)
His Honour Arthur E. Holder (Barbados), Speaker of the House of Assembly
The Honourable Carolyn Trench Sandiford (Belize), President of the Senate
Senator Peter Boehm (Canada)
Member of Parliament Anthony Rota (Canada)
Senator Germán Blanco Álvarez (Colombia)
Member of the Legislative Assembly Carolina Delgado Ramírez (Costa Rica)
The Honourable Joseph T. Isaac (Dominica), Speaker of the House of Assembly
Ricardo de los Santos Polancos (Dominican Republic), President of the Senate
Member of the Chamber of Deputies Nelsa Shoraya Suárez Ariza (Dominican Republic)
Senator Carlos Manuel Gómez Ureña (Dominican Republic)
Senator José del Castillo Saviñon (Dominican Republic)
Henry Kronfle (Ecuador), Speaker of the National Assembly
Member of Congress Andrea Villagrán Antón (Guatemala)
Member of Congress Yessica Rosselli Amuruz Dulanto (Peru)
The Honourable Alvina Reynolds (Saint Lucia), President of the Senate
The Honourable Marinus Bee (Suriname), Speaker of the National Assembly


March 13, 2024

Meeting of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Climate Change and Sustainability focused on research strategies to inform evidence-based climate action

Parliamentary staff from across the Americas and the Caribbean met virtually for a working meeting of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Climate Change and Sustainability (PNCCS-Staff). The meeting, which had additional participation from international climate experts, facilitated peer-to-peer exchange on how to effectively integrate complex environmental information within legislative spaces. 

Opening remarks were provided by Frédéric Forge (Canada), Senior Director of the International Affairs and Integrated Reference Services Division of the Library of Parliament and General Coordinator of the PNCC-Staff. This was followed by an expert-led panel discussing the key findings from the Sixth Assessment Cycle of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and recommendations for how to use scientific data in the creation of climate policies and laws, including how to incorporate a gender and human rights lens. Moderated by Brian B. Caesar (Trinidad and Tobago), Clerk of the House of Representatives and Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean of the PNCCS-Staff, the panel included presentations from the following individuals:

Following this, participants engaged in an open dialogue moderated by Jatziri Pando Medina (Mexico), Technical Secretary of the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee, Senate of the Republic and Regional Coordinator for North America of the PNCCS-Staff. This dialogue allowed parliamentary staffers to exchange on their own experiences accessing, analyzing, and sharing comparative data related to environmental topics, as well as gain exposure to new practices and tools used in other parliaments. 

The meeting also marked the official launch of the updated ParlAmericas publication, “Navigating Online Information: Tips & Tricks for Parliamentary Research.”This resource, along with ParlAmericas’ recently updated environmental repository, “Mapping Environmental Strategies and Sustainability Initiatives,” were shared as additional reference tools to ensure gender disaggregated data and other social variables are considered in research to support parliamentary work on climate and sustainability.  

Quote

Frédéric Forge (Canada), Senior Director of the International Affairs and Integrated Reference Services Division of the Library of Parliament and General Coordinator of the PNCC-Staff 

“The ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Climate Change and Sustainability is committed to supporting parliamentary staff in their efforts to remain up-to-date on the various complex environmental issues afflicting the region, as well as exploring the innovative solutions to address them through evidence-based legislative initiatives.”


March 7, 2024

ParlAmericas statement on the situation in Haiti

ParlAmericas expresses grave concern with the ongoing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Haiti.

ParlAmericas strongly condemns the ongoing violence that is being perpetrated by criminal gangs against the Haitian people. These include killings, abductions and sexual violence that have been continuously documented by the United Nations and by the Haitian press and civil society. The breakout of two prisons in Port-au-Prince earlier this week by criminal gangs, and their attempts to seize the capital’s airport, add to a list of attacks on other state institutions and infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, police stations and court buildings. These affronts to human dignity and the country’s rule of law subvert conditions for the country to respond to the population’s basic needs and restore constitutional order.

Haiti has been without an elected parliament since January 9, 2023 following the expiration of the mandates of its ten remaining senators at that time.

In the face of this humanitarian crisis, ParlAmericas continues to encourage efforts by the international community to work alongside the Haitian people for the pursuit of peace, stability and democratic solutions.


March 5, 2024

Forums of Women in Political Parties meet to discuss women’s political participation and leadership

Within the framework of activities to commemorate International Women’s Day and as a follow-up to the First Regional Gathering of Forums of Women in Political Parties held in August 2023 in San José, Costa Rica, more than 80 representatives from six Forums of Women in Political Parties from five countries in the region gathered today for a virtual dialogue on the challenges and opportunities related to women’s political participation and leadership.

The session began with opening remarks by Senator Verónica Noemí Camino Farjat (Mexico), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality. This was followed by a panel discussion, moderated by Member of Congress Andrea Villagrán (Guatemala), Second Vice-President for Central America of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality. The panel featured Luz Patricia Mejía, Technical Secretary of the Follow-up Mechanism to the Belém do Pará Convention (MESECVI) of the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States, and Marcela Durrieu, former parliamentarian and founder of the collective Ojo Paritario, who discussed challenges and opportunities related to implementing regional standards to address gender-based political violence and promoting the principle of parity.

Afterwards, participants representing the Forums of Women in Political Parties were invited to share strategies and best practices on eliminating gender-based political violence and promoting women’s political participation in electoral and decision-making processes through an open dialogue moderated by Member of the Legislative Assembly Carolina Delgado (Costa Rica), President of the Special Standing Committee on Women, President of the Front of Women in Political Parties of Costa Rica, and Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors. The meeting concluded with closing remarks by Members of the National Assembly Karla Núñez (Nicaragua) and Shaira Downs (Nicaragua), as well as Member of the National Assembly Arling Alonso (Nicaragua), Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors.

Quote
Senator Verónica Noemí Camino Farjat (Mexico), President of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality
“These initiatives are founded on the value of sisterhood among women politicians as a necessary quality to build on what has already been built in order to make progress on the road to equality based on the achievements of the many activists who, with great effort, have carved a path towards gender equality and the recognition of women’s political rights.”

Quote
Member of the Legislative Assembly Carolina Delgado (Costa Rica), President of the Front of Women in Political Parties of Costa Rica and Member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors
“Forums and Fronts of Women in Political Parties should be seen as safe spaces for sharing experiences and good practices at the party level, institutionalizing mechanisms to promote equality and respect for women’s political rights in order to achieve significant changes within parties.”


January 25, 2024

ParlAmericas participated in the 2024 Caribbean Clerks Programme organized by The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch

Today marked the close of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch (CPA UK)’s 2024 Caribbean Clerks Programme, a virtual two-day programme for clerks and parliamentary staff in the Caribbean region to share experiences and exchange good practices.

The first day of the programme focused on the role parliamentary officials play in the effective operation of committees, as well as the importance of fostering opportunities for their professional development. ParlAmericas representatives Beverly Gibbons (Barbados), Deputy Clerk, Parliament of Barbados and Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Open Parliament, as well as Chrisette Benjamin, ParlAmericas Program Officer – Gender Equality, provided closing remarks and reiterated the foundational work of parliamentary staff and the value of intra-regional cooperation. Ms. Gibbons also spoke to the work of the ParlAmericas Staff Networks on Open Parliament, Gender Equality, and Climate Change and Sustainability in facilitating additional peer-to-peer exchanges on these specific themes.

On the second day of the programme, Eilish Elliott, ParlAmericas Project Manager – Gender Equality, participated as a panellist during a discussion on public outreach and youth engagement practices in parliament. Ms. Elliott provided an overview of ParlAmericas’ programming with parliaments to engage young people in parliamentary processes and the importance of incorporating equality and inclusion considerations within these outreach initiatives. Other panellists in this session included the Honourable Alincia Williams Grant (Antigua and Barbuda), President of the Senate, and Billy Helm (United Kingdom), Senior Engagement Officer, UK House of Commons.