28 Jun 2019, 15.06

On Sunday June 30 the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) the global organisation of national parliaments celebrates its 130th anniversary.

The IPU holds two general assemblies each year which bring together parliamentarians from around the globe. The Houses of the Oireachtas participates in these assemblies and the Irish delegation is usually led by the Ceann Comhairle or the Cathaoirleach.

Already this year, in February, the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Senator Denis O’Donovan, led a delegation from the Houses of the Oireachtas at the IPU hearing at the United Nations in New York.  A Houses of the Oireachtas delegation, led by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher, also participated at the most recent IPU Assembly in Doha in April.


  • fosters contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries
  • considers questions of international interest and concern and expresses its views on such issues in order to bring about action by parliaments and parliamentarians
  • contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights - an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development
  • contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action

What began in 1889 as a small group of parliamentarians, dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue, has since grown.

By the end of this year, IPU membership will inch closer to being universal - consisting of 180 national parliaments, 12 supranational parliamentary bodies, and increasing numbers of parliamentarians who attend its meetings.

"Democracy, human rights, multilateralism and the rule of law are being increasingly threatened in our world today. It is therefore urgent to take the lead and redefine our institutions, to put them at the service of the people we represent," said IPU President Gabriela Cuevas Barron

“The IPU is determined to bolster parliamentary diplomacy as the main driver of political dialogue for peace and development and so contribute to the reinforcement of democracy worldwide. Democracy can work only if parliaments are effective, dynamic and transparent and add up to the well-being of all people, especially women and youth. That’s why the IPU today, 130 years after its creation, is needed more than ever before."

Under the umbrella slogan of "130 years of empowering parliamentarians", the IPU will celebrate its anniversary in a number of ways. On Sunday the Presidents of the most recent and future IPU Assemblies will meet in a "Quintet" of current IPU leadership. The Speakers and IPU leadership will discuss the ongoing relevance of the founding values and principles of the IPU 130 years on, results achieved at the previous Assemblies, and actions ahead.

“The IPU has stood the test of time, constantly expanding over 13 decades and adapting to face the challenges of the world,” said IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong. “However, despite our growth, we have never lost sight of the principles of our founders – the importance of an open forum for parliamentary dialogue and diplomacy to resolve differences and help build bridges between nations.”

The IPU Member Parliaments around the world will celebrate the anniversary. Emphasizing the IPU’s strong relationship with the United Nations, an exhibition titled 1889-2019: Celebrating 130 years of the IPU will be shown at the United Nations Office in Geneva, from 24 June to 12 July and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 20 June to 20 July.

Since it began its regional seminars on the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the IPU has mobilized almost half the world’s parliaments to take action on, for example, climate change and better health for all.

130 years after its creation, the IPU still provides a unique global space for parliamentary diplomacy by bringing opposing sides around the table; for example, East and West during the Cold War, the Middle East, North and South Korea.

The Houses of the Oireachtas is proud to be at the heart of this Inter-Parliamentary Union, as the Houses of the Oireachtas celebrates one hundred years since the first meeting of Dáil Éireann, through Dáil 100, with a series of commemorations running until the end of 2019.

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Alan Neary
Houses of the Oireachtas
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