When was IPA CIS established?
The Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (IPA CIS) was created on 27 March 1992 in Alma-Aty (Republic of Kazakhstan) under the terms of the Agreement signed by Heads of founding parliaments. In 1995, the session of the Council of the CIS Heads of State held in Minsk, Belarus consolidated the status of IPA CIS as a fully-fledged international organization. On 26 May 1995 CIS leaders signed the Convention on the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States eventually ratified by nine CIS parliaments. Under the terms of the Convention, the IPA CIS was invested with international legitimacy. The HQ is housed in the Tavricheskiy Palace, a historical landmark of St Petersburg.
Who is sitting in the IPA CIS?
The Interparliamentary Assembly consists of national parliamentary delegations. A Parliamentary Delegation consists of representatives of a Member Nation elected or appointed by the Parliament of a Member Nation Party to the IPA CIS Convention fr om among their members and in compliance with respective internal regulations. A parliamentary delegation is led by the Head of parliamentary delegation. IPA CIS Council is responsible for the organization of work of the Assembly. The Council is presided over by the Chairperson. On 11 November 2011, the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko has been elected to hold the office of the Chairperson of the IPA CIS Council.
What is the mission of the IPA CIS?
The overarching mission is law-making and alignment of national laws in the CIS.
IPA CIS also:
- Deliberates issues related to the cooperation of Member Nations on a broad spectrum and offers relevant guidance to the Council of the CIS Heads of State/Heads of Government or other CIS bodies and parliaments, as appropriate;
- Deliberates issues allocated to it by the Council of the CIS Heads of State/Heads of Government and drafts relevant recommendations for the Council of the CIS Heads of State/Heads of Government and other CIS institutions;
- Adopts recommendations facilitating consolidation of national laws in the CIS;
- Adopts model legislation and transmits them with relevant guidelines to the parliaments of States Parties to the IPA CIS Convention;
- Adopts recommendations on the compliance of national legislation with effective inter-CIS instruments;
- Facilitates information exchanges on legal matters among Member;
- Deliberates other issues related to parliamentary cooperation
The economic dimension
Formulation of legal foundations of a common economic area in the CIS, and in particular legal support of the free trade zone, is the priority of model law-making in the IPA CIS on the economic track. The transition of Commonwealth Nations to the market economy was facilitated by a number of model legislative acts, including the three parts of the Model Civil Code, the General Provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Provisions on Investor Protection in the Trade of Securities, model law on Free Economic Zones, Electronic Signature, Securities Exchange and others.
In 2003, the Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine signed the Agreement on the Single Economic Area. Already in 2004, the Tavricheskiy Palace hosted an international symposium Single Economic Area: Legislative Support of Consolidation. Its outcome was an Appeal to the Parliaments and Governments of States Signatories of the Agreement on the Single Economic Area signed by Speakers of national parliaments of States Signatories of the Agreement stating not only the intention to establish a dedicated parliamentary platform for the SEA within the IPA CIS, but also an obligation of simultaneous ratification of the SEA Agreement by the four parliaments involved.
Parliamentary Assembly of the CSTO
IPA CIS effectively assists the work of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. In 1992, IPA CIS delegations of States Parties to the Collective Security Treaty deliberated issues related to security cooperation. On 16 December 2006, the Treaty was institutionalized into the Collective Security Treaty Organization with its own parliamentary framework, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CSTO which also sits in St Petersburg and has close ties with the IPA CIS. On 17 May 2012, Speaker of the State Douma Sergey Naryshkin has been appointed to the chairmanship of the PA CSTO.
Peacemaking was and indeed still is one of the most important lines of activity of the IPA CIS. It includes the development of legal framework for involvement in the settlement of regional conflicts and direct on-the-ground-peacemaking initiatives in the Commonwealth countries. The most significant practical outcome was the Bishkek Protocol signed in May 1994, which is in fact the only political document providing for the cease-fire in Nagorny Karabakh. The experience of the IPA CIS during that period was unique in the practice of parliamentary diplomacy. Usually, members of parliament do not participate in the negotiating process, which is the province of public diplomacy and governments. Parlamentarians’ mandate is limited to the creation of favorable political environment. However, IPA CIS representatives did engage in conciliation under the mandate of the conflicting parties and the Council of Heads of State. In its Statement on the Conflict in and around Nagorny Karabakh of 15 April 1994 the Council of Heads of State welcomed the conciliatory mission of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly.
The IPA CIS peacemaking missions were also active in the settlement of conflicts in Transdniestria, Moldova in 1994 and Abkhazia, Georgia in 1995. Members of these missions visited areas of conflict on a regular basis organizing seminars and trying to engage the conflicting parties. On 5-6 September 1995, the Tavricheskiy Palace hosted the first meeting of Heads of Parliament of the Azerbaijan Republic, the Republic of Armenia, Georgia and the Russian Federation. The parties issued a statement “Towards Peace and Stability in the Caucasus” calling on all conflicting parties to refrain from military action and confrontation, work together to reestablish economic communication and create conditions for the safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. To help solve the most contentious issues in the Caucasus, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly established the mechanism of the “Caucasian Chetvorka”, a forum for meetings of Heads of Parliament of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Russia.
The CIS Interparliamentary Assembly does not lim it its peacemaking to the Eurasian region. Members of parliament made their position clear on the expansion of NATO to the East (1996) as posing a threat to world stability, NATO military action against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1999), on the political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan (1996), and on other conflict situations in the world. In 2004 when extremist elements provoked a spike in ethnically-motivated violence in Kosovo and thousands of civilians suffered as a result, the Council of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly decided to send a fact-finding mission to Kosovo and Metohija to study the events on the ground. The representatives of the IPA CIS have relayed their findings to partner parliamentary organizations, including of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Situation in Kosovo was included as a supplementary item in the PA CE agenda. On 29 April 2004 PA CE passed Resolution 1375 “Situation in Kosovo” fully endorsing the findings of the IPA CIS mission.
Combating international terrorism
The IPA CIS is pursuing another line of action, that of countering all forms of terrorism. IPA CIS representatives monitor terrorist-prone areas on a continuous basis: on the Northern Slope of the Caucasus in the Russian Federation, in Kyrgyzstan, in Tajikistan. However, the central contribution of the IPA CIS in countering international terrorism in the Commonwealth is in the legal support of antiterrorist activities, of cooperation between the CIS national security enforcement authorities and special services. The cornerstone of this cooperation is the Agreement between the IPA CIS Council and the Council of Heads of National Security Enforcement Agencies and Special Services of the CIS Member Nations. This cooperation led to the adoption in 1997 of a model law on “Countering Terrorism” later to become a basis for the Treaty on Cooperation between the CIS Member Nations against Terrorism”. This is a good example of how some IPA CIS model laws give rise to international or intergovernmental instruments which are binding for the CIS Member Nations.
The significance of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly in finding consensus-based approaches toward social policies, promoting respect for human rights and freedoms and humanitarian cooperation is increasing every year. Adoption of the Charter of Social Rights and Safeguards of Citizens of the CIS Member Nations and a number of model laws and recommendations for the protection of children and social protection of population against adverse effects of market economy. Moreover, the IPA CIS facilitates integrational cooperation in the protection of environment and builds a coherent legislative framework against crime and corruption in the Commonwealth.
Monitoring of elections
Another important mission of the IPA CIS is election monitoring. Members of the CIS parliaments invested with the status of international observers monitor electoral processes in the CIS on the invitation of State Member Nations concerned and international organizations. Together with experts, they analyze the state of election laws, make findings, record progress and downsides. Monitoring is organized by the International Institute for Monitoring Democratic and Parliamentary Process and Suffrage in the CIS (IPA CIS IIMDP). It was established by the decision of the IPA CIS Council of 10 February 2006 at its ex-situ session in the Ukraine.
The mission of the Institute includes:
- Exchange of information on human rights
- Compilation of best practices
- Election monitoring in the CIS and beyond
- Training of international observers
In 1994 – 2013, the IPA CIS sent 90 teams of international observers and held 9 dedicated conferences. Today, the IIMDP is an established international institution monitoring elections in the CIS.