124th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly held in Panama
All newspapers in Panama report on the 124th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, held in Panama-City from 15 till 20 April. More than 800 parliamentarians from 120 countries participate in the event, which brings the total amount of parliamentarians, observers and invitees coming to the ATLAPA Convention Center to around 1,500.
The 124th IPU Assembly was inaugurated by President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, in a ceremony attended as well by Joseph Deiss, President of the United Nations General Assembly, and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women. Dorindo Cortez, President of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), was denied participation as the Panamanian government no longer recognizes the representatives of PARLACEN. In November last year Panama officially withdrew from the Central American forum.
Wigberto Quintero, Secretary-General of the National Assembly of Panama and chairman of the organizing committee, stated that the Association of Secretaries General would meet in parallel with the 124th IPU Assembly. The key issues debated at the plenary session would be the earthquake in Japan and its impact on Asia. At the same time various commissions would debate issues such as peace and security, sustainable development, democracy, human rights and transparency and other topics.
Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, stressed the importance of leadership and political participation of women. Bachelet met with Ricardo Martinelli and several women leaders working in different sectors. Joseph Deiss met with President Martinelli and Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Varela. The officials discussed the presence of the United Nations in Panama, which is home to a regional hub of the organization. Elias Castillo, President of the Latin-American Parliament (Parlatino), stated that Latin-American countries should devote more resources to education and health, as part of their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).