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Evaluating the Activities of International Parliamentary Assemblies andInterparliamentary RelationsSpeech by Bernard Accoyer at the G8 meeting in Ottawa
Dear Speakers of the Lower Houses,As I am the first to give a speech, on behalf of all my colleagues, I would like to begin by thanking the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, the Honourable Peter Milliken, for welcoming us here today.I would also like to thank him for agreeing to add, at my suggestion, the topic of evaluating the activities of international parliamentary assemblies andinterparliamentary relations to the agenda for the G8 parliamentary meeting. He also proposed that I be the one to introduce the discussion on this topic.
“Nothing that affects the relations between peoples can be prepared in the commotionof a deliberative assembly.”
This statement was made in a judgment in 1902. It makesclear the idea that Parliaments are inherently incompatible with international relations.Strangely enough, what gave this judgment credence at the time was that it waswritten by a proponent of parliamentary rights, Eugène Pierre, Secretary-General of the French Chamber of Deputies and author of
Traité de droit politique, électoral et parlementaire
, which was used as a reference for many years.Today, who would dare to make such a statement? But the idea persists that, indiplomatic matters, Parliament is a greater source of confusion and indiscretion than of useful initiatives. In the face of these extreme criticisms, I would like to defendParliament’s role as an actor in international relations, alongside the executive. Howcan it be otherwise when new actors such as NGOs, businesses and media networks,with neither the legitimacy nor the representativeness of Parliaments, are appearingand being recognized on the international scene?The executive no longer has the monopoly on relations, contact and dialogue withforeign countries. Yet all social, economic, security and environmental issues have aninternational component. In this age of rapid globalization, there are fewer and fewer strictly domestic affairs. Parliamentarians cannot fulfill their mandate if they are notconcerned with what is going on beyond their country’s borders.