the Conference slated for 22 to 29 September 2019, will be held at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort under the theme, “Adaption, engagement and evolution of Parliaments in a rapidly changing Commonwealth”.
Uganda is once again bracing itself for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, exactly 52 years after it first played host for the global event.
This will be the 64th CPC. Regarded as one of the largest annual gatherings of Commonwealth Parliamentarians, Uganda first hosted the conference in 1967, just five years after attaining independence from the British colonial government.
Unlike the last time, the Conference slated for 22 to 29 September 2019, will be held at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort under the theme, “Adaption, engagement and evolution of Parliaments in a rapidly changing Commonwealth”.
According to the organizers over 1,000 are expected to attend the event and they will include Members of Parliament, Clerks of Parliament, Staff of Parliament, Speakers of Parliament and their accompanying persons of the Commonwealth Country.
The conference topics will focus on the following issues: climate change, innovations in parliaments, facilitation for Persons with a disability, youth round table, CPA Lecture, urbanization, sexual harassment, separation of powers (checks and balances), post-legislative scrutiny, and CPA Benchmarks for democratic legislatures.
Already the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Akbar Khan has given a green light. Assessing the progress of the preparations in June, Khan said he was impressed by Uganda’s readiness to host the conference.
“The planning looks very positive and all we need is to ensure that that people with disabilities are well taken care of,” he noted, adding that, “We need to make sure we set the bar for the next meeting,” he said.
What is CPC?
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) was founded in 1911 as the Empire Parliamentary Association and was run in the United Kingdom.
Originally, it comprised Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. However, in 1948, it changed the name, a plan that saw the coming on board of most Commonwealth countries. Fifty-three countries currently make up the British Commonwealth countries.
It is headed by Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth. But the position of Vice-Patron keeps changing as it’s only reserved for the Head of State or Government of the CPA Branch hosting the plenary conference.
This year, President Yoweri Museveni was appointed deputy patron by the Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association who is also the Deputy Speaker of the Cameroon National Assembly, Emilia Monjowa Lifaka.
According to a communiqué from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, now in its 108th year, the Association exists to develop, promote and support Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth.
“With the ever-increasing focus on greater scrutiny of parliamentarians and the overall public trust deficit in parliaments, the CPA’s annual conference offers the opportunity for members to benefit from professional development, supportive learning and the sharing of best practice with colleagues from Commonwealth parliaments together with the participation of leading international organizations,” reads the communiqué.
Global political issues and developments in the parliamentary system are analysed in conference debates among leading Parliamentarians representing Parliaments and Legislatures throughout the Commonwealth.
According to the Uganda Branch Representative for CPA Africa Region and also Vice Chairperson of the Organizing Committee Jalia Bintu, one of the key purposes of the CPC is to foster diplomatic relations, best practice in accountability and good governance.
Bintu says that during the various meetings, delegates will challenge one another on different issues and find workable solutions, for the benefit of the citizens.
“Ultimately, this brings benefits of better governance, freedom, stability and social development to the nations, including Uganda. Host governments have the chance to highlight particular issues they would like the Commonwealth’s support on. For instance, highlighting the huge refugee burden that Uganda carries could spur action from member states in the form of humanitarian aid or putting pressure on leaders of destabilized states to work for peace,” she says.
Apart from the main conference, the communiqué states that there will also be a number of additional conferences and meetings including 37th CPA Small Branches Conference; 6th triennial Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference; 64th CPA General Assembly; meetings of the CPA Executive Committee; and the Society of Clerks at the Table (SOCATT) meetings.
This year, the conference will hold elections for the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), the CPA Treasurer and the CPA Small Branches Chairperson for new three-year terms.
The conference programme will include conference plenaries and ten workshops for Parliamentarians, with some workshops focusing on gender, youth, and the CPA’s Small Branches.