- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
SIXTY parliamentarians from legislatures as far afield as Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, St Helena and Malta are in Cardiff this week for a key Commonwealth conference.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)’s British Isles & Mediterranean Region (BIMR) conference will be hosted at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff Bay on 28 and 29 May. It is the first time Wales has hosted the event since 2002.
The conference will also be attended by CPA international observers from Canada, Australia, the Caribbean and Africa, giving the event a truly international mix of views and approaches to parliamentary democracy.
Joyce Watson AM, chair of the CPA Wales Branch explains the conference’s theme, “Equality of Access to Democracy”:
“Last week the news was dominated by the European Election. However, it is not the only international game in town.
“No, I am not referring to the rugby Heineken Cup Final between Toulon and Saracens at the Millennium Stadium. And I do not mean Gareth Bale’s crucial goal for Real Madrid in the Cup final of football’s European competition.
“This week Wales hosts the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The international body brings together representatives from across the world to promote democracy and human rights.
“Wales has one of the youngest legislatures in the world and the Welsh Assembly is one of the most gender balanced parliaments in existence. Not only that, but the Assembly operates bilingually, is high tech and has a legislative building that leads the way in sustainable design. Tourists come from all over the world to look at the way we do things.
“Those characteristics are what the delegates want to talk about and make up the agenda of many of this week’s meetings. Not that we in Wales are complacent. We can learn from how other countries involve ethnic minorities in deliberations and appeal to young people, for example.
“Wales is an ancient country with a proud history. However, I was struck, as I looked at the delegates’ programme of activities, by how many of the visits arranged for our visitors were to places that have been established in comparatively recent years. They will be taken to the Wales Millennium Centre, BBC’s Dr Who Experience, Saint Ffagan’s Museum and the Millennium Stadium.
“Wales thrives on its relationships with other countries. But it’s two-way. We have much that we can show other nations. There is still a welcome in the hillsides. But what we take our visitors to see does not stand still.”
Wales is one of 13 Branches which form the BIMR. The other Branches are: Alderney, Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malta, Northern Ireland, St Helena, Scotland and the United Kingdom.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was established as the Empire Parliamentary Association in 1911. It comprises 69 Branches across nine regions: Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; India; Pacific, and South-East Asia. The organisation works to support good governance, democracy and human rights.
Joyce Watson is Labour Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales.
For more details about the BIMR click here. [Opens in a new browser window]
Or follow #BIMR2014 on Twitter.