Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Rt. Hon Nelly B K Mutti, MP recently led a delegation to the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada from 20th to 26th August, 2022 under the theme “Inclusive, Accessible, Accountable and Strong Parliaments: the Cornerstone of Democracy and Essential for Development.”

Topics up for deliberation at the Conference included: Remaining relevant in response to a pandemic; The role and responsibilities of Parliament; Role of Parliaments in achieving sustainable development: Access to assistive technologies; Implementation of standards across the commonwealth Parliaments; and the Climate emergency; Are Parliaments holding governments to account?

One of the top issues on the agenda of the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, was to deliberate on the change of legal status of the CPA from being a charity registered under British law to an International Parliamentary Organisation. 

In an update given to the General Assembly by the newly elected CPA Chairperson, Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP, it was reported that while working closely with the CPA Secretary General, Mr. Stephen Twigg when he acted as Chairperson of the CPA, vehement effort had been made in presenting to the British Government the CPA’s desire to change its legal status but that the CPA Secretariat was still in wait for feedback from the British Government. 

Hon. Grainger, however, stated that by the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Ghana in September, 2023 he would ensure that the CPAs legal status would have changed. He added that getting the British Government to recognise the new International Parliamentary Organisation that would be birthed would be a mammoth task but that the CPA was moving right along with this agenda. He further stated that if the British Government would not recognise the new international Parliamentary organisation, the CPA would have to move its headquarters to another country in which case the Secretariat would request Member Countries to volunteer to host the headquarters.

Another top issue on the agenda of the General Assembly was the election of some office bearers of the CPA Executive Committee. Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP from the UK Parliament was elected as Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee; Members of the General Assembly also endorsed the appointment of Hon. Shri Anurag Sharma, MP from the Parliament of India as Treasurer; the General Assembly was followed by a meeting of the new Executive Committee at which Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, MP was confirmed for the position of Vice Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee.

The other associated meetings at the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) included the 38th CPA Small Branches Conference; 7th Triennial Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Conference; and the 56th General Meeting of the Society of Clerks at the Table (SoCATT).

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is one the oldest established organisations in the Commonwealth having been founded in 1911. The CPA is a membership association which brings together Members irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture, who are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms and by the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy. The Association is made up of over 180 Legislatures or Branches which are divided into 9 geographic regions of the Commonwealth. The CPA provides vast opportunities for Parliamentarians and staff to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and to share good practice. 

The Speaker’s delegation to the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference included Dr. Christopher Kalila, MP, Mr Edgar Sing’ombe, MP, Ms Chrizoster Halwiindi Phiri, MP and accompanying members of staff.

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