Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia the Right Hon Ms Nelly Mutti, SC, MP, FAPRA has called on all parliamentarians to utilise the available avenues to engage in parliamentary diplomacy, as a viable means for resolving conflicts and building bridges for peace and understanding.

In delivering her remarks to the 148th Inter Parliamentary Union General Assembly, the Rt Hon Speaker stated that the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognised that peace and security are a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development, and that sustainable development provides a pathway for peaceful societies. 

Speaker Mutti bemoaned the continued conflicts and insecurity in regional hotspots across the globe. She stated that, the Global Peace Index of 2023, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) indicate that the level of global peacefulness has deteriorated for the ninth consecutive year since 2008.  She sadly noted that global peacefulness and security have been further threatened by the advancement in technology, which has made it easy to spread hate speech, increase political polarisation as well as geopolitical competition.

The Rt Hon Speaker also noted that the continued conflict in the world will make it difficult to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  She mentioned that, even the achievements that countries have attained thus far, are likely to be negated by conflict.  Hon Mutti highlighted the need for collective action to foster peace, understanding and harmony for sustainable development. 

She pointed out that Parliaments were uniquely designed to address contentious issues, relationships and political disagreements, as well as to provide a unique platform for promoting conflict resolution through the democratic means of dialogue and compromise.

Speaker Mutti apprised the Assembly that Parliamentary Diplomacy brought about a distinctive form of diplomacy due to the fact that Members of Parliament have the marginal flexibility that may not be accorded to a conventional diplomat.  She, therefore, called on Parliaments to utilise their legislative, oversight, budget approval and representative functions to ensure that all people, including the marginalised live safely, peacefully and have access to equal opportunities. Further, she mentioned that Parliaments can leverage on the offices of the Speaker, Inter-Parliamentary Groups, Parliamentary Committees, Individual Members of Parliament, Political Parties and Parliamentary Support Groups, as parliamentary diplomatic actors.

Speaker Mutti expressed delight that Zambia has continued to enjoy warm and cordial relations with all her neighbouring countries, and has not experienced any all-out conflicts or war. She said that, the Government of the Republic of Zambia has demonstrated commitment to safeguarding peace and maintaining security in the country by, among other things, implementing a policy and legal framework that promotes peace.

She informed the Assembly that the Zambian Parliament has been promoting parliamentary diplomacy in a number of ways, for instance, the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, has mandated the Zambian Parliament to ratify international agreements and conventions. She added that this has provided a unique opportunity and a means for the Zambian Parliament to participate in and shape the country’s foreign policy.  She further added that, the Zambian Parliament is an active member to a number of international and regional organisations, where issues of peace building and conflict resolution are deliberated upon.  

She also informed the Assembly that, the Zambian Parliament also enhances parliamentary diplomacy through the committee system, where specific Parliamentary Committees provide effective oversight on Government policies and programmes pertaining to national security, rule of law and democratic governance, which are building blocks for peace and understanding. 

Speaker Mutti emphasised that, parliamentary diplomacy is a powerful tool for engaging in global affairs, shaping foreign policy and fostering peaceful international relations.  
The 148th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, has been convened under the theme “Parliamentary Diplomacy: Building Bridges for Peace and Understanding.”