World’s MPs commit to action on digital freedom and fairer migration

Parliamentarians from 137 countries have committed to action aimed at tackling two of the most challenging issues facing the world today – migration and the protection of digital freedoms - as they concluded a global parliamentary conference in Geneva.
Adopting a resolution on democracy in the digital era at the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the MPs have set new standards on protecting democracy and digital freedoms in an age of mass surveillance.
The resolution urges parliaments to review national laws to prohibit the interception, collection, analysis and storage of personal data without informed consent of concerned individuals or valid court order.
It underscores the need for privacy protection to be consistent across domestic and international borders, and calls on parliaments to ensure national law cannot be bypassed by data-sharing agreements with foreign States or multinationals.
The 25 point resolution emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between national security and individual freedoms in ensuring that measures taken in the name of national security and counter-terrorism don’t undermine democracy or threaten human rights.
Parliaments are urged to make sure that attempts to curb democratic voices online, including those of journalists and human rights defenders through imprisonment, censorship, hacking or other repressive means are strictly forbidden in national legislation.
Coherent and comprehensive laws to protect whistleblowers in line with international standards are also strongly recommended.
The IPU Assembly, which focused on identifying parliamentary action for a fairer, smarter and more humane migration against a backdrop of a global migration and refugee crisis, outlined a set of measures that MPs could take to protect migrants and maximize the full potential of the world’s oldest human phenomenon.
In a statement adopted at the conclusion of the Assembly, the MPs committed to working towards the ratification of various international conventions that protect migrants’ and refugee rights.
Addressing global and national legislative gaps or grey areas, including the responsibility for searching and rescuing people found in distress at sea or laws on the responsibility for people fleeing environmental disasters was encouraged.
The revision of national laws to ensure access to basic services for all migrants and refugees irrespective of their status, the regulation of the informal sector, particularly the recruitment of low-skilled migrant workers, and the promotion of safe, regular channels for migration, are amongst a wide-ranging set of actions identified by the MPs.  
To tackle the growing xenophobia around the world, the MPs acknowledged their responsibility to lead by example in combating stereotypes against migrants, promoting anti-discrimination legislation and in communicating rationally and factually on migration.
“Migration is ultimately an opportunity to positively transform lives, society and economies. We have seen that throughout history. But it has never been easy or without price for the migrant, or the countries of origin and destination,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury. “This is the most complex challenge of our time. We as parliamentarians must get it right. The potential for positive change that success would bring is incalculable.”
More than 650 MPs, including 92 Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliament and 213 women, attended the 133rd IPU Assembly. It was the highest ever percentage (32.6 per cent) of women MPs participating at an IPU Assembly.