Letter from the President of the ASGP

18 December 2007

1. The ASGP met for its autumn session in Geneva between 8-10 October. The first day was devoted to a specific theme – Communication and Parliament. Mr Gherardo CASINI (Global Centre of Information and Communication Technologies in Parliament), Mr Boris BERGANT and Mr Peter VICKERS (European Broadcasting Union, EBU) made presentations. A presentation by our colleague Mr Xavier ROQUES on “Parliament and Media” was postponed to our meeting in Cape Town. During the ASGP meeting, we had some interesting communications and discussions from Mr Edouard NDUWIMANA (Burundi), Mr Oleksiy SYDORENKO (Ukraine), Mr Tae-Rang KIM (Republic of Korea), Mr Alain DELCAMP (France), Mr Carlos HOFFMANN CONTRERAS (Chile), Mr Samuel Waweru NDINDIRI, (Kenya), Mr Ian HARRIS (Australia), Mr Brissi Lucas GUEHI (Côte d’Ivoire), Mr Oum SARITH (Cambodia) and Mr N.C. JOSHI, Acting Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha (India). Mr Martin CHUNGONG gave a presentation on the recent activities of the IPU. Mr Zingile A. DINGANI presented the organization of the next session (Spring 2008). At the session in Geneva, 24 new members were accepted. They are all listed on the website.

2. On Thursday 11 October, the World e-Parliament Conference 2007 took place in Geneva.  The conference provided a forum for parliamentarians and officials, academics and representatives of international organizations and civil society, to exchange views and experiences, analyze successful approaches, and identify best practices on the use of new technologies to modernize parliamentary processes and improve dialogue between parliaments, legislators and citizens. The Conference, organized jointly by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments, through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, brought together 70 parliamentary delegations composed of MPs, ICT directors and staff, librarians, researchers and legislative officials. More information about the conference and presentations made during the conference are available on the website of the Global Centre. (http://www.ictparliament.org/worldeparliamentconference2007/11oct_internationalConf.htm).

3. As ASGP members know, the ASGP also helped to organize a successful conference in 2006 on parliamentary broadcasting. The tripartite arrangements in 2006 (with the European Broadcasting Union) and 2007 (with the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament) have proved very successful in mobilizing interest - more than 200 people participated in each of the last two events. The timing had the considerable advantage of facilitating the participation of parliamentarians and Secretaries General who were already in Geneva for the IPU and ASGP events. The proposal for 2008, which I have cleared with the Executive Committee, is for the IPU, the ASGP and the PLRS (Parliamentary Library and Research Services) to organize a meeting in Geneva on Thursday 16 October 2008, immediately after the 119th Assembly. The overall theme would need to be agreed by all partners, but would focus on the interaction between parliamentarians and library, legislative staff and research services in the area of knowledge creation and information access.

4. A report on ICT in parliament is being prepared by the Global Centre on ICT in Parliament. This report will present emerging trends and practices on ICT use in parliaments, and will be supplemented with a series of data compiled on the basis of a worldwide survey. The survey has been sent to all parliaments/chambers. I have been informed that a good number of 105 parliaments/chambers have answered the questionnaire. I am most thankful for the assistance of members of the ASGP in this regard. The Global Report on ICT in Parliament will be presented at a meeting in February 2008 in New York with the board of the Global Centre (Copies of the Report will be available in Cape Town). I’m looking forward to attending this important meeting as Advisor to the board, representing the ASGP.

5. In his presentation at the ASGP meeting on Monday 8 October, Mr Peter VICKERS (European Broadcasting Union - EBU) mentioned a proposal for a content exchange for parliamentary channels and broadcasters specializing in political affairs. The proposal was also distributed at the conference (and can be found on the website on the Past Meetings page). In order to be able to proceed and explore the possibility of implementing the EBU proposal, the EBU is interested in receiving information from its respective parliaments/chambers. Should these parliaments be interested in this project and in taking part in the proposed exchange of TV programmes, they are kindly invited to contact Mr. Peter Vickers, at their earliest convenience. His e-mail address: vickers@eurovision.net.

6. We are now planning for our ASGP meeting in Cape Town (South Africa). We should try to focus our discussions on communications on specific themes. It would therefore be of value if members who want to deliver a communication could get in contact with the joint secretaries in plenty of time before the meeting. In Geneva, it was decided that one day would be devoted to a specific African theme. It was also decided that Mr Samuel Waweru NDINDIRI and Mr Brissi Lucas GUEHI would have special responsibility for this. I will be in contact with them soon to follow up the agenda for the African Day.

7. In Geneva, the ASGP was informed that Mr Steven MARK from the UK Parliament will succeed Mr Roger PHILLIPS as joint secretary. It was also decided that Mrs Catherine CLOSE will have special responsibility for the ASGP website (http://www.asgp.info/).

Between our sessions I find it most valuable, as President, to have contacts and meetings with colleagues in order to discuss our common expectations regarding cooperation in the Association. Since our session in Geneva, I have visited our distinguished colleagues in Egypt, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I have also visited the meeting of the Secretaries General in the European Union and have had a short meeting with the Secretaries General in the Nordic countries.

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