The Cycle of Parliamentary Conversations: IX Summit of the Americas

Photo from Inter-Parliamentary Dialogue Event

On July 12, 2022, the Inter-American Dialogue co-hosted a private discussion on the future of inter-parliamentary dialogue in the Americas alongside Argentina’s Universidad Austral. Participants included Luis Almagro, General Secretary of the Organization of American States, US Senators Ben Cardin (D) and Roger Wicker (R), as well as multiple representatives from the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino) and congresspeople and parliamentarians from across the region.

The event began with opening remarks about the state of multilateralism in the region, especially with regards to June’s Summit of the Americas. Despite the recent challenges in inter-American diplomacy, exemplified above all else by the absence of various heads of state from the Summit, the opening speakers remained optimistic about the impact of the Summit and doubled down on the importance of maintaining a commitment to democracy in hemispheric diplomacy. Multiple speakers expressed satisfaction in the five political commitments that were reached during the Summit but recognized that its success will be measured by the extent to which it sparks greater hemispheric cooperation. Much of the opportunity to do so involves increasing collaboration at a more granular, local level between mayors, members of civil society, and parliamentarians.

The meeting proceeded to focus on the potential for inter-parliamentary dialogue in the Americas, which centered on the proposal for an inter-parliamentary chamber incorporated into the OAS system. Several speakers mentioned the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) as a model for a potential inter-parliamentary assembly. Participants discussed the way that the OSCE has responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including how the Magnitsky Sanctions originated in the Parliamentary Assembly. They also urged parliamentary bodies throughout the Americas to show support for an inter-parliamentary place of discussion in order to make this chamber a reality.

Many attendees expressed support for a permanent, inter-parliamentary chamber in the Americas, providing various suggestions for its implementation.  Various references were made to the Parlatino model, and specifically how its pluralism and desire to promote dialogue with as many actors in the international community as possible have been some of its greatest strengths. One speaker emphasized that an inter-parliamentary chamber for the Americas incorporating the United States should not just be a non-governmental organization, but an official inter-governmental organization ruled by international law.

Speakers extolled the various advantages of inter-parliamentary dialogue. Multiple speakers mentioned that parliamentarians take initiative and make things happen in a way that executive branches aren’t able to. For example, one speaker brought up the sluggish pace of multilateral institutions in dealing with environmental issues, arguing that a dialogue between parliamentary bodies would speed up the process of implementing environmental legislation and improve efforts to combat climate change, since these are the bodies that control national budgets. A variety of speakers commended the increased diversity, both of representation and opinion, that inter-parliamentary dialogues bring to multilateral action. It was also mentioned that such assemblies can provide a check on democratic backsliding and counteract executive aggrandizement by allowing opposition figures to officially participate in international dialogue.

The event concluded by reiterating both the promise of an inter-parliamentary chamber in the OAS and the necessity for parliamentarians from across the region to show support for the initiative in order to make it a reality.  

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