UNDP Orientation for Bhutan’s new Parliament

07 Oct 2013

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Thimphu - Over two days, UNDP facilitated sessions in the government’s orientation programme for  National Council and National Assembly members. A half-day session was held with  National Council members on 3rd October 2013, and a two-hour session with National Assembly members on 7th October 2013.

The objective of the  programme was to ensure that members of Parliament both new and old were acquainted on the UN’s work in Bhutan. Hideko Hadzialic, UNDP Resident Representative a.i., shared experiences and lessons from UNDP’s support to Parliamentary development around the world.

UNDP Bhutan staff presented and facilitated discussion on the Human Rights and Environmental Conventions, Treaties and agreements to which Bhutan is a signatory, as well as Parliaments’ roles in relation to them. Lively discussions were also held on the opportunities for the Parliament and UNDP to work together on common priority goals and interests in the course of the 11th Five Year Plan, 2014-2018.

Shaheen Nilofer, Resident Coordinator a.i in her statement stressed on “public service delivery must work for all and most importantly for the poor”, further adding that the UN system supports parliamentarians in “strengthening democratic systems of governance that works particularly for the poor and the excluded”.  She acknowledged the government’s efforts on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda for Bhutan, and reminded that there are still some unfinished development goals to be met. She also cautioned the government, “We all know, people judge the quality of governance by their experience with public services and weak governance in turn undermines public service quality”.  

Ms. Angela Ison, UN Women, presented on Gender-Sensitive Parliaments, which inspired discussions with both National Council and National Assembly members. Mr. Dorji Wangdi, representing Zhemgang and Mr. Ritu Raj Chettri, Samtse representative requested the UN officials to share views on the introduction of the quota system which calls for equal women’s representation in Bhutan’s parliament. They deliberated on whether the system was the solution for resolving women’s participation in Bhutan.

Ms. Angela Ison, UN Women also elaborated that a parliament that responds to the “needs and interests of both women and men in its structures, operations and methods by removing the barrier to women’s full participation may be called a gender-sensitive parliament”.

The Orientation concluded with the members of Parliament more informed on their roles and the responsibilities of the legislative process. Members thanked the UN staff for the presentations and hoped for effective partnership during the 11th Five Year Plan.