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Forum of the World's Senates


Déclaration finale des délégations présentes au forum des Sénats du monde
 adoptée le mardi 14 Mars 2000

The undersigned Presidents of Senates and Upper Houses, meeting in Paris on 14 March 2000 on the initiative of Mr. Christian Poncelet, President of the Senate of the French Republic,

NOTING :

That a steadily growing number of States throughout the world have opted for a bicameral system, the number of such States having increased from about 45 in the early 1970s to 67 today;

That this trend is set to continue in the years ahead since some twelve States are planning to establish a Senate or have already taken the requisite decision but have not yet actually established an Upper House;

STRESS :

That the spread of bicameralism reflects a desire and a need to consolidate and develop democratic regimes through diversification of representation and a process of integration of all sectors of the population by means of the establishment of two houses in individual countries;

That the bicameral system provides a more satisfactory framework for the process of decentralisation under way in most States of the world and is capable of addressing more effectively the issue of relations between local authorities, irrespective of their administrative or institutional status, and the central authorities;

That the bicameral system both plays a powerful role in stabilising judicial norms and consolidating the rule of law and serves as a modern instrument for implementation of the principle of separation of powers in States that are frequently swayed by the demands of the majority system;

That the bicameral system, regardless of the respective powers enjoyed by the two houses, ensures that legislative and political debate is given the necessary publicity and that public opinion and individual citizens, as the ultimate arbiters, are kept informed, such transparency and information being a prerequisite for democracy;

DECLARE :

Their common resolve, in conjunction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), to explore in greater depth the role and functions of Senates and Upper Houses, with due respect for the inherent diversity of such assemblies and with the aim of spreading, consolidating and reinforcing democratic values;

Their common resolve to develop exchanges between Senates and Upper Houses throughout the world and to develop the parliamentary dimension of international cooperation;

Their common resolve to take part in the Conference of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments to be held at United Nations Headquarters from 30 August to 1 September 2000;

Their common resolve to draw the attention of international organisations and institutions that run institutional assistance programmes to the need to avoid restricting the benefits of such programmes to structures of the Executive in the broad sense of the term, but to extend them instead to parliamentary assemblies and local authorities so that the strengthening of the Executive is counterbalanced by the strengthening of the Legislature, in keeping with universally agreed and lauded principles