The Inter-Parliamentary Union is a global inter-parliamentary institution established in 1889 by Frédéric Passy (France) and William Randal Cremer (United Kingdom). It was the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations. Initially, the organization was for individual parliamentarians, but has since transformed into an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states. The national parliaments of 178 countries (the last three member countries are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu; Memberships were given during its 137th conference) are members of the IPU, and 12 regional parliamentary assemblies are associate members. The IPU has permanent observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.
The organs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union are:
- Assembly, meets twice a year. The Assembly is composed of parliamentarians designated as delegates by the Members. The Assembly is assisted in its work by Standing Committees, whose number and terms of reference are determined by the Governing Council; Standing Committees shall normally prepare reports and draft resolutions for the Assembly. No one delegate may record more than ten votes.
- Governing Council. The Governing Council normally holds two sessions a year. The Governing Council is composed of three representatives from each Member. The term of office of a member of the Governing Council lasts from one Assembly to the next and all the members of the Governing Council must be sitting members of Parliament. The Governing Council elects the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a period of three years. It also elects the members of the Executive Committee and appoints the Secretary General of the Union.
- Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is composed of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 15 members belonging to different Parliaments (elected by the Governing Council; not less than 12 are elected from among the members of the Governing Council) and the President of the Coordinating Committee of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians. The fifteen elected seats are assigned to the geopolitical groups. Only parliamentarians from States where women have both the right to vote and the right to stand for election are eligible to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is the administrative organ of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
- Secretariat. The Secretariat comprises the totality of the staff of the organisation under the direction of the Secretary General.
The Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments is a consultative body of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
More information can be found at the website of The Inter-Parliamentary Union