THE Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga has called on politicians who attended the 148th IPU Assembly International Conference Convention Geneva (CICG) from March 23-March 27, to take action against the greatest threats for peace and understanding and that is geopolitical conflict and climate change in action.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 56 States around the world were experiencing armed conflict in 2023. Political polarization and hate speech are on the rise. Technological advances, such as inexpensive and easily produced military equipment, cyber warfare, drone surveillance and artificial intelligence, as well as increased geopolitical competition and political instability, have resulted in more intense conflicts and a rapid rise in conflict-related deaths.

Many conflicts violate a wide range of human rights, with parties frequently failing to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. At the international level, IPU firmly believes parliamentary diplomacy can make an important contribution to conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding.

In his statement on IPU General Debate on theme Parliamentary diplomacy: Building bridges for peace and understanding on Monday, March 25, Lord Fakafanua highlighted like his fellow speakers that absence of total peace in our time is due to the persisting unilateral acts of violence and violations of international law by both state and non-state actors. This is often with impunity due to a lack of accountability within our existing international rules-based order

The Speaker of Parliament told the IPU conference that “the double standards witnessed in the treatment of the perpetrators of violence, supported by states that turn a blind eye to realities on the ground and double standards, undermines our collective drive and ambition for lasting peace.

Evidently, one can conclude the existing mechanisms and pledges for peace and security enshrined in the United Nations charter are grossly inadequate today, as we slip into a time of multiple conflicts across multiple continents”

He also commended the efforts led by another speaker on proposition for reforms in the Veto


In 1984 a Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace was proclaimed which was a worldwide plea to all states and and international organizations to do their utmost to assist in implementing the right of peoples to peace through the adoption of appropriate measures at both the national and the international level.

IPU was founded on the notion that dialogue is central to the peaceful resolution of conflict. It maintains that peace is more than the absence of armed conflict. It encompasses security, the rule of law, and the conditions necessary for individuals, families and communities to lead fulfilling lives and realize their socioeconomic potential. Peace is also a fundamental condition for addressing global development challenges such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Hence, IPU has chosen peace and international security as its strategic policy focus for 2024, and this General Debate serves as the starting point for a year of action.

The General Debate of the 148th IPU Assembly provides an opportunity for IPU Members and other participating delegations on Monday (March 25) to assess the role that parliaments can play in conflict prevention and peacebuilding at the national, regional and international levels.

Lord Speaker Fakafanua provides statements in the IPU General Debate and stressed the important role Parliaments including the Legislative Assembly of Tonga play to maintaining peace.

“We as parliamentarians have a sacred duty to uphold peace for our peoples through resolutions of our parliaments and in holding our governments accountable for their actions. 

However, our peace is not only under constant threat by geopolitical conflict causing loss and damage to public and private property, forced migration, death and suffering but also by climate change induced extreme weather events felt around the globe brought about by the human activity of releasing harmful greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.”

He said our planet is heading in an unprecedented trajectory of self-destruction and as the leaders of our governments and parliaments we are partly to blame.

Lord Fakafanua noted that while he placed his trust in the democratic systems that underpin their shared values in the IPU, trust in the rules based international order designed to protect our nations and people from harm is wavering. There is lack of international ambition and commitment will result in global temperatures overshooting the Paris Agreement target of 1.5oc above pre-industrial levels this year.

“Fellow delegates, are we capable of saving ourselves from future hardships? The planet is changing in front of our very eyes, the time to act is imminent before it is too late.”

He also recalled 2023 “was a year of records for the warmest year ever recorded, we saw unprecedented ocean heating, accelerating sea level rise, worst glacier retreat on record, largest loss of Antarctic Sea ice, drought and flooding affected millions. And these records are only the start of exceedingly more frequent and more severe records to come if we do not act now.”

Lord Fakafanua urged Parliaments worldwide including the Tonga Legislature to take two actions now. One part of the challenge with the wide-spread adoption of renewables is the subsidized cost of fossil fuels with our own tax dollars. That is obscuring the true cost of coal, gasoline, diesel, and gas.

He cited the IMF report in 2022, there was a total of $7 trillioni in fossil fuel subsidies. Taxpayers funding fossil fuels both explicitly & implicitly and this number is expected to grow if we continue to do nothing. The true cost of the resulting air pollution is estimated at 8 millioniv deaths a year. The direct cost to health is $2-4 billionv a year.

He said “we as policy makers are ignoring the true cost of negative externalities to the environment, people’s lives, and sustainable development.”

The second call he made that Parliaments including Tonga must phase out all fossil fuel subsidies and phase in pricing externalities so that markets respond appropriately, by realizing the true value of our environment and the true value of human health.

“Only when and if there is a global consensus, on putting a real value on nature will the political will to act finally align with climate action,” said the Lord Speaker.

Lord Fakafanua and Tongatapu 1 constituency MP, Hon. Tevita Puloka attended the five-day IPU meeting in Geneva.

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