Lord Fakafanua has been elected to the Board of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) Forum of Young Parliamentarians (Forum). This is a historical moment for Tonga as this is the first time that a Member from the Parliaments of the South Pacific has been elected to the Board of the IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians. The Forum of Young Parliamentarians is steered by a Board composed of 12 people—one man and one woman from each of the IPU’s six geopolitical groups (African Group, Arab Group, Eurasia Group, Group of Latin America and the Caribbean, Twelve Plus Group and the Asian Pacific Group)—who in turn elect a president. Both the Board and the President of the Forum are re-elected every two years.
Lord Fakafanua’s nomination was moved from the Meeting of the Asia Pacific Group of Parliamentarians Meeting at the 146th Assembly of the IPU, where he contested against candidates from Iran and Nepal. As the youngest Speaker of a National Parliament, Lord Fakafanua garnered the 10 votes from member states against 6 and 2 for Iran and Nepal respectively. As a result, the Speaker was automatically elected to the Board as a representative of the Asia Pacific Geopolitical Group of Parliamentarians.
The IPU’s Forum for Young Parliamentarians ensures that the youths voices is heard in global political decision-making both through greater participation of young MPs at IPU’s meetings and through formal inputs into outcomes. The Forum also ensures there is a youth perspective in the IPU’s work and builds bridges with outside organizations”. Lord Fakafanua assured the Asia Pacific Group’s meeting that his election to the Board guarantees that pressing issues such as Climate Change which remains a priority for young parliamentarians from Asia and the South Pacific can be heard at the international parliamentary fora.
In 2010 the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a resolution on Youth Participation in the Democratic Process, Emphasizing the need to prevent and counter all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on age, in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This led to the creation of Forum in 2013. The Forum meets twice a year during the IPU’s global meetings.
Lord Fakafanua is currently attending the 146th IPU Assembly in Manama, Bahrain from 11 to 15 March 2023, hosted by the Parliament of Bahrain. Over one hundred and forty two (142) country delegations and about 40 Speakers of Parliament from all over the world are attending the deliberations on the overall theme of Promoting peaceful coexistence and inclusive societies: Fighting intolerance.
The Assembly is also expected to adopt resolutions on Cyberattacks and cybercrimes: The new risks to global security and Parliamentary efforts in achieving negative carbon balances of forests. All the IPU’s parliamentary bodies will meet, including its four thematic standing committees who will discuss issues surrounding Peace and International Security, Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade, Democracy and Human Rights and the United Nations Affairs.
Lord Fakafanua is accompanied by the Tongatapu Constituency 1 People’s Representative Hon. Tevita Puloka who is the Chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Social Services and Ms. Silivia ‘Atiola, Legislative Counsel.