Bhutan to host APA meeting first time

The Parliament will host the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) committee meeting on social and cultural affairs for the first time in the country.

The three-day meeting is scheduled from August 31 to September 2 at the Convention Center in Thimphu. Twenty Members of Parliament (MP) from APA will participate in the event.

The Speaker of National Assembly, Jigme Zangpo, currently serving as the vice chairperson of the APA standing committee on social and cultural affairs, said that in the past, Bhutan was not able to host even a sub-committee conference.

He said that this time the government has approved to host the conference in the country based on the interest of other member countries.

โ€œI have been attending this meeting for the last three years. It was only in 2015 that the government gave us a green signal to host the meeting,โ€ said the Speaker adding that this message was conveyed during the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting at Dhaka in April this year. โ€œIt is clear that Bhutan is now ready to host the conference.โ€

The Assembly comprises five standing committees namely the political, peace and security, social and cultural, economic and sustainable development and energy committees. Each committee is headed by a vice-chair.

The Speaker said nine resolutions will be discussed in the upcoming conference.

The agenda for the forthcoming event includes measures to promote cultural diversity and protect cultural heritage in Asia, Asian integration through information and communication technology and collaboration on health equity in Asia.

The meeting will also discuss on protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers in Asia, Asian parliaments against corruption and APA women parliamentarians. Further, the agenda includes promoting inter-faith dialogue and harmony among world religions, legal and legislative cooperation in combating the smuggling of cultural items in Asia and effective cooperation in combating illicit drug trafficking in Asia.

Once these resolutions are approved, they will be forwarded to the General Council in Turkey.

Bhutan has been participating in numerous APA meetings as an APA MP since 2013. In 2006, during the seventh session of the Association of Asian Parliamentarians for peace, which was established in 1999, the body was transformed into APA in pursuit of peace based on justice and for closer Asian parliamentary cooperation. The APA currently comprises 42 member countries and 16 observers.

The plenary may set up other standing committees, sub-committees, commissions and subsidiary bodies as deemed necessary to deal with any subject of interest and to examine issues on its agenda.

The last meeting was held at Tehrn, Isamic Republic of Iran, last year where the assembly passed eight resolutions.

Bhutan became a member of APA in 2006.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu