A Clear Sign of Mongolia’s Commitment to Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy: Self-Assessment on Human Rights and a Gender-sensitive Parliament

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Local news, 04.02.2024

Everyone would agree that if an individual or institution has the will to develop and progress, the starting point is assessing one's strengths to determine the next steps and areas for further development. But if the institution is a national parliament, what tools are there to support self-assessment and performance evaluation?

MPS and SPS representatives during the assesment
MPS and SPS representatives during the assesment ©SDC

The answer to this question can be found in the self-assessment tools developed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The toolkit is based on universal values and principles, making it relevant to all parliaments, regardless of their political system or development stage.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is convinced that safeguarding human rights and gender equality is a precondition for genuine democracy. As institutions representing the interests of all citizens, the parliaments of any democratic country are responsible for creating these preconditions. This explains why the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation supports strengthening representative democracy in Mongolia through a dedicated project and has established exciting cooperation with the Mongolian Parliamentary Secretariat (MPS).

By being sensitive to gender issues and favoring the equal participation of women and men, parliaments are also more likely to achieve gender equality in society and fulfill their democratic mandate. The IPU emphasizes that “Parliaments that embody and promote gender equality deliver better to constituents and are more legitimate”.  SDC is strongly committed to further consolidating the foundation of this country’s overall democratic development and to help citizens build trust and confidence in the Parliament of Mongolia.

Our primary project objective, which was to support the strengthening of democratic governance in Mongolia and enhance the capacity of the MPS in accordance with amendments to the Constitution of Mongolia, was successfully achieved through the Consolidating Parliamentary Democracy in Mongolia project, which was jointly implemented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Secretariat of State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia.

We are proud that the Parliament of Mongolia conducted its first-ever self-assessment on human rights and gender issues in November 2023. This assessment utilized the toolkit developed by the IPU in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other organizations.

Speaker of the State Great Khural G.Zandanshatar  stated, "This evaluation is the first of its kind in the history of the Mongolian parliament, conducted under the observation and attention of other parliaments worldwide. It is also a unique and significant event, considering two distinct but related concepts simultaneously."

IPU expert Meg Munn underlined, "It is worth noting that the Mongolian parliament will be often mentioned as the first parliament in the world to conduct its own assessment of human rights."

During a discussion of the self-assessment, members of the State Great Khural delivered presentations on human rights and gender issues in the parliamentary system, which were analyzed from different perspectives. This led to a constructive debate that positively impacted the quality of the assessment, making it more active and democratic. As a result, the optimal determination of further measures was made possible.

Ts. Munkhtsetseg, a member of the State Great Khural and Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee, stated, “The parliament's self-assessment has yielded numerous ideas and suggestions for reforms that promise significant progress in ensuring human rights and gender equality in Mongolia. It is crucial to pay attention to their implementation.” This ensures that many important initiatives that emerged from the assessment are reflected in parliamentary activities.

MP Ts. Munkhtsetseg also noted, "The significance of this assessment lies not only in its historical value but also in the fact that it marks the beginning of a new phase in parliamentary reform. This assessment was conducted before the change in parliament's composition, which increased the number of members from 76 to 126. This is a significant change in the 33-year history of the permanent parliament."

"The assessment concluded that it is recommended to create a legal environment that respects human rights and gender sensitivity for the State Great Khural and its activities. Additionally, the policy will have a positive impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, which the world is striving to achieve."

The Consolidating Parliamentary Democracy in Mongolia project achieved results by developing and endorsing a methodology for assessing the human rights impact of legislation presented to Parliament. Over 10 training sessions and policy discussions on gender issues were organized in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, the National Committee on Gender Equality, and civil society organizations.

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