Good morning and thank you, Mr. President. And special thanks to the distinguished representative from Morocco for presenting the draft resolution, "Interaction between the United Nations, national parliaments and the Inter-parliamentary Union," and to the 84 co-sponsors.
I am honored to be here, as the U.S. Congressional delegate to the 66th UN General Assembly, to recognize the close ties that are shared between the United Nations, national parliaments, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I also want to give acknowledgment to one of my early predecessors, from over a hundred years ago, the late U.S. Congressman Richard Bartholdt, who represented my constituency in Saint Louis, Missouri in the early 1900's. He was a German immigrant to America and a strong advocate for legislatures being engaged in international issues and organizations, especially the IPU. In fact, he was the leader in hosting the IPU's International Conference in Saint Louis, Missouri during his tenure.
Today, with one hundred and sixty-two national parliaments as members, the IPU plays a vital role in bringing parliamentarians from around the globe together to discuss best practices and promote democracy worldwide. The IPU assists new parliaments and advances the role of women, indigenous populations, and minorities in governance through its programs and capacity building. And by encouraging dialogue between members it promotes human rights, the rule of law, and gender equality.
The IPU also works daily to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of legislatures and serves as a credible and practical resource in helping to improve parliamentarians' understanding of the legislative process. This work is particularly valuable to nascent democracies such as those in the nations of the Middle East and North Africa. The United States firmly believes that strong legislatures are critical elements of strong democracies. And engaged elected legislators are critical to maintaining engaged citizens in international issues.
But the IPU's work is important not only to emerging democracies. The IPU helps to strengthen parliaments and increase parliamentary capacity around the world, in democracies both new and old. Dialogue -- between individual parliamentarians, and, between the IPU and the UN, such as with the resolution we have before us today -- is fundamental to this work.
The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution today. Thank you for the opportunity and for the honor to address the General Assembly. We look forward to supporting enhanced UN and IPU cooperation from Washington.