The International Parliamentary Union (IPU) was established in 1889 as the international organisation of parliaments. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.
Through its activities, the IPU aims to:
- foster contacts, coordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries;
- contribute to the defence and promotion of human rights; and
- contribute to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.
The main area of activity of the IPU include representative democracy, peace and security, sustainable development, human rights, women in politics, and education, science and culture.
In achieving its objectives, the IPU also touches on digital policy issues, ranging from capacity development (assisting parliaments in making use of information and communication technologies as essential tools in fulfilling their legislative function) to privacy, data protection, and freedom of expression in the digital age (encouraging parliaments to build effective mechanisms aimed to ensure the protection of these onlinr rights).
The IPU has also been involved in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), both in the 2003 and 2005 phases (when it facilitated parliamentary meetings within the framework of the Geneva and Tunis meetings), as well as part of the follow-up to WSIS, with the IPU being, together with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), co-facilitator of the Sub-group on Parliament and ICT under the WSIS action line C1, 'The role of public governance authorities and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICT for development'.