Speaker Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu Arrives in Geneva for the 148th IPU Assembly

Geneva, 21 March 2024 – Speaker Hon. Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has arrived in Geneva to attend the 148th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, accompanied by the Government Whip and Assistant Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation the Hon. Alitia Bainivalu and the Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Inia Seruiratu.

Upon arrival, the Parliamentary delegation was warmly welcomed by Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, His Excellency Mr Luke Daunivalu and his senior officials and were briefed on the important role the mission plays in dealing with the United Nations and other international organisations based in Geneva, and has now expanded to cover the responsibilities formerly undertaken by the Fiji Embassy in Brussels which was closed in 2021.

The Hon. Speaker elaborated on the importance of this IPU meeting, which comprises 180 National Member Parliaments and 15 regional parliamentary bodies.

“For me personally, this is a new frontier, from being a politician and now being the Speaker and attending these important international meetings. We are the flag bearer and the voice of the Pacific, especially now which Fiji elected as Chairperson of the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Parliamentary Group within the IPU.”

“Being accompanied by the Leader of the Opposition is historic as this emphasises the bipartisanship approach that we are undertaking in all our meetings such as the 147th IPU Assembly in Bahrain, COP28 in Dubai and PIPG meeting held in Tonga last year.”

“We want to achieve something at the end of these four years, and this is only possible through the support from Government and officials like yourselves, and we also had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Fiji’s Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of Fiji to the Republic of Indonesia, His Excellency Amena Yauvoli upon arrival in Singapore yesterday,” Hon. Speaker said.

Hon. Seruiratu then acknowledged the important role that Parliaments and parliamentarians play within the IPU and how critical it is to ensure consistency on contributions and messages which align to Fiji’s priorities.

“Last year, I learnt a lot in Bahrain under the guidance and wisdom of the Hon. Speaker. We acknowledge the work by the previous Government, and we want to lift our participation and involvement to another level.”

“We want to elevate Fiji’s stance and we have to make sure that the Speaker’s message is consistent in all these important meetings.”

“With our chairmanship of SIDS, Fiji will continue to champion the rights of our Pacific neighbours and be the voice that will raise our issues in IPU and other international forums,” Hon. Seruiratu added.

The IPU is the global organisation of national parliaments and this year’s Assembly will focus on the theme ‘Parliamentary diplomacy: Building bridges for peace and understanding’.