GCC’s parliamentary diplomacy

The recent congregation of the Gulf 
Cooperation Council (GCC) parliamentarians in Abu Dhabi holds special significance. This largely due to certain key agendas that were decided in the course of the meeting.

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Published: Wed 24 Nov 2010, 9:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:47 PM

This meeting precedes the 31st GCC Summit which is to be held next month in Abu Dhabi. In recognition of the significance of the GCC legislatures in varied fields, the UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has urged improved coordination among the legislatures.

The parliamentarians decided on a number of measures that are expected to aid the GCC’s political mechanism. Foremost is the joint decision to work on a framework which would give the GCC bloc additional political weightage in the international arena.

The advantage of parliamentary diplomacy has already been demonstrated in the region. Moreover, this lends a stronger and more unified political voice to the GCC governments. Second, it provides a key platform to the political leadership to work for their people by defending their interests in a more effective way. According to the speakers, parliamentary diplomacy was successful in placing several Arab officials in leading roles in international and Islamic committees. More important is the crucial part it played in spreading awareness of Arab causes on the global stage. The GCC’s immediate neighbourhood is beset with ongoing disputes and some very serious security challenges. Iran’s nuclear standoff, the Mideast conflict, continuing instability in Iraq, territorial disputes with Iran and the looming terrorist threat in Yemen are some of the chief sources of concern. Of course, the ubiquitous security threat facing the energy sector is a constant challenge. This requires all the GCC states to strengthen cooperation among themselves as well.

In recognition of the mounting hostility facing Muslims worldwide, the Parliamentarians demanded a joint effort by western governments, the UN and other international organisations to take necessary steps to halt discrimination. This is a commendable step.

The GCC’s economic and regional weightage makes it a powerful bloc. It is time the GCC found its political voice and embraced a cohesive, political identity. The GCC as a regional bloc is still in an infant stage compared to the EU that has only now begun to enhance its political identity in the domain of foreign policy. Despite this it has already initiated work on carving a greater political role for itself. This is important for the region and the broader Gulf and the Middle East.

The GCC states’ responsible behaviour have lent them an exemplary status. Take for example the efforts to secure nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in accordance with international norms. Or the UAE’s resolve to seeking a peaceful resolution to the islands dispute with Iran.

This should also serve an apt reminder to others that regional peace and stability can be achieved through peaceful means.

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