Speaker of Algerian National Assembly: Drawing Up PUIC Strategy Commensurate with Contemporary Challenges

Speaker of Algerian National Assembly: Drawing Up PUIC Strategy Commensurate with Contemporary Challenges

H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Boughali, Speaker of the National People’s Assembly of Algeria, in his interview with the “PUIC” addressed several issues of importance to the Islamic World. The interview focused on activation of joint Islamic action; The Palestinian Cause ; challenges of modernity and development; African health system; migration from poor countries; and Climate Change. Following is the text of the interview:

PUIC:The motto of the 17th Session of the PUIC Conference is the “Islamic World and the Expectations of Modernity and Development”, and the role of Parliaments in realizing this ambition and hope. How can Parliaments make modernity and development a concrete reality through the legislative process? 

Mr. Boughali: First of all, there is a need to explain that parliament, in addition to being an official institution, and one of the public authorities of the state, is distinguished by springing from society and closely attached to it. It is, therefore, necessary to be always in the core of the interests and aspirations of societies. And as the connection between modernity and development is so close that it is impossible to imagine one without the other, the defining of concepts in a plain and clear manner, as well as advancing these expectations, are responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of Parliaments, primarily.  
It is, therefore, incumbent on Islamic States to have their own approaches to address the expectations of modernity and development which are based on foundations and principles originating from their religions, cultural and civilizational values, considering that genuine development and modernity ought to be a mirror that reflects the identity of the society i.e. putting material components to the service of advancing science, technology and knowledge which are coming to us, and consciously adapting the various provisions of modernity without total immersion in the incoming alien values, and without prejudice to the fundamentals of our Islamic identity and creed.

Parliaments, considered as the most open and interactive institutions with societies, have firstly the responsibility for awareness, informationally, culturally and even religiously, of the importance of erecting this ideological immunity through which it is possible to sieve whatever ideas that come to us, and to upgrade the expectations imposed on us by modernity and development. 

Taking up the Algerian experience, Algeria has made modernity one the most outstanding specification of development, on the various economic, cultural and human levels. The Algerian Parliament has kept abreast of this orientation, whether at the level of texts through achieving the twining of modernity and development in the various laws which have been studied and ratified in various sectors, as well as at the level of practice, and being keen to render the tools of the age and the purpose of development in the core of the legislative and control action which the parliament assumes, while at the same time preserving the essentials of the Algerian nation, its identity with its three dimensions, Islamic, Arab and Amazigh.  

PUIC:During the first Conference of Presidents, and leaders of African Parliaments, which was hosted by Abuja, Capital city of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on 9 and 10, May 2022, you stressed the necessity of preparing a health system in Africa aimed at dealing with epidemics and pandemics such as Covid-19 Pandemic, through a specific strategy. Can you Excellency shed more light on the strategy to which you referred in view of its significance to the African continent? 
Mr. Boughali:
It must be recalled, at the outset, that the lessons learned from this pandemic include the importance of scientific development of societies, and control of technologies of the age, as well as the significance of building strong national economies. Therefore, the African strategy approved in order to prepare a health system capable of addressing epidemics and pandemics was built on several elements and initiatives which may be crystallized into legislations and interventions. 

The First part of this strategy focuses on enhancing the health structures in African countries, and scientific research in the health field. The meeting affirmed the necessity of supporting and intensively investing in the health sector, in such a way as to re-qualify its infrastructure, and the local production of vaccines, together with focusing on scientific research, and qualifying scientists in preparation to any similar challenges in future.  
The second Part focuses on the personnel of the health sector in terms of doctors, nurses, technicians, and other workers related to this sector. It stressed on knowledge of all the needs of these personnel and workers, including the issuance of encouragement and incentive laws to enable them to do their work in the best conditions and avoid their emigration abroad. I open a bracket here in order to address the problem of brain drain from which Africa is suffering as well as most of the states of the Third World, and which constitutes one of the most outstanding challenges that ought to be confronted. The majority of the outstanding researchers and doctors who work in the biggest research centers and world hospitals come from Africa and Arab regions. Many of them have received their education in their countries of origin, Algeria is the best example of this. Consequently, it is necessary to find out an urgent and effective solution to put an end to this exhausting of human energies and enable our countries to benefit from them. 

The Third part of the African strategy focuses on the financial and economic aspects. The meeting called for establishing urgent funds in the framework of financial laws for confrontation and protection and to tackle any extraordinary incidence of epidemic and similar crises. It also urged on supporting national economies with laws that guarantee protection of national companies and institutions by way of issuing laws with collection nature that lessens duties, incentivizes investment and protects work jobs. It includes other measures in this regards, such as supporting local agriculture, controlling the food chain and developing relevant industries in a way supportive of food security, which seek to create a strategic stock of renewable basic materials in a regular manner in addition to social support and protection by laws and measures that relate to vulnerable categories as well as the most affected professions such as transportation and tourism, and also urgent investment in new technologies, artificial intelligence and digitalization in order to ensure the proceeding of work and commercial exchanges even under health quarantine and border closure. 

It may be known that this African strategy stressed the importance of including the climatic dimension and its impacts in all strategies and laws and emphasized extending support and actual participation of women and youth in the various initiatives, and for their contribution to the resurgence of the economy as well as the diversification of the sources of financing.

PUIC:The World has witnessed receding of the Coronavirus Pandemic. How do you envision reactivation of joint Islamic action in the framework of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States? 
Mr. Boughali:
The Coronavirus Pandemic has constituted one of the most important challenges that faced human beings, and greatly impacted PUIC activities, as well as joint Islamic action. Notwithstanding its effects, the pandemic highlighted wonderful values of solidarity, brotherhood and altruism. In this juncture, I salute PUIC initiatives and efforts to confront the pandemic and assist the less developed Muslim countries. I also salute the huge efforts of exerted by some states, including Algeria. 
It is worth mentioning that the crisis of the Coronavirus Pandemic has shown shortage in our joint Islamic action, and placed us before a reality that many of the objectives to which we have aspired did not materialize, and that there are big challenges and quick developments we find ourselves facing, which no state can single-handedly confront or stand steadfastly in front of it, that require us as an Islamic nation to work diligently, with a quick tempo, and carry out deep revisions in method, programs, tools, and introduction of deep reforms that qualify the PUIC to become an effective instrument for joint action at the Parliamentary level, and actual contribution to realize Islamic solidarity, and support and follow up governments in this regard, and what Islamic peoples aspire for. 

From here, it has become necessary to draw a strategy for the PUIC based on a new approach that conform to the spirit of the age and the challenges which it imposes that enables our organizations to achieve a bigger breakthrough in the international arena for the sake of caring for the interests of the Islamic Ummah, and defending its causes in the light of the various experiences and lessons learned from previous stages. This, specifically, is the basic objective of the 17th Conference which Algeria is hosting. It is also the essential motive for choosing its moto: “The Islamic World and Expectations of Modernity and Development”. Also it is not possible to ignore the economic factor and its significance in enhancing and activating political action, and the building of stronger bridges between peoples, consequently, the PUIC has to focus on the post- Covid-19 phase, on developing economic cooperation among Islamic countries, and the preparation of a more appropriate ground for an economic Islamic bloc which will be supportive of the PUIC. 

PUIC: Although The Palestinian Cause began during the past century, yet the struggling Palestinian People still face the most cruel kinds of injustice, where Muslim Worshippers are denied access to Al- Aqsa Mosque, First Qibla and Third of the Holly Sanctuaries, to perform the rituals of their Islamic Religion because of the persecution of the Israeli Occupation authorities.  How does your Excellency view the PUIC Role in realizing further mutual solidarity among the Member Parliaments, in order to support the legitimate struggle of the unarmed Palestinian people? 
Mr. Boughali:
First of all, it should be remembered that the Cause of Palestine, and Al-Quds, in particular, was, and still is, the central cause of the Islamic Ummah and the PUIC, and perhaps the sine qua non of PUIC existence and the source of its unity and strength. It is the duty of all Muslim states and their parliaments in this space to coordinate and cooperate in international and regional fora in order to extend the necessary support, defend this cause and reintroduce it to forefront, and thwart all attempts to remove it from international agenda under the shadow of escalating crises which the world is witnessing today. It is also an obligation to affirm the importance of Al-Quds as an integral part of the Palestinian territory as enshrined in international conventions, and to propagate its religious significance and face the occupation designs to obliterate the identity of the city and change its features. 

It is certain that “Algiers Declaration” which crowned the meeting of the Palestinian Factions has constituted a really important and successful step to bring the Palestinian cause back to the forefront, a matter which has been further enhanced after the Arab Summit which was hosted by Algeria in the First of November, especially after it adopted the Algiers Declaration and its initiative for the sake of unifying the Palestinian rank.  The duty of Parliamentarians in all Muslim countries within the PUIC space is to support this cause and adopt the roadmap paper which the Algiers Declaration has drawn up. They also have to support the demand for Palestine’s full membership at the United Nations, because this constitutes a strong push in favor of the Palestinian Cause, and urges the international community to assume its responsibility vis-à-vis the Palestinian people, in addition to providing material and moral support to the Palestinian People, and stressing that upholding to international legitimacy through the two-state solution is the one way towards a durable and comprehensive peace. 

In my view, the PUIC is also called upon to carry out a big task at the level of the media to face the blackout which is imposed on the suffering of the Palestinian People, and unmask the criminal practices of the Israeli occupation in Al-Quds as well as in different Palestinian regions, and urge the various forces advocating peace and brotherhood among peoples to maintain solidarity with the Palestinians and their legitimate right to resist, to life, and to the establishment of their independent state. 

PUIC: Millions of migrants live in appalling conditions having been compelled to leave their homelands because of disputes, wars, poverty and hunger. How can the phenomenon of migration and displacement be addressed, especially in PUIC countries? 
Mr. Boughali:
Dealing with the phenomena of migration and displacement and concomitant complications is not an easy matter. Addressing them must be based on a sound framework, and carried out with a comprehensive and integrated conception that is not devoid of mechanisms of cooperation and recourse to wisdom. PUIC countries, like other states, are facing the ramifications of migration and displacement as regions of origin or crossing or destination, and the outcome of all this on various levels, whether in security because the connection of this phenomenon sometimes, regrettably, with terrorism, organized crime, or the economic or social even health levels, that necessitate the deployment of further efforts to face this phenomenon, whether on the international domain by way of bilateral or collective cooperation agreements; or at the domestic level through legal or security treatment, and the creation of institutions concerned with this phenomenon, together with the necessity of prevention, protection, upgrading and pre-emptive treatment of the factors causing this phenomenon, whether in security, social or developmental dimensions, and that the humanitarian approaching must be the main determinant in dealing with the migrants and displaced people in a manner that preserves their dignity and the rights of the states receiving them, and ameliorating the burdens imposed upon them by world waves of displaced people and refugees. 

Algeria adopts a comprehensive approach aimed at eliminating the root causes of these phenomena which are basically represented in political instability, conflicts, terrorism, trans-border organized crime, in addition to poverty and the lack of development, and other factors. This tackling takes place through addressing various crises and disputes by peaceful means and without foreign interventions, and enhancing development in deprived regions aimed at assisting their citizens to settle, according to a balanced conception based on cooperation and solidarity, and at the same time stresses observation of the humanitarian aspect in dealing with refugees and the displaced in such a way as to preserve their humanitarian rights and dignity. 

I view this approach as the most appropriate to deal with the questions of migration and displacement which face different PUIC States, in addition to the necessity of action to include the dimension of migration and migrants in the policies of development at the national and regional levels, and act to adopt policies which are apt to place migration in context, and to steer them in a good way, together with enhancing cooperation with the states of destination and the transition States, on the one hand, and the states of origin, on the other, through initiating projects for structuring economic development that contributes to the settlement of the population, ensure basic services in these regions, and enhancing training and cooperation aimed at upgrading the qualification of local administration in response to the demands of development. Furthermore, there is another issue which is not less significant. That is, the necessity of not viewing migration from the angle of suffering and the harsh humanitarian conditions of the migrants only. But there is also another dimension in this issue concerning the qualified people living abroad which the PUIC States should have a special policy towards them, aimed at encouraging benefiting from them, and to confront the phenomenon of brain drain. 

PUIC: The Algiers Declaration adopted by the 47th Meeting of the PUIC Executive Committee, which was hosted by your august Parliament, affirmed the necessity of cooperation among the Member Parliaments to address the issue of Climate change. How do you envision the possibility of realizing this objective in reality? 
Mr. Boughali:
Algeria was among those States which hastened to ratify all agreements on climate, and undertook several measures to face climate change, whether through including them as constitutional rules to protect the environment, or creating an economic, social and environment council, the tasks of which include proposing solutions for environmental problems, and offering concrete consultations…ect. The best example for Algeria’s attention to this matter is the participation of the President of the Republic Mr. Abdul Majid Teboun in the Summit of World leaders in the Conference to the Parties of UN Framework Agreement concerning climate change (COP27) in Sharm-e-Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt.

The Algerian Parliament, in harmony with these orientations, effectively contributed to enhancing the legal arsenal, and accommodate the national legislations concerning climate and environmental change vis-à-vis the present circumstance. It also approved, as an initiative, to create a parliamentary network about the environment and the Climate which allowed even representation in it of deputies from previous legislatures, aimed at contributing to finding solutions and proposals that would help in confronting this challenge. The Parliament also participated in the proceedings of the Parliamentary Forum on climate change which was organized by the Climate Parliament last November in Luxor (Arab Republic of Egypt). In my view, PUIC Parliaments are invited to keep abreast of the endeavors of the international group on climate change and its negative impacts.

This should be an essential pivot in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and accompanying the government policies aimed at accommodation with the climate change, and acting to the participation of all categories of society to confront its effects, while being keen on the contribution of approved laws to the enhancement of the national capabilities to manage the environment in a sustainable manner and the protection of the climate. Also to contribute to the preparation of national plans and strategies which are based on sound environmental policies, in addition to awareness, and the formation of a strong political will to pressure in the direction of supporting and encouraging the sources of renewable energy and preservation of forests.  Close coordination between parliaments from different states is an indispensable imperative in this field. The PUIC must have its own outlook and initiatives aimed at creating larger cooperation and coordination frameworks among the Member Parliaments in this regard. 

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