By adopting Resolution 1798 (2011), the Parliamentary Assembly clarified the notion of fair representation of the political parties or groups of national parliaments in their delegations to the Assembly and set out principles to this end. However, these principles serve merely to assess whether political parties or groups are fairly represented in the national delegations, as stipulated in the Rules of Procedure.
Yet, the Rules of Procedure do not extend this guarantee of fair representation of the parties to the membership of Assembly committees. As a result, delegation members from the opposition may be excluded from some of the Assembly’s key committees, either because they are alternates on the committee or because the delegation is represented on it solely by members of the majority.
Furthermore, representation in theory is not the same as effective participation. In an ever increasing number of delegations, members of opposition parties are subject to discriminatory measures, whereby they are relegated to the rank of alternates in the Assembly or substitutes on committees and are not authorised or no longer in a position to take part actively in Assembly part-sessions or committee meetings, in accordance with the internal rules or practice of their national parliaments.
There is therefore a need to look carefully into the practice of national parliaments concerning the effective participation in the work of the Assembly of delegation members from the opposition and, where necessary, to amend the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure to set up the requisite safeguards.