Interview with an MP

The Parliamentary Network Secretariat had a chance to sit down with Honourable Mauricio Lizcano Arango from Colombia. He was elected to the Board of PN as a young leader with a fresh perspective on international cooperation and development. We were able to interview him, asking questions about what he sees for the Network in the future, as well understanding Honourable Lizcano Arango on a more personal level.

Q: How is the Network important to you and your fellow colleagues around the world? 
A: The pursuit for increased transparency and accountability in every single stage of public management, including finance, is a priority in our progressively complex world.  Thus, modern policy makers are faced with the task of creating policies that promote engagement and civil discourse, while also ensuring that those policies are effective legislative tools. The Parliamentary Network has an important role in the generation of such policies because it provides a platform for which parliamentarians from different countries are able to discuss vital issues, nurturing the debates with our different experiences and perspectives, and allowing us to generate viable and moral solutions for some of the many challenges we face as both individual countries and the global community at-large. Additionally, the Parliamentary Network gives us the ability to advocate for the causes we believe in and nurture mutually beneficial strategic partnerships with like-minded policy makers and members of civil society that share similar causes. As a result, the Parliamentary Network empowers us to leverage the fact that we are members of our respective legislative bodies, and allows us to take what we learn from each other and truly apply it, bringing real changes in our countries and promoting good governance on all levels.

Q: In what ways do you see the Parliamentary Network making a substantial impact in international development during the next two years? 
A: The Parliamentary Network has been effective in the creation of bridges between the legislative bodies of different countries, and growing those bridges into long-lasting partnerships that gives all parties involved the capacity to enact permanent, positive changes. The understanding behind the ethos of the Parliamentary Network is that the issues faced by one country, especially those of human development, governance, and sustainability are shared by all countries, and that countries can help each other resolve these issues together. In that sense, the Parliamentary Network is a platform that facilitates international cooperation and promotes transnational capacity-building and sharing of knowledge of best practices between nations. 
Beyond its strictly practical aspects, the Parliamentary Network also promotes understanding between countries and fosters dialogue and empathy between nations by facilitating the free exchange of information, which is vital to maintaining world peace, creating prosperous economic relations, and galvanizing world governments to help the people who need it the most. 
As 2015 is the deadline for most countries to achieve their Millenium Development Goals, and as many countries have yet to do this, there will be an increased pressure to promote and sustain international cooperation. Therefore, the Parliamentary Network will take on an ever-more important role in promoting international cooperation and hopefully achieving these goals within a reasonable timeframe. As new development goals are set and other problems arise, the Parliamentary Network will become a crucial part of most countries’ development strategies.

Q: What were the factors that led you to take a leadership position as a Board Member? 
A: As a Parliamentarian, I wanted to contribute to my country’s economic growth and help shape its development strategies. This implied improving the country’s approach to receiving and utilizing international aid. I realized that I was in a unique position to foster this growth and employ my knowledge of economic development initiatives and international cooperation mechanisms to create a better roadmap to joint development incentives, such as those enabled by the Parliamentary Network. I also wanted to become a link between my country and the Network, particularly when achieving peace in my country is finally upon us and the political debates and topics are surpassing the mere way of ending in armed conflict to focus on social and economic issues that will allow long lasting peace and equality. I have no doubt that these issues can and will be enriched by the experience and aid of the Network and its Members.

Q: What are particular thematic foci that are of interest to you and your constituents? How do you see yourself making a substantial impact in these areas? 
A: Economic sustainability, development, and facing the challenges of global trade are all topics of interest to the Colombian people; however, poverty and inequity are the biggest difficulties Colombian society faces, especially at the gates of a post-conflict era. No peace can last if people don’t have their basic needs fulfilled, which include health, education, and shelter. Peace has to go hand-in-hand with equality of conditions and opportunities, closing the social gaps that have generated violence throughout history, as they have had profound consequences in Colombian society. 
The peace process between the Colombian government and insurgent groups has generated political and economic interest from the international community, sometimes reflected in international aid.  It’s fundamental that my country use this aid to sustain the momentum generated by the peace process and ensure its economic, political, and social stability well into the post-conflict era. Armed conflict, especially prolonged conflict such as the one we have been suffering in Colombia, leaves considerable negative effects in the social fabric of the country and does extensive damage to a nation’s political and economic institutions. However, this damage can be repaired by working to eradicate poverty and inequality and generating solutions that encourage good governance. In this manner, the solutions to a country’s problems may come more quickly.
My legislative work has tried to tackle some of the challenges brought by poverty and inequality. However, it has also focused on creating the tools for citizens to build the future they wish to have. It is not enough to decrease or even eliminate poverty and inequality, as citizens must have the necessary tools to accelerate human development for themselves and ensure that they can take control of their lives in the most positive ways, but it is one of the many components necessary to succeed in this struggle.  

Q: Does your constituency see the impact of international development cooperation, and if so, how?
A: Colombia’s interest in international development cooperation has been scarce, due to the skepticism that international instruments generate on most of my fellow countrymen. International aid is seen by many as a way for foreign interests to meddle in the country’s affairs, or as a misguided attempt by developed nations to solve problems that they do not understand.  
However, there is no denying that, when properly implemented and deployed, international aid can be a powerful tool for economic growth, humanitarian relief, and social change in the fields of education and healthcare. Of particular interest is the aid that is received in the form of capacity-building for the peaceful resolution of multilateral conflicts, as that is a particularly sensitive issue in my country. Why? Given that we are almost at the end of a decades-long armed conflict, conflict resolution will be an important part of the country’s post-conflict future. Material aid is also important as a capstone for development programs and community-led campaigns. As such, two of my goals as a member of the Parliamentary Network are to spread the word in my country about the benefits of properly implemented and deployed international aid can have, and to explain to my fellow PN Members my country’s conjuncture, helping in the design and improvement of aid strategies brought by other countries. 

Q: What are some of your hobbies?
A: I run as a hobby. It is both a great exercise and a way to take your mind off the daily worries. It trains my body and frees my mind, helping me think clearly.  I’ve been able to run marathons including Boston’s, Miami’s, and Bogotá’s half marathon, and races like the Heroes’ race in Bogota, an extremely rewarding race not only because of the physical challenge, but because the collected funds are donated to aid the process of recovery of soldiers injured during the Colombian conflict. 

Founded in 2000, the Parliamentary Network is an independent, non-governmental organization that provides a platform for Parliamentarians from over 140 countries to advocate for increased accountability and transparency in development cooperation. Jeremy Lefroy is the current Chair of the Parliamentary Network.

 

The Network – via its international secretariat, regional chapters and country chapters – reaches over 1000 Parliamentarians in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. It strives to increase transparency and accountability in the development cooperation process by fostering the oversight role of parliaments and civil society. The Network has a specific focus on multilateral aid and a sub-focus on the work and modus operandi of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world’s largest multilateral funders.

 

It provides a platform for MPs and civil society to hold to account their own governments, as well as International Financial Institutions (IFIs), for development outcomes.

Membership is free of charge and open to elected parliamentarians who currently hold a mandate. As a member, you will receive The Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s policy materials, including the quarterly Network Review publication and the Parliamentarians and Development series.

You will also be eligible to attend the Annual Conference and participate in discussions with senior World Bank and IMF leadership. You can also be invited to take part in the Parliamentarians in the Field country visit programme.
In addition, the The Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund often invites partner organizations to join its activities.
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