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Over 1,600 elected representatives endorse a UN Parliamentary Assembly

A view of the flag of the United Nations that flies in front of UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) which is coordinated by Democracy Without Borders reported today on Twitter that the call for a UNPA is now endorsed by more than 1,600 current and former elected representatives from 133 countries. “It is time that their voice is heard!”, the campaign tweeted. Since its inception, the campaign has seen a continuous growth of support from parliamentarians and civil society. We would like to use this recent milestone as an opportunity to provide some highlights from the campaign since the last overview report on this blog ten months ago.

New reports endorse a parliamentary body

The creation of a UNPA was supported this June 2019 in a position paper published by Together 2030, an international coalition of more than 700 civil society organizations that deals with the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030. According to Together 2030, “National Governments and their Parliaments should be requested to endorse the call for a proposed UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) so that citizens of the world can have a direct and legitimate voice at the UN.”

In June DWB’s Executive Director Andreas Bummel met in Cairo with the former Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, to discuss a UNPA

The creation of a UN Parliamentary Network (UNPN) as a step towards a UNPA was recommended as one of “twenty global ideas” in the report “An Innovation Agenda for UN 75: The Albright-Gambari Commision Report and the Road to 2020” published by the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. in the same month. It was also highlighted in this opinion piece that provides a summary.

A new parliamentary group and an initiative in Switzerland

In November 2018, an international Parliamentary Group for a UNPA was formed to promote the establishment of a UNPA. It is comprised of current and former parliamentarians from around the world. At an online meeting, they issued a call to action urging the UN and its member governments to take steps towards the creation of a UNPA in order to address the UN’s democratic deficit which was later published by The Guardian newspaper in the UK. 

Subsequently, one of the groups co-chairs, Senator Daniel Jositsch from Switzerland who is now President of the Swiss branch of Democracy Without Borders, submitted a postulate to the Swiss Senate which requested the federal government to report on whether it perceives a democratic deficit to exist at the UN and whether “the creation of a parliamentary assembly within the UN – in the sense of a second chamber to represent the population analogous to the Swiss system” would be an appropriate solution to address this deficit. The postulate was unanimously approved by the 46 members of the Swiss Senate and welcomed by the federal government. It was followed in March by a further unanimous decision which created an official mandate for the government to look into the matter.

Actions across the globe and a resolution by WFUNA

In October 2018, the fifth Global Week of Action for a World Parliament was held (see our report). Events and activities took place across the globe in various locations, in support of the demand for a ‘World Parliament Now!’ Meetings were held in Tel Aviv (Israel), Stockholm (Sweden), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Orono (Maine, USA), Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium), Dusseldorf (Germany), Genova (Italy), Si Sa Ket (Thailand) and Mingora City (Pakistan), among several others.

That same month, the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) gave support to a UNPA. The UN associations of Germany, Denmark, South Africa and the UK proposed a resolution, which stated that the UN “must address the democratic deficit within global decision-making processes”, and that this is necessary if the UN is to be successful “in the pursuit of creating a better world for all and ensuring that no on is left behind.” The resolution called upon UN member states, parliamentarians, civil society and member organisations, to “support steps towards the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.” The resolution was adopted unanimously.

Support of key individuals

Finally, the establishment of a UNPA continued to gain the support of key individuals. Then Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who has now been suggested as new European Union High Representative on Foreign Affairs, wrote a newspaper article for El Pais in December 2019 in which he suggested that the 75th anniversary of the UN in 2020 provided an opportunity to explore UN reforms, including the creation of a UNPA.

Another recent prominent supporter includes Egypt’s former foreign minister and former Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa, who said in a statement that “a UN Parliamentary Assembly can help mobilize citizens and parliaments in support of the UN and help strengthen multilateralism and the international system.” 

In October last year the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Yves Leterme, said that “global governance with a citizen’s driven democratic legitimacy and accountability is the right way to make the difference we need. That’s why I support the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly.”

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