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Swiss Senate calls on government to examine UN’s democratic deficit

Approving a proposal by Swiss Senator Daniel Jositsch, the upper chamber of the Swiss Parliament on 13 March 2019 formally called on the Swiss government to make a statement on the UN’s democratic deficit and whether the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) may be an adequate response.

The postulate put forward by Senator Jositsch, a representative of the Swiss canton of Zürich, was introduced with the support of all 46 senators and subsequently welcomed by the Swiss government. The Senate’s decision this Wednesday which was passed unanimously creates an official mandate for the government to look into the matter.

According to Jositsch he submitted the proposal “with the aim of achieving Swiss support for a fundamental revision of the structures of the United Nations. The goal should be to democratise the UN and, more specifically, to examine the creation of a world parliament.”

It is clear that the UN’s current structures cannot continue to exist forever

The postulate adopted by the Senate asks the government, the Federal Council, whether it believes “that there is a democratic deficit within the United Nations” and what possibilities the government sees to address such a deficit. Furthermore, the question is put forward whether the government considers “the creation of a parliamentary assembly within the UN – in the sense of a second chamber to represent the population – to be an appropriate model analogous to the Swiss system.”

The postulate is justified as follows: “It is clear that the structures of the UN cannot continue to exist in this way for all eternity. The balance of power has changed, today there is only little legitimacy left for a right of veto, and the UN is discussing new emerging problems that have taken on global significance. In the future, the main aim must be to make the UN more democratic. Switzerland, as a neutral small state with its two-chamber system, which attaches special importance to the cantons in the state structure, could play an important role in this process. In this context, the question arises as to whether a parliamentary assembly could be considered as a supplement to today’s United Nations General Assembly. The European Parliament, among others, is calling for such an assembly.”

In the debate in the Swiss Senate, the fundamental question that a world parliament is necessary in order to solve global problems was undisputed. Senator Daniel Jositsch commented on Switzerland’s role in establishing a global parliament: “Isn’t it our duty as pioneers of direct democracy to propagate global democracy and perhaps even global direct democracy via the internet?”

Senator Jositsch is a senior member of Democracy Without Borders and a co-chair of the international Parliamentary Group for a UNPA. On 6 March 2019, the group’s call to action on a UNPA was published by The Guardian.

Image: Plenary hall of the Swiss Senate, ©

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