A new body to promote collaboration and democracy
Ahead of the 75th United Nations General Assembly that is opening today in New York, a study published by Democracy Without Borders recommends the establishment of a citizen-elected UN body. According to the Berlin-based international group, a UN Parliamentary Assembly would help “promote global collaboration and democracy” at a “critical time”.
“The handling of the Covid-19 pandemic or the climate crisis shows that governments and their international bodies are not effective in dealing with global issues. They are dominated by national interests,” said the group’s Executive Director Andreas Bummel.
In an opinion piece published at AlJazeera.com, he wrote that “the UN does not represent humanity. It is an exclusive club of government executives”.
In a video statement supporting a global parliament, Swiss Senator Daniel Jositsch confirmed that “governments have shown in the past that they are not capable of finding and implementing solutions”, adding that democratic global structures are needed.
This video was released today, calling for a world parliament
According to the new study, a citizen-elected global parliament would empower citizens, civil society and global institutions “to work together for the global common good.”
The document points out that in a first step, the UN General Assembly could establish the new parliamentary body “without the need to amend the UN Charter”. This means that no approval of the Security Council would be required. The study explains that members initially could be appointed by political groups in national or regional parliaments.
“We urge diplomats in New York and leaders in the world’s capitals to support the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The UN’s 75th anniversary is the right opportunity”, Bummel noted.
The UN’s independent expert on international democracy, Livingstone Sewanyana, commented that “this new assembly is necessary to improve the democratic character of the United Nations and global governance.”
A long-standing proposal
At a press briefing of the UN on Monday, the UN’s spokesperson was asked by a journalist what UN Secretary-General António Guterres thinks about a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The spokesperson wasn’t aware of the proposal and said that it sounds “like an issue for member states”.
Two months ago, UN chief Guterres had called for a “new model for global governance” that “must be based on full, inclusive and equal participation in global institutions.”
In a letter dated 30 April 2019, the proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly was officially presented to Guterres. At the time, an international group of parliamentarians had issued a call to action to him published by The Guardian newspaper.
The international campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly since 2007 got support from over 1,500 current and former elected representatives from more than 100 countries. It was launched under the auspices of the late former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The proposal was first put forward in 1949.
The new study is the most comprehensive assessment on its implementation so far. It was co-authored by Maja Brauer, a political scientist affiliated with Democracy Without Borders, and Andreas Bummel.
In May 2020, the proposal of a “of a directly elected advisory UN Parliamentary Assembly” was endorsed in the UN75 People’s Declaration of global civil society.