G20 in Hamburg: Global democracy and UN Parliamentary Assembly discussed at "alternative summit"

Secretariat, 6. July 2017

Ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg on July 7/8 a workshop on global democracy and the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly was held at the alternative "Global Solidarity Summit" that was organized by over 70 civil society groups.

"Achieving global justice will only be possible through democratic global structures", said Dena Freeman, deputy director of the civil society group One World, in her opening presentation. She spoke about the historical transition to democracy that had taken place in European countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and how this had led to major improvements in social justice through the development of left wing political parties, redistribution and the welfare state. Now, she argued, it was time for a similar transition to take place at the global level leading to a new global social contract and a fairer and more just world for everyone. "We need to start building global institutions that will bring democracy to the global level, and a great place to start would be a democratic parliament at the UN".

Andreas Bummel, director of Democracy Without Borders and coordinator of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA), followed up this theme in a second presentation. "The G20 lacks the legitimacy for global decision-making," he said. "It's not representative and most countries are excluded. The UN is somewhat better because at least all countries are included, but it still falls far short of democratic ideals. Just as the G20, it is an exclusive club of government executives. The UN needs to be democratized. What is needed is a UN Parliamentary Assembly that would represent the world's citizens in UN decision-making". He argued that it was necessary to overcome the principle of consensus decision-making that characterizes intergovernmental negotiations and to start building democratic structures that could sustain majority decisions in the long run. He called on activists to join the campaign for a UNPA.

After the two presentations there was a vibrant discussion about global challenges such as climate change, environmental destruction, inequality and social justice, and how global democracy and a world parliament would help address them. Most participants agreed that global democracy was necessary to bring about global justice and argued that democracy must be strenthened at all levels and protected from being taken over by corporate interests. For most of young activists present it was the first time that they had heard about the idea of a UNPA - many agreed it was important and added their names to the campaign's petition.

On the day of the workshop the plenary of the European Parliament adopted a resolution in Strasbourg that included a call on the Council of the EU to foster a debate on "establishing a UN Parliamentary Assembly."