Workshop on UN Parliamentary Assembly held in Kampala

Secretariat, 2. December 2009

Strengthening parliamentary democracy in times of globalization and the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) was the subject of a workshop held last week, on 25 November, in Kampala, Uganda. Around five Members of Parliament and 20 representatives of local civil society organizations attended the event which was organized by the Parliament of Uganda and a local non-governmental organization, the African Federalist Association, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme. In his opening remarks Hon. Bartile Toskin, a Member of the Ugandan Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament, delivered a message from the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Edward Sekandi, in which the latter welcomed the participants and reinforced his long-standing support for the efforts to establish a UN Parliamentary Assembly.

The main presenter, Hon. Sunil Dowarkasing, Member of the Parliament of Mauritius and the Pan-African Parliament, gave an overview of the history and structure of the United Nations and elaborated on the concept of a UNPA and possible ways to its creation. "We need a strengthened world organization. At the same time, a renewed sense of ownership in the institution needs to be established. The foundations of the UN have to be reconsidered and widened. Eventually this can only be achieved by creating a direct link between the UN and the world's citizens," said Hon. Dowarkasing.

One of the other presenters, Professor Ezra Mugambe, remarked that a UNPA would constitute "a new kind of international forum in which members could be frank in discussing their affairs." During the debate it was asked, among other things, whether it would not be obvious to consolidate national parliaments first before working on the establishment of a global parliamentary body. It was pointed out that both processes could run in parallel and could be of reciprocal benefit as many political issues have a transborder dimension.

The workshop concluded with a recommendation to the Parliament of Uganda to formally support the establishment of a UNPA and to endorse a resolution of the Pan-African Parliament on the same subject which was passed in October 2007.