German United Nations Association calls for concrete proposals for establishing a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 6. December 2009

The United Nations Association of Germany (UNA-Germany) called on the German federal government and the German parliament, the Bundestag, to „develop its own proposals for establishing a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations.“ According to the association, parliamentary participation and oversight “should be institutionalized, in medium term, through a Parliamentary Assembly inside the UN system.” The demand is included in a comprehensive catalogue which was adopted unanimously by the general assembly in Berlin on Saturday, 5 December. The catalogue which is titled “Strengthening of the United Nations as key actor and decisive forum of international relations” elaborates, among other things, on the strengthening of human rights, of democracy and international law, on human security and peace, environment and climate protection as well as structural reforms of the UN.

The Chairman of UNA-Germany, Prof. Thomas Bruha, commented that it is not about „creating a world parliament straightaway.” Rather it is necessary, according to Bruha, to take first steps to establish effective parliamentary oversight directly at the UN level. “This would be particularly useful with regard to the special agencies and programmes. Dealing with the topics of the UN General Assembly alone would not be of much help,” said Bruha.

During a public event on the eve of the general assembly the liberal Member of Parliament Marina Schuster said that the crucial question concerns the rights and functions a UN Parliamentary Assembly would be vested with: “This will either make or break the proposal.” According to Schuster, a UN Parliamentary Assembly would not be useful as a mere discussion forum. The former German Ambassador to the UN, Gunter Pleuger, stressed that the UN is “a permanent conference of government executives.” He provoked critical statements from the audience by saying that “the governments will never allow a Parliamentary Assembly to come into being.” The former parliamentary State Secretary in the German foreign ministry, Christoph Zöpel, reminded of a resolution of the German Bundestag adopted in 2005 which, in principle, supported the goal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The Chairman of the Committee for a Democratic U.N., Andreas Bummel, referred to the various examples of regional parliamentary assemblies and that it wasn’t necessary that the goal was shared by every government. “A majority vote of the UN General Assembly would be sufficient for the time being and that is not at all utopian,” said Bummel.

The German UNA already called for a UN Parliamentary Assembly in 2005. Its international umbrella organization, the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), had endorsed the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly at its World Congress in Buenos Aires three years ago and specifically adopted a resolution on the subject.

Germany is the third largest contributor to the UN's regular budget following the United States and Japan.