National Assembly of Seychelles backs proposal for elected UN body

Secretariat, 11. February 2010

In October 2009 the National Assembly of Seychelles, comprising thirty-three members, unanimously approved a motion recommending that the Republic of Seychelles promotes the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. The parliament of the archipelago nation of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean with a population of around 84,000 inhabitants is among the first in the world that have declared political support for the creation of an elected global body. On this occasion we have talked to the Chairman of its Committee on International Affairs, Hon. Waven William.

Advocates of a global parliamentary assembly often claim that there is a democracy deficit in today's global governance. What is the nature of this deficit from your point of view?

Hon. Waven William at a panel in Brussels in July 2008
Image: CTA

Too many global decisions are taken today which have major impacts on the residents of this planet earth, be it positive or negative, although the views of the inhabitants of this world have not been given a chance to be heard. Those with the financial and economic clout can dictate world affairs in their favor to the detriment of the weaker ones. Partnership agreements that are being signed in such constellations do not really create a win-win situation but rather serve the purpose to protect the interests of those who already have advantageous positions.

In what way do you believe could a UN Parliamentary Assembly help to mitigate this situation?

If set up, elected representatives from all the world’s countries could ensure that decision making and actions taken are balanced, fair and to the benefit of all. The assembly would make it possible that the views of the people would be heard. This would help to achieve the awareness that is required to bring about the necessary considerations that would actually lead to improvement and change.

In the UN General Assembly all countries have one vote, however large or small they are. In order to balance this arrangement it has been suggested that the number of elected representatives per country in a parliamentary assembly could be allocated according to a country's population size whereas small countries could get a minimum number so that they are represented at all. Do you think that such a design would still be beneficial for a small island state such as the Seychelles?

Yes, it would. However, my suggestion is that within the group of small states a rotation of their representation is considered in order to make the whole process as democratic as possible.

The leaders of the delegations of the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament to the Copenhagen Climate Conference have issued a statement saying that they believe that a UN Parliamentary Assembly is crucial to renovate the UN's decision-making structures. Could you imagine that the climate talks would be more successful if a global parliament would be involved?

Absolutely, as a global parliament is the aim of this ongoing campaign, we should not lose sight of this principal objective to have greater participation and representation of the people of this planet.

How strongly do you already feel the impact of climate change on the Seychelles?

It is becoming more tangible and threatening. The pattern of consumption of the world especially in the developing countries, for example in terms of energy, is leading to cross-border ecological changes that put pressure on the world and the ones most likely to take the brunt of it will be the small island states. Sea level rise is happening, as is the ever increasing evidence of coastal erosion, and the erosion of rivers and marsh embankments. Coral bleaching is another phenomenon which is becoming more apparent and the temperature rise is causing harmful effects to both man and animals, and brings about drastic changes to their environmental habitat. All in all, these changes also have an unforeseen, additional economic impact on the country. This undermines the sustainable resilience capacity of our nation as it calls for more investment in mitigation and adaptation projects.

Does the government share the view of the National Assembly that a UN Parliamentary Assembly is needed?

It is of the view that this is perhaps the way forward now to safeguard the interest of the peoples of this planet, issues one could think of are equitable distribution of wealth, poverty reduction and global market integration.

What are your plans now that you have passed that resolution?

We intend to follow closely what position are being manifested around the world and at the global level, to encourage others to join the campaign as well as to encourage government to play a much bigger role in the UN, in particular that it tries to convince other government to consider the establishment of this important oversight body within the UN.