Seminar in Lagos debates proposal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 7. May 2010

A seminar organized by the Nigeria Network of NGOs on 5 May in Lagos has dealt with the proposal to establish a body of elected representatives at the United Nations. About 40 participants came together to discuss the rationale, structure, composition, selection, representation and other features of a possible global parliamentary body.

In a presentation made on behalf of Hon. Bethel Amadi, Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives and First Vice-President of the Pan-African Parliament, it was pointed out that “the inclusion of the people into the institutional structure and into the decision-making

Group picture of the seminar's participants
Image: NNNGO

mechanisms of the international system has essential importance.“ One of the other speakers, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye, elaborated further on the democratic deficit of international institutions which, he said, is characterized, among other things, by the absence of a “direct democratic connection to citizens.” Mr Adebusoye explained how a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) could establish such a connection. Hon. Florence Gbinigie-Erhabor, a one time member of the state legislature from Edo State, underlined that equal gender representation should be ensured in a UNPA. “Democracy, being a people-driven government, should be characterized by equal gender representation,” Hon. Gbinigie-Erhabor said.

At the end of the seminar, the participants adopted a joint communiqué that voiced support for the establishment of a UNPA. In particular, the communiqué endorsed the appeal of the international Campaign for a UNPA that recommends a gradual approach towards establishing a global parliament. Additionally, the seminar’s communiqué recommended, among other things, that civil society organizations “should be integrated in the representation at a UNPA alongside members of parliament” and that “the role of the civil society organizations and other stakeholders need to be clearly identified.” Furthermore, the communiqué says that “there should be clear criteria for determining the democratic status of participatory countries.”

Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, a trustee of the Nigeria Network of NGOs, commented that the seminar “was important to familiarize civil society with the concept of global representation through a parliamentary body. It was interesting to note that the participants all agreed on the basic idea of a world parliament. This is a good starting point,” Ms. Ramsome-Kuti said.

The Nigeria Network of NGO’s acts as the Nigerian coordinator of the international Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The network represents over 800 civil society organizations ranging from small groups working at the local level, to larger national organizations.