European Parliament urges EU Council to put UN Parliamentary Assembly on UN's agenda

Secretariat, 10. May 2011

The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) has passed recommendations to the Council of the European Union on Monday evening that include the request to the Council to advocate at the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly “the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) within the UN system.” The adoption of the text by the plenary of the European Parliament is considered a matter of form and is expected to take place in June.

The

Jo Leinen, MEP
Image: European Parliament

decision indicates that the reform and democratization of the United Nations through the creation of an elected body is back on the agenda of the European Parliament.

“We urge the Council and the foreign ministers of the EU member states to consider the European Parliament’s recommendation. A UN Parliamentary Assembly would make the United Nations and global governance in general more open, transparent and democratic. This has always been an objective of the European Union. Besides, the assembly could be a strong force to support efforts for democratization around the world. That should be an important point on the agenda”, said European lawmaker Jo Leinen of the Socialist Group who is co-chair of an international Campaign for a UNPA.

“The decision to seize on the call for a UN Parliamentary Assembly again puts the European Parliament back at the forefront of the international efforts for global democracy,” said Andreas Bummel, the Campaign’s Secretary General.

In 1993, the European Parliament was one of the first political institutions in the world to take up the proposal. The support was repeated several times, most recently in 2005. "Today, in times of globalization, it is much less justifiable than in the past to limit the democratic participation of the citizens of this world to the nation state. This is why we, as European Parliament, support ways and means to give the people a strong representation also at the global level,” said then President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, on the occasion of a Campaign meeting in Brussels in November 2008.

The relevant paragraph of the “recommendation to the Council on the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly” that was jointly proposed by Mr. Leinen, former AFET chairman Elmar Brok of the conservative European People’s Party and the liberals Alexander Alvaro and Andrew Duff reads as follows:

The European Parliament addresses the recommendation to the Council “to advocate the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) within the UN system in order to increase the democratic character, the democratic accountability and the transparency of global governance and to allow for better citizen participation in the activities of the UN, acknowledging that a UNPA would be complementary to existing bodies, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union.”

The document includes another reference to the subject that was proposed by EPP’s lawmaker Kinga Gál, requesting the Council to foster a debate, “on the topic of establishing a UN Parliamentary Assembly” at the upcoming UN General Assembly.

The Council of the European Union is responsible for the bloc’s foreign and security policy. Recently, the UN General Assembly has passed a vote that allows the EU to speak at the UN on behalf of its 27 member states.

Top image: UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-Moon holds a discussion with Members from the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Development, Human Rights and Security and Defence of the European Parliament on 19 October 2010, (c) by European Parliament.

See also previous reports:

01 April 2010: European Parliament calls on EU Council to promote parliamentary participation in the UN

03 November 2008: EP President Pöttering affirms support for United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

27 September 2007: European Parliament: Cross-party group of MEPs calls for UNPA