Experts discuss global democracy and parliament at UN

Secretariat, 1. November 2011

The establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly was one of the subjects of an academic conference organized by the German United Nations Association (UNA-Germany) at the end of last week in Berlin. Scholars from across Germany gathered at the Japanese-German Center of the Free University of Berlin

The conference was organized by the German UN Association
Picture: UNA-Germany

to speak about "Trends towards more Global Democracy".

Fifteen years after the publication of an "Agenda for Democratization" by then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali the conference sought to assess the state of affairs. The document of the former UN Secretary-General - who is a prominent supporter of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly - was a starting point of the two-day discussions.

The proposal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly was presented at a panel by Peter Spiegel, vice chairman of the Committee for a Democratic U.N. in Berlin. Mr. Spiegel argued that democratizing the UN was also a measure to promote democracy internationally. He prompted to ask the question why the democracies of the world "obstruct efforts for democratizing international organizations."

Earlier Professor Lothar Brock with University of Frankfurt dealt with the question of what the democracy deficit at the UN is and explained why he supports the proposal for a UN parliament. In the course of his presentation, Professor Brock touched upon many of the subjects of the conference such as the embedding of democracy in the self-conception of the UN, preconditions for democracy, models of democracy, interdependency of democracy at the nation-state and international levels, forms of legitimization, need of legitimacy and possible consequences.

With regard to a UN Parliamentary Assembly, the participants did not reach a common standpoint. Broad agreement was reached on the assessment that democracy is anchored in the values of the UN and that the world organization's legitimacy needs to be improved.

UNA-Germany plans to publish the presentations of the conference in a German-language compilation. The meeting built on a first conference on world law organized by UNA-Germany in November 2008.

Top image: One of the panels, left in the picture Peter Spiegel, Source: Committee for a Democratic U.N.