Call for a UN Parliamentary Assembly gains traction among Swedish lawmakers

Secretariat, 20. June 2012

Sweden could pioneer the project of "making the UN more democratic," supporters say

Almost thirty Swedish lawmakers from six different national parties, both members of Riksdagen and the European Parliament, have endorsed an appeal addressed to the UN and its member states “to establish a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations.” According to the statement “a gradual implementation of democratic participation and representation on the global level” is recommended. Initially, the new global parliamentary body could be composed

From left to right: Swedish lawmakers Christer Winbäck, Bodil Ceballos and Åsa Lindestam
Image: Riksdagen

of national parliamentarians but in a later stage, as the appeal states, the assembly could be directly elected and act “as the voice of the citizens.”

The elected representatives from Sweden that support the proposal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) include the chairman of the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet), Jonas Sjöstedt, and the two spokespersons of the Green Party (Miljöpartiet), Åsa Romson and Gustav Fridolin. Several of them are members of the national parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

One member sitting on the committee, Christer Winbäck with the Liberal Party of Sweden (Folkpartiet), commented that "the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly would allow to give the UN the muscles it needs to meet global challenges more effectively as it would then have real democratic legitimacy, something it lacks today." Another member of the committee, Bodil Ceballos, who represents the Green Party in the committee said: "The need to make global governance stronger and more democratic is obvious. Not only when it comes to the challenges of climate change and environmental destruction. We also need to do more to meet our responsibility to stand up for democracy and human rights."

According to Åsa Lindestam, a member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and of the parliament's Committee on Defence, "it's still a long journey until a fully-fledged UNPA will be in operation." She added that "there are many questions that need to be explored further, for example regarding its authorities and their limitation. But all journeys start with a first step. Sweden has a tradition of strong commitment to the United Nations as a central actor for international peace and for the protection of human rights. Why shouldn't we show the way in making this body more democratic?"

Swedish campaign network envisaged

Internationally, the appeal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly is supported by over 800 members of parliament and many other distinguished individuals

Petter Ölmunger, the campaign's coordinator in Sweden
 

from more than 100 countries. The statement was launched by an international campaign in 2007. In February this year, a national coordinator for Sweden was appointed for the first time. “Our goal is to intensify political support for the proposal in Sweden and to establish a national network that works towards this end,” said Petter Ölmunger who holds the honorary position as coordinator for Sweden and serves as a pastor in Göteborg.

The director of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in Uppsala, Henning Melber, said that “there’s no question that the proposal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly merits serious consideration. I personally support it.”

Other supporters of the appeal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly from Sweden include ten professors and personalities such as the internationally bestselling author Henning Mankell, the former advisor to the Swedish prime minister Stefan Edman, K.G. Hammar, former archbishop of Church of Sweden and Torbjörn Tännsjö, a professor of practical philosophy at University of Stockholm who authored a book on global democracy in 2008.

List of Swedish lawmakers supporting the UNPA appeal
List of all signatories from Sweden
The appeal in Swedish

Further reading

28.02.2012: OpEd by Petter Ölmunger in Göteborgs Posten, "En gränslös ekonomi kräver global motvikt"

Top image: Riksdagen of Sweden in Stockholm, by hammershaug (Flickr), CC BY 2.0