East African legislators support the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 31. January 2013

EAC governments urged to promote a joint African position

At a session in Bujumbura, Burundi, the East African Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution on Tuesday that supports the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. In the document which was introduced by Ugandan lawmaker Mike Sebalu, the parliamentary body of the

Lawmaker Mike Sebalu moved the resolution adopted by the assembly in Bujumbura, Burundi
Image: EALA

East African Community urges the organisation's five member states Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, "to take the initiative to promote the development of a common African position in support of the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly."

The resolution outlines the growing role and involvement of international organizations such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies in key sectors such as the promotion of peace and security, economic development, health, education, the environment and sustainable development. It notes that nonetheless there is no formal parliamentary body at the United Nations that allows for parliamentarians to take part in its deliberations. According to Mr Sebalu, the insufficient formal involvement of elected representatives limits the democratic legitimacy of the world organization. According to the resolution the formation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly would be a tool to "improve the transparency, accountability and the effectiveness of the United Nations."

With the approval of the resolution, the East African Legislative Assembly joins a number of regional and continental parliaments that have expressed support for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. In particular, a similar one was passed by the Pan-African Parliament on October 24, 2007. In a first reaction, the Secretary-General of the international Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas Bummel, stated that EALA's resolution constitutes "an important milestone in the international efforts for democratizing the United Nations."

The resolution points out that a UN Parliamentary Assembly could be established simply by a vote of the United Nations General Assembly in accordance with Article 22 of the Charter of the United Nations without an amendment of the United Nations Charter.

The East African Legislative Assembly was established in 2001. Its membership is made up of nine representatives from each EAC member state who are elected by the national parliaments. Since June 2012, the assembly is chaired by Margaret Zziwa from Uganda. The treaty for the East African Community provides that partner states shall accord special importance to co-operation with the United Nations and its agencies and other international organizations.

EALA website

Top image: Flags of the EAC and its member states. Photo: EAC