New world citizens' assembly should be part of post-2015 agenda, campaign suggests

Secretariat, 17. May 2013

Proposal presented at a meeting convened by the UN's Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas

The establishment of a world parliamentary assembly was one of the subjects of a consultation convened on Thursday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva by the UN's Independent Expert for the Promotion of an Equitable and Democratic International Order, Alfred de Zayas.

At the opening of the meeting, Mr. de Zayas stressed that the existence of a democratic deficit at the global level

Campaign representative Andreas Bummel (left) and the UN's Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas (right) in Geneva
Image: CEUNPA

was widely recognized today. "There is a disconnect between power and people," the Independent Expert said. The purpose of the meeting was to seek views from experts on what measures could be recommended to "strengthen full, equitable and effective participation at the international and national levels."

In a statement delivered at the meeting, the representative of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas Bummel, pointed out that democratization of the international order should aim at promoting the dignity and worth of the individual human being and the fundamental equality of all world citizens. Considering the fact that the United Nations is a state-based organization and intergovernmental in nature, he stated that "The challenge is to find ways to create a space within this setup that nonetheless allows connecting global decision-making more directly with the world’s citizens as individuals."

According to Mr. Bummel, a UN body should be established in order to "give the world's citizens a voice at the UN through more direct representation. The underlying idea," he said, "is increased participation through increased political representation."

The members of this new body could be either delegated by parliaments or countries could choose to have them directly elected. Referring to the parliamentary organs of the European Union, the Council of Europe and the African Union, he emphasized that such a new UN Parliamentary Assembly "in no way would contradict the intergovernmental nature of the United Nations."

With reference to ongoing international discussions on post-2015 Development Goals, Mr. Bummel stated that steps towards citizen-based global democratic governance should be part of the new framework. "Serious consideration should be given to the contribution that a parliamentary assembly at the United Nations could make to the mechanisms which can assure accountability, reporting, monitoring and continued dialogue regarding the fulfillment of the post-2015 goals," he stated. This was in line with a call of global civil society made earlier this year in a synthesis report that the post-2015 framework should "incorporate targets on the reform and democratization of global institutions."

Other themes discussed at the meeting included reform of the UN Security Council, reinvigoration of the UN General Assembly, direct democracy, the role of national parliaments in the international and national arena, and the situation of indigenous peoples and nations.

The consultation was convened by the Independent Expert with a view of a report that will be submitted to the United Nations in October.

Download the full statement here (PDF)

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Top image: Expert meeting in Geneva, CEUNPA