United Nations experts endorse the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Secretariat, 3. November 2016

Six current UN experts elected by the world organization's Human Rights Council in Geneva have supported the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, in short UNPA, in the past weeks

According to Maina Kiai from Kenya, the UN's special rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, "one weakness of the United Nations is that its member states are represented solely through the executive branch. The involvement of additional actors such as parliamentarians and civil society is critical to democratizing the UN."

The UN's special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt from Germany, noted that the UN was "meant to be an inclusive space for active engagement with the civil society and multi-stakeholders." Considering the "great value of cross-boundary work on the promotion of freedom of religion or belief by parliamentarians around the world" that he has seen, he stated to believe "in the great potentials that a UN Parliamentary Assembly has for strengthening the UN system."

The UN's expert on the right to food, Hilal Elver from Turkey, said that "795 million world citizens are suffering from chronic hunger. An elected UN Parliamentary Assembly may be a means to give these most vulnerable members of our global community a stronger voice so that the systemic international causes of their misery can be more adequately addressed."

In 2013, the UN's expert on the promotion of an equitable and democratic international order, Alfred de Zayas, recommended that the UN should conduct a study on how a World Parliamentary Assembly "may advance genuine participation."

Confirming his support of the proposal he pointed out today that "a UN Parliamentary Assembly is necessary to advance an international order that is more democratic and equitable. Transparency, accountability and rule of law will be better served when the people have greater participation in decision-making."

In addition, the international appeal for a UNPA was recently endorsed by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as François Crépeau, special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants (in his capacity as professor at McGill University).

Other prominent supporters of the appeal with ties to the UN include former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Under-Secretary-Generals Ibrahim Gambari, Shashi Tharoor, Brian Urquhart and Heitor Gurgulino de Souza, former Assistant Secretary-General and former President of Slovenia, Danilo Türk, former Assistant Secretary-General Anders Wijkman, the former commander of the UN mission in Rwanda, Roméo Dallaire, the UN’s former rapporteurs on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter and Jean Ziegler, the former rapporteurs on torture Theo van Boven and Manfred Nowak, and former UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor.

Top image: A general view of participants at the thirty-first regular session of the Human Rights Council, UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré