Civil society declarations support a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Manifesto on global democratic governance

As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, a new manifesto launched by the Argentinian civil society organization Democracia Global this week calls for "shared sovereignty, coordination and cooperation at the global level" and a "more federal and democratic political structure able to regulate globalization."

The document is open for endorsements and the website so far lists initial support from around twenty groups as well as sixty individuals, among them five former heads of state or government from Belgium, Croatia, Mali, Mexico and Uruguay.

The signatories of the statement "urgently ask national leaders and inter-national institutions to take lessons from the Coronavirus crisis. Let’s work together to enable a better integrated 21st Century political system, reinforcing regional institutions, reforming the United Nations and making each level of governance more representative and effective; for example, through the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly."

Declaration on the UN's 75th anniversary

Another declaration that was drafted by the UN2020 civil society initiative and the London-based campaign Together First was presented at a virtual "people's forum" on 14 May 2020 to the president of the current 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande from Nigeria.

The 12-page document is intended to serve as input to the intergovernmental consultations on the UN's 75th anniversary and a summit that is currently scheduled to take place in September in New York.

Among other things, the document calls for "a mandated post-2020 follow-up mechanism" to enhance global governance, better funding for the United Nations and enhanced participation of civil society.

The annex lists several further proposals, among them a directly elected UN Parliamentary Assembly that "would promote the well-being of all people and the planet".

Need of a global parliament highlighted at two events

The need of a global parliamentary body was highlighted previously at two virtual events in April, one organized by the Baha’i International Community in collaboration with UN2020 and Together First and another by the Global Challenges Foundation and the Swedish foreign ministry.

Top image: Since 10 March 2020 the UNHQ is closed to the public, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Image: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Livingstone Sewanyana

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of everyone to take part in public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives. This right is not restricted to local matters and extends to global institutions. A UN World Citizens' Initiative and a UN World Parliamentary Assembly represent innovative mechanisms for citizen involvement in global affairs which I proudly associate with.

International peace conference in South Korea supports a UN Parliamentary Assembly

An outcome message of this year’s PyeongChang Peace Forum from 9-11 February 2020 in South Korea that brought together around 4,000 participants calls on the UN's member states to "consider bold proposals, such as a UN Parliamentary Assembly and the World Citizens Initiative to ensure clear, meaningful and empowered civil society consultation and representation within the UN system."

Panel on UN75 with UN Under Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild (left)

The call was made in connection with the UN's 75th anniversary that is being commemorated this year. The message says that "civil society advocates are deeply concerned about a UN system that is under-resourced, under attack, underutilized, and unable to respond adequately to the many challenges facing humanity and the planet."

At a panel discussion in PyeongChang, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy on the UN75 commemorations, Fabrizio Hochschild, noted that it was "a paradox of our time" that countries were retreating from international collaboration "while it is needed more than ever before."

The proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly was raised as a way to give representatives of "We, the Peoples" a stronger voice in UN affairs.

Jeffrey Huffines of the UN2020 and Together First civil society initiatives announced that an NGO Peoples’ Forum will be held in New York on 23 April 2020 in order to discuss joint positions of global civil society.

The Secretary-General of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas Bummel, recalled that the final declaration of the Millennium NGO Forum twenty years ago already included strong support for a UN body composed of elected representatives. "We know that the current environment at the UN isn't good but at the very least we now need to create strong reference points for a Post-2020 process," he said.

More information

PyeongChang Message for Peace 2020

Mephato Reatile

As the world is struggling with major challenges and global institutions such as the UN are ever more important, we need to give a voice to the voiceless. The creation of the International Criminal Court was a milestone for global justice. In a similar way, it is my hope that a UN Parliamentary Assembly will be a milestone for global democracy. I am delighted to support this cause.

Abdihakim Moallim Ahmed Malin

In my capacity as a member of the Somali Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament, I would like to express my endorsement of the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The formation of this body will give the citizens of the world the opportunity to have their voice heard at the United Nations and will help highlight issues of global importance. A UN Parliamentary Assembly represents a key contribution to building global democracy, an ideal we all should aspire to reach. It will ensure that the world body and global governance are closer to citizens of the world and their true needs.

Kandeh Yumkella

The United Nations policy-making organs should reflect the realities of the 21st Century, especially the rise of the Global South and changing demographics. A UN Parliamentary Assembly will be one way of ensuring an inclusive global governance system and democratic representation of the world's citizens.

Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly receives Good Lobby Award

At an award ceremony last Friday in Brussels the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) received the second prize in the category “non-governmental organizations of the year” in The Good Lobby Awards 2019.

The founder of The Good Lobby Awards, Alberto Alemanno, commented that the UNPA campaign advocates “the sort of democratic innovations the world urgently needs”. The professor of law at the business school HEC Paris added that “unless we democratize globalization, the political system will continue to lag behind our increasingly internationalized societies”.

By now the UNPA campaign has been supported by over 1,600 current and former members of parliament, over 400 civil society groups and networks as well as thousands of individuals from more than 150 countries. Last year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting the proposal.

“This great recognition belongs to all who’ve been involved in our efforts for democratic global governance”, said Andreas Bummel, coordinator of the UNPA campaign. He congratulated the winner of the first prize in the “NGO of the year” category, the European Trade Union, as well as all other winners. All in all, there are nine categories in The Good Lobby Awards.

The second prize for the UNPA campaign was received by Pilar Llorente, an associate of the campaign in Brussels.

Alhagie Mbow

As the world is faced with major transitions and challenges in terms of security, climate change, and food security, among others, parliamentarians as the elected representatives of the citizens find themselves center-stage in pushing for effective solutions. They need to be engaged at all levels. It is natural that this must include the United Nations where key decisions are being made. To make this possible, the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly is urgently needed.

Lilia Puig

The increasing public problems related to climate change and the economic and political transformations of the 21st century demand more democracy. New worldwide problems demand new institutional solutions. The United Nations needs to recognize that being an exclusive club of governments and involving some representatives of civil society is not enough to connect citizens with the international decision-making system. The political pluralism of the world's societies is not represented at the United Nations. International political decisions have to be informed by all perspectives. Governments have their own self-serving interests and this is especially true for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. The United Nations need to make a step forward in the quality of plural representation that makes minorities seen and heard. This is the main reason why it is necessary to support the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.

Lutfi Sheriff Mohamed

As the world becoming one global village in this information era, the 75th anniversary of the UN is a good moment to revise its work and make institutional changes, in particular to establish a UN Parliamentary Assembly which can serve and represent the global citizens and address the global issues of terrorism and climate change, among others.