The proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly
In this age of globalization, more and more issues have a global dimension that requires global cooperation. At the UN and other international fora, governments come together to negotiate and decide on policies that affect us all.
The UN Charter begins on the promising opening words: “We the peoples.” However, one will seek in vain for any clause in the document that specifies a means by which ordinary people can play a role in the organization’s deliberations and decision-making.
The bodies of the UN and international organizations are occupied by officials who are appointed by the executive branches of national governments. In view of the growing importance of international organizations and their decisions, this is no longer sufficient.
A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) for the first time would give popularly elected representatives a formal role in global affairs. As an additional body, the assembly will directly represent the world's citizens and not governments.
Initially, states could choose whether their UNPA members would come from national parliaments, reflecting their political spectrum and gender equality, or whether they would be directly elected. Eventually, the goal is to have all members directly elected.
Starting as a largely consultative body, the rights and powers of the UNPA could be expanded over time as its democratic legitimacy increases. The assembly will act as an independent watchdog in the UN system and as a democratic reflection of the diversity of world public opinion.
In the long run, once its members are all democratically elected, the assembly could be developed into a world parliament which - under certain conditions and in conjunction with the UN General Assembly - may be able to adopt universally binding regulations.
In short, the UN should evolve from what many believe to be a generally ineffectual “talk-shop” into a viable democratic and legislative body.
International appeal for a UNPA