Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly
In September 2018, CIVICUS published the following article by Andreas Bummel to their series “Reimagining Democracy” that suggests the establishment of a UN World Citizens Initiative as a consultative mechanism to the UN General Assembly.
Read the article below:
Let’s imagine global citizen participation at the UN
Andreas Bummel is Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders.
The Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) is a global network of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations advocating citizen's representation at the United Nations. At the Campaign's launch in April 2007 at more than one dozen events on five continents an international "Appeal for the Establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly" was published. In April 2009 the Campaign issued a "Call for Global Democratic Oversight of International Financial and Economic Institutions". The Campaign's statements are supported by individuals from 156 countries, among them 755 members of parliament, and 389 NGOs from all around the world. Five international conferences have taken place so far.
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.
» To make the UNPA proposal visible in political debates and the media
» To facilitate the creation of national and local networks of individuals, non-governmental organizations and parliamentarians advocating a UNPA in their sphere of influence
» To establish a global multi-stakeholder coalition which unites parliamentary and civil society efforts for a U.N. Parliamentary Assembly
» To facilitate contacts and debates with potentially like-minded parliaments and governments
A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) can be established without a reform of the UN Charter.
In a first step, a UNPA could be created with a decision of the UN General Assembly under Article 22 UN Charter. According to this provision, the UN General Assembly “may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions.”
The General Assembly would instigate the preparatory process and finally adopt the UNPA’s Statutes. Limited only by the scope of its own powers, the assembly would be able to vest the UNPA with distinct rights and functions.
Alternatively, the UNPA could be created through a new international treaty. This treaty would consist of the UNPA’s Statutes and would be negotiated by a group of like-minded governments. To enter into force, the treaty would have to be ratified by a certain number of countries as stipulated in the Statutes. Rights and functions vis-à-vis the UN would have to be confirmed by a cooperation agreement adopted by the UN General Assembly. Again, the UNPA’s rights could not exceed those of the General Assembly.
In either case, the UNPA should be open to the participation of all UN member states.
The establishment of a UNPA could be prepared by a United Nations Parliamentary Network set up by individual parliamentarians.
Numerous existing international parliamentary institutions such as the European Parliament or the Pan-African Parliament provide important experience to draw upon.
Various models have been put forward to demonstrate options for the allocation of seats.
The Federalist Principle in the Catholic Social Doctrine and the Question of a World Parliament (2016)
Maja Brauer and Andreas Bummel
English | German
This background paper looks into the world order model included in catholic social doctrine and identifies federalism and democracy as its underlying principles. Catholic social teaching implies the structures of a federally organized world state whose “universal political authority” is subjected to democratic oversight. This study concludes that the creation of a world parliament is a logical consequence of and fully in harmony with papal doctrine.
Strengthening Security, Justice, and Democracy Globally: The Case for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (2015)
This background paper for the Commission on Global Security, Justice, and Governance looks into the issue of a UN Parliamentary Assembly. While the Inter-Parliamentary Union has increasingly claimed for itself the space of a United Nations ‘parliamentary dimension,’ questions persist around whether it can fully play important representation and oversight roles at the global level. On balance, it is concluded in this paper, a standing, initially consultative UN parliamentary assembly would be the better option, with the IPU serving as a complementary institution. A key interim step toward developing a standing parliamentary body could be the creation of a Parliamentary Network on the United Nations.
Creating a World Parliamentary Assembly (2012)
Joseph E. Schwartzberg
English | Purchase on Amazon
This study explores how the democratic deficit of the United Nations can be progressively minimized by the development of a global parliamentary body. After establishing a conceptual platform, three evolutionary steps with four specific models for the apportionment of seats are set forth for what would eventually become a directly elected world assembly.
The Legal and Political Status of International Parliamentary Institutions (2011)
English | Purchase on Amazon
This paper contains a worldwide analysis of International Parliamentary Institutions (IPIs) in existence to date. Their number and competences are steadily increasing but still there are hardly any substantive comparative investigations. This study fills this gap. One of its conclusions is that IPIs increasingly fulfill genuine parliamentary oversight functions. They can contribute to overcoming democracy deficits at both regional and global levels.
A Global Parliament: Essays and Articles (2011)
Richard Falk and Andrew Strauss
Contents (English) | Purchase on Amazon
Democracy is the guiding principle for fairly and peacefully making community decision at the local, provincial, and national levels of human society. In this compilation of their collected works, Falk and Strauss argue for a practical approach to now finally extending democratic decision-making to the global system.
“At a time when many in civil society question the legitimacy of our international architecture, and globalization brings home the reality that no nation alone — mighty or modest — can hope to solve our interconnected challenges, the global community needs to reconsider its conduct of international affairs. Of fundamental importance is how to involve the will of the global polity. Professors Falk and Strauss offer fresh thinking and creative ideas for doing just that. This book is a must read for those who care about our common future.” - Mike Moore, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and former Director General of the World Trade Organisation
Developing International Democracy - For a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations (2010)
English | French | Spanish | German | Purchase on Amazon
This paper by the Committee for a Democratic U.N., originally published in 2005, provides a brief overview of the proposal for a UN Parliamentary Assembly and discusses some pertinent issues such as the purpose of a UNPA, legal options for its establishment, its composition, functions and rights, or possible development stages.
The Case for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (2010)
English | German | Purchase on Amazon
This booklet, originally published in 1992, brings together some of the most cogent arguments for establishing a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. It outlines proposals for establishing and implementing the assembly. It is a classic that helped to revive the idea after the end of the Cold War.
The Composition of a Parliamentary Assembly at the United Nations (2010)
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A global parliamentary assembly has the potential to restructure the geopolitical setup of the United Nations. The composition of the body therefore is of fundamental importance. This analysis explores in detail principles and different models.