Sukehiro Hasegawa

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for a UN Parliamentary Assembly that can address human security and other global issues of direct concern to the people around the world more directly than other organs of the United Nations. The existing UN General Assembly and the Security Council represent the executive branch of sovereign states that are primarily concerned with national security and interests. The world needs to transcend the Westphalian system of independent states to a world federation to deal with global issues such as coronavirus pandemic, climate change, arms proliferation and international terrorism by the norms and standards set by its Parliamentary Assembly.

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.

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.

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.

New York: People's Assembly calls for better participation and representation at the UN

Civil society conference in New York calls for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

An alternative People's Assembly on the implementation of the UN's Sustainable Development goals was held this week in parallel to the high-level debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly and the UN's SDG Summit in New York. 

Organized by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty in partnership with dozens of civil society groups from across the world, the event adopted a final statement yesterday calling on the world's government to address numerous urgent demands in the areas of peace and conflict, climate and the environment, inequality, "decent work and descent", gender, persons with disabilities, and civic space.

According to the declaration, "the world is on fire" and governments have showed "persisting lack of political will and leadership" to deal with profound inequality, climate emergency, a crisis of human rights and closing civic space and violence. The statement points out that "we live in a world where there is a crisis of accountability and governance."

The People's Assembly has identified more than 30 specific demands that are included in the document. In the area of civic space, the participants urge "United Nations member states to take proactive measures to reverse the closing of space for civil society, to end the attacks on human rights defenders and to expand democratic participation."

The statement demands that "existing structures are reinvigorated and others are formed to ensure that citizens of the world have a greater voice in global affairs, including a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and a UN World Citizens' Initiative."

The call for a UN Parliamentary Assembly and a UN World Citizens' Initiative was strongly welcomed by Democracy Without Borders, an international civil society group that helps coordinate international campaigns on both projects. 

Creating more space "needs to be part of addressing the crisis of multilateralism"

"Civil society is strengthening its call for better participation and representation at the UN ahead of the world organization's 75th anniversary. It is high time for progressive governments to take action," said Andreas Bummel, Executive Director of Democracy Without Borders and coordinator of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, in short UNPA. 

According to Mr. Bummel, the new Alliance for Multilateralism that will be launched by Germany and France today in New York, should consider pushing both projects forward. "Creating more space for citizens, civil society and elected representatives at the UN will help build trust and confidence in the world organization and needs to be part of addressing the crisis of multilateralism," he said.

The UNPA campaign has been endorsed by over 1,600 current and former members of parliament as well as hundreds of civil society organizations and networks. More recently, Together 2030, a coalition of over 700 civil society groups, supported the call for a UN Parliamentary Assembly as well.

Top image: Participants mobilize on the street next to the UN General Assembly. Photo: Action for Sustainable Development / Twitter @Action4SD

More information

People's Assembly declaration

14 June 2019: Together 2030 civil society coalition endorses a UN Parliamentary Assembly

Australian government should push for a parliamentary UN body, says citizens group

A UN Parliamentary Assembly to support global democracy / Proposal presented in Canberra

Following an expert symposium on UN reform in Canberra, the World Citizens Association of Australia called on the Morrison government and the opposition to endorse the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, in short UNPA.

Former Australian Senator Bob Brown (left) and Andreas Bummel, Campaign for a UNPA

“This new UN body will improve the democratic character of the United Nations and help strengthening democracy worldwide,” said the organizations’ Secretary, Chris Hamer.

“Next year the UN will commemorate its 75th anniversary. This is a good moment to consider renewal and improvement. A UN Parliamentary Assembly is a key proposal that should be on the agenda,” said Pera Wells, a former Australian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the World Federation of UN Associations. “Australia as one of the original founding members of the UN should take a lead,” she added.

“The purpose of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is to strengthen the voice of citizen-elected representatives at the UN and in global affairs. This will help bringing the UN closer to citizens and making it more accountable and responsive,” explained Andreas Bummel, global coordinator of the international Campaign for a UNPA who was visiting from Germany. 

Since its launch the campaign has been endorsed by over 1,600 current and former members of parliament from more than 100 countries and across party lines. This includes five current and seven former parliamentarians from Australia.

The former Senator and former leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, said at the symposium that a global parliament was needed to deal with climate change. “It is necessary for human survival,” he stated.

The UN’s 75th anniversary in 2020 will be commemorated under the theme “The future we want, the UN we need.” Member states are encouraged to share their views on this topic.

The symposium “Towards a more democratic United Nations” was held at The Australian National University and was sponsored by the World Citizens Association of Australia, the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, the Crawford School of Public Policy and the Institute for Global Peace and Sustainable Governance.

Image: Australian Parliament in Canberra, by Ryan Wick/Flickr