by Lisa Schüller, UNPA Campaign Program Associate, New York
The Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) has recorded numerous positive developments since May 2017. A significant milestone was reached in August when the 1500th member of parliament endorsed the campaign. On this occasion, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs of India’s Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor, reiterated his support and congratulated the campaign “on its sustained efforts to make a UN Parliamentary Assembly a reality.”
Calling for a “world parliament” to enable democratic representation of the world’s population and strengthen the United Nations’ legitimacy, the campaign appeals for “a gradual implementation of democratic participation and representation at the global level.”
The UNPA campaign has a great number of supporters all over the world, including not only individuals such as former UN officials, distinguished scholars, cultural innovators and representatives of civil society organizations, but also
parliamentary institutions. Only six months after the campaign was launched in 2007, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) adopted a resolution in favor of the UNPA and has since been a strong advocate. In a second resolution adopted in May 2016, the PAP called on the African Union governments to support a UNPA. In October 2017, the coordinator of the UNPA campaign, Andreas Bummel was invited to the opening ceremony of the 5th ordinary session of the PAP. Addressing the parliament’s plenary, he congratulated the PAP on its “pioneering role” and referred to the UN’s upcoming 75th anniversary in 2020 as “a good opportunity to put reform proposals such as a UNPA onto the agenda.”
In addition to the PAP, the European Parliament has also proven to be a supporter of the UNPA on various occasions. In a resolution adopted in July 2017, it once again endorsed a UNPA and called on the Council of the European Union to foster discussions on its creation at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly that started in September 2017. The European lawmaker Jo Leinen had suggested to include the topic in the resolution, stressing that “through the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly citizen-elected representatives of all people are provided with a real voice in the global system.” He stated that, unlike the G20 summit, a UN parliament would include all UN member states, providing real democratic representations of the world’s citizens. Mr. Bummel pointed out that the resolution once more points out the necessity of a “serious debate on this issue and that the representative body of the EU citizens would like to see EU governments play a proactive role on this topic.”
In August, the UNPA received yet another noteworthy endorsement when the President of the Commission on Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic, Victor Suárez Díaz, declared the Commission’s support of the efforts for “a UN Parliamentary Assembly both at the global level as well as from our region in the Caribbean”. Fernando Iglesias, Council Chair of the World Federalist Movement expressed his appreciation and stated that following previous endorsements from Argentina, “the Dominican Republic’s parliament could become the second one in the Latin American and Caribbean region to support the initiative of giving a real voice to the citizens of the world.”
Another meeting at which the UNPA campaign was represented took place in The Hague in May. Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) organized a roundtable on the topic of increasing democratic representation and accountability at the UN. The event was hosted by the House of Representatives of the Netherlands and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. In the course of discussions regarding possible ways of improving the democratic representation and accountability at the UN, the creation of a UNPA was also debated. Mr. Bummel gave a presentation on the establishment of a UNPA based on Article 22 of the UN Charter.
Further strong encouragement was given from the German United Nations Association which expressed its support of a UNPA in a catalogue of demands on German UN policy published prior to the German federal elections in September. Moreover, a workshop on global democracy and a UNPA was held at the alternative “Global Solidarity Summit” organized by civil society in advance of the G20 meeting in Hamburg in July. In June, a Guinness World Record was dedicated to world peace, global democracy and a UNPA when more than 700 women from India and various countries came together to knit the world’s longest scarf as a powerful message of peace and solidarity.