Swiss Senate calls on federal government to consider a UN Parliamentary Assembly

3. December 2018

Swiss Senators unanimously request a statement on the UN's democratic deficit 

Senator Daniel Jositsch (Picture: Facebook, 03/12/2018)

A postulate submitted last week by Daniel Jositsch, a member of the Swiss Senate from Zurich, instructs the federal government of Switzerland to report on whether it perceives a democratic deficit to exist at the United Nations and whether "the creation of a parliamentary assembly within the UN" may be an appropriate step to address such a deficit. The document explains that the suggested new body may be understood "in the sense of a second chamber that represents the population analogous to the Swiss system."

The explanatory statement of the initiative, supported by all 46 members of the upper chamber of Switzerland's parliament, stresses that the structure of the UN still reflects the situation after the Second World War. The document points out, however, that the situation has changed and that the structures of the UN established at the time "cannot last forever." It goes on to say that it is necessary to democratize the world organization. According to Jositsch and the other Senators, Switzerland could play "an important role" in this process "as a neutral small state with its two-chamber system, which attaches special importance to the cantons in the structure of the state." In particular, the question arises "whether a parliamentary assembly could be considered as a supplement to today's United Nations General Assembly".

The initiative refers to a resolution of the European Parliament of July calling on the governments of the European Union to pursue the establishment of a parliamentary assembly at the UN (UNPA).

"The worsening crisis in international cooperation shows that new ways must be found to combat global problems", Jositsch welcomed the resolution at the time. The Senator is Co-President of an international parliamentary group for a UNPA that was created last month. Worldwide the international campaign for a UNPA was supported so far by more than 1,500 parliamentarians.

It is not the first time that Swiss parliamentarians draw international attention with an initiative concerning a UNPA. In February 2005, a majority of the National Council and members of the Senate called on then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to include the proposal into the official reform agenda of the United Nations.

In his reaction to the decision of the European Parliament, Jositsch stressed that now "concrete implementation measures" are needed.

Picture: Hall of the Council of States in Bern, ©