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

26. September 2019

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