UN report: a UN Parliamentary Assembly could serve as a "citizens' advisory body"

25. March 2021

In a global consultation carried out by the United Nations in the course of 2020, citizens worldwide overwhelmingly expressed support of international cooperation but also raised the need for the United Nations to innovate and become more inclusive. Launched to mark the organization’s 75th anniversary, the exercise was the UN’s most ambitious effort so far to gather input from the global public. According to the UN, more than 1.5 million people from 195 countries took part through surveys and dialogues.

An overview of responses and conclusions was provided in a 96-pages report in January. The document points out that some of the most frequently shared and key ideas offered by dialogue participants to renew the UN included stronger moral leadership of the UN, making the UN Security Council more representative, re-consideration of the veto power of permanent members, convening a global intergovernmental conference “to reformulate key aspects and mechanisms of global governance” and improving the participation of non-governmental groups and stakeholders, among other things.

The UN report elaborates on the proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) promoted by Democracy Without Borders and a broad spectrum of civil society organizations from across the world. For instance, the proposal was endorsed in the UN75 People’s Declaration adopted in May 2020 as a common platform of global civil society or put forward by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation at a high-level meeting organized by the UN’s Economic and Social Council in July 2020.

Specifically, the UN75 document observes that “the UN can be democratized” through reforms “such as establishing a UN parliamentary assembly as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly under article 22 of the Charter.”

Further, in a section on an “inclusive and participatory UN system”, it is said that a parliamentary assembly, representative of the voice of the people, “could be established to serve as the citizens’ advisory body to the General Assembly.”

Democracy Without Borders’ Executive Director Andreas Bummel, who is also coordinator of the international Campaign for a UNPA, commented that it was now high time for the UN and member states to seriously consider the proposal. “The UN75 consultations confirm once again that citizens want this to be done”, he said.

Top image: A woman from St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean holds up a sign after completing the UN75 survey. Image: UN