Former WTO Director-General endorses creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly

18. July 2009

In a comment published today, the former Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mike Moore, has spoken out for the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA). "The global architecture is in need of refurbishing. It is necessary to build democratic principles into global governance," said Moore who was also Member of Parliament for the New Zealand Labour Party for over 20 years. During his term at the WTO from 1999 to 2002, Moore gave particular attention to helping poor countries participate more effectively in the multilateral trading system. He actively supported global parliamentary meetings on international trade and thus contributed to the formation of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO in 2003 which is jointly organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament. In his recent statement Moore highlights the ongoing "trend of the globalization of public policy issues" and points out that "informal ways of involving elected representatives in international institutions are no longer sufficient. A bolder step is necessary. The creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly composed of national legislators could be part of the solution." According to Moore, a UNPA could help to make "our irreplaceable international instutions more relevant and answerable to the people."

The view that parliamentary involvement in international affairs needs to be strengthened by the establishment of a formal body is by now shared by a wide range of political institutions and opinion leaders. The European Parliament, for instance, not only endorses the creation of a UNPA; in a resolution adopted in April 2008 it stressed "the need to create a WTO parliamentary assembly with consultative powers, given the WTO’s lack of democratic accountability and legitimacy." According to former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali a separate body for the WTO would not be necessary because a UNPA at the same time could act as a body which also provides for "democratic oversight over the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO." On the occasion of the G8 Summit in London in April 2009, the Campaign for the Establishment of a UNPA, a global network of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations, claimed that a UNPA " should be an important part of the renewed system of international financial and economic governance."