UN's Independent Expert to examine proposals for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

3. November 2012

Statement at the UN General Assembly in New York, in-depth report on international democratic order in preparation

The UN's independent expert on "the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order," Alfred de Zayas from the United States, said on Friday at the United Nations that he is "exploring proposals for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in order to enhance the participation of civil society within international institutions."

The expert in international law and former senior UN official explained in a statement to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that he is working on an in-depth report on

Independent expert Alfred de Zayas with ambassador Laura Dupuy Lasserre from Uruguay, President of the Human Rights Council, May 2012 in Geneva
Image: alfreddezayas.com

equitable and effective participation as mandated by the UN's Human Rights Council last September. The question of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is one of the issues that de Zayas is considering as part of ongoing consultations with governments, inter-governmental organizations and civil society.

The Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an international network of legislators, civil society representatives and experts, welcomed that de Zayas is considering the proposal. "From our point of view, the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is indispensable and long overdue. It is not understandable why citizen-elected representatives should not be formally involved in deliberations and, eventually, decision-making at the United Nations. In other intergovernmental organizations this is taken for granted. A parliamentary assembly would make the UN more vivid, more democratic, and bring it closer to the citizens," commented the campaign's Secretary-General, Andreas Bummel. "We are ready to assist Mr. de Zayas in every possible way," he added.

In a first preliminary report that de Zayas presented in August, the UN's independent expert addressed the "problem of weighting" at votes in UN bodies. He stated that "Democracy can be understood internally but also internationally, since the will of a majority of States in the General Assembly deserves respect. Whereas every member of the General Assembly has an equal right to vote, consideration must also be given to the fact that some States have very large populations and only a single vote, posing a problem of weighting."

According to the resolution of the UN's Human Rights Council that established the mandate last May, the independent expert shall, "identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of a democratic and equitable international order, and submit proposals and/or recommendations to the Human Rights Council on possible actions in that regard." The Human Rights Council specified that from its point of view a democratic and equitable international order requires the realization, inter alia, of the "promotion and consolidation of transparent, democratic, just and accountable international institutions in all areas of cooperation, in particular through the implementation of the principle of full and equal participation in their respective decision-making mechanisms" and "the right to equitable participation of all, without any discrimination, in domestic and global decision-making."

The independent expert’s official website

Top image: The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) during its first meeting of the 67th session on 8 October 2012. UN Photo # 531291