European Parliament calls on EU to foster a debate on "establishing a UN Parliamentary Assembly"

6. July 2017

In a resolution adopted yesterday on the European Union's policy at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly which will start in September, the European Parliament has called on the Council of the European Union to foster a debate "on the topic of establishing a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly" (UNPA).

Jo Leinen MEP during the plenary debate on July 4 (picture: EP)

The resolution that will be formally forwarded to the Council by the parliament's president Antonio Tajani adds that a UNPA should be discussed "with a view to increasing the democratic profile and internal democratic process" of the United Nations and "to allow world civil society to be directly associated in the decision-making process."

European lawmaker Jo Leinen (S&D) who had initiated that the recommendation on a UNPA was included in the resolution said that "this year's recommendations of the European Parliament relative to the 72nd UN General Assembly once again include a call on the Council of the EU to promote the idea of a UN Parliamentary Assembly. The G20 summit in Hamburg illustrates very well that there is no proper world order. While 20 countries take decisions, 175 UN member states are excluded. This is not sustainable. Through the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly citizen-elected representatives of all peoples are provided with a real voice in the global system."

"International organizations should be subject of public oversight and not of obscure and secret diplomacy. I support the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly inside the UN system in order to create opportunities for stronger participation of the public in the activities of the United Nations," said Elmar Brok (EPP), a member of the European Parliament, former long-time chair of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and president of the Union of European Federalists.

The rapporteur responsible for the resolution, European lawmaker Andrey Kovatchev (EPP), stated that "there is a growing need for transparency and democratic accountability. I believe that encouraging a debate on the topic of establishing a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly is a step in the right direction."

Andrey Kovatchev MEP introducing the report in the plenary (picture: EP)

He added that "the United Nations should consider all options available for increasing democratic legitimacy and regaining the trust of the people. The international community together with the civil society should come up with an alternative to the recurrent deadlock of the UN system. Moreover, this debate would further strengthen the world civil society and foster public engagement."

Last year, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, stated that a UNPA "could be a very useful tool." Before assuming her current position she endorsed the international campaign for a UNPA as an Italian deputy. By now, around 1,500 current and former members of parliament expressed support.

The coordinator of the campaign, Andreas Bummel, welcomed the European Parliament's call on the Council. In May the campaign hosted an inofficial information meeting on a UNPA in New York in collaboration with the Canadian UN mission which brought together civil society experts and representatives of 12 governments.

"With this resolution the European Parliament as the representative body of the EU's citizens has made it clear that it supports a serious debate on this issue and that it would like to see EU governments to play a proactive role on this topic during the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly," Mr. Bummel said.

The European Parliament's support for a UNPA is long established. A first resolution on the subject was adopted in 1994.

Top image: The EP plenary. From the archives of the European Parliament


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07 November 2016: Union of European Federalists strengthens support for a UN Parliamentary Assembly

24 February 2016: EU's Foreign Minister confirms her support of a UN Parliamentary Assembly

8 June 2011: Call on EU Council to support UN Parliamentary Assembly adopted