How could ordinary citizens play a part in the activities of a Parliamentary Assembly?

Unlike with the current ambassadors in various UN bodies, citizens would be able to contact and directly lobby the assembly delegate who represents their country or constituency on issues that concern them. In those countries that progressively provide for the direct election of assembly delegates, citizens would take part in their initial and periodic election.

How would civil society benefit from a Parliamentary Assembly?

A Parliamentary Assembly should provide efficient and innovative means of includingcivil society groups in its work. For instance this could be done through public hearings of the assembly’s committees or co-option of temporary non-voting advisory members at the committee level. In addition, civil society groups can engage with assembly delegates individually. These opportunities would be complementary to existing forms of participation in the United Nations system.

How could a Parliamentary Assembly help to give minorities and indigenous peoples a voice?

Representatives of indigenous peoples and minorities could be elected as delegates of a Parliamentary Assembly through the regular election procedure. In addition, a certain number of seats that are filled through a special procedure could be reserved for representatives of indigenous peoples and minorities. Additionally, the assembly could establish committees on indigenous and minority affairs that would help to bring more public attention to indigenous concerns.

What role could a Parliamentary Assembly play in climate policy?

A different political dynamic would exist in a Parliamentary Assembly compared to current UN intergovernmental bodies and conferences. The members predominantly would be independent, many would belong to national opposition groups and they would organize in cross-national political groups. An assembly and its members thus would be in a better position to develop common global or multilateral solutions and to give less consideration to purely particularist national interests. Delegates would have more legitimate authority in representing the economic concerns of their constituents in regards to climate change remedies. Even as an advisory body, such recommendations and proposals from the assembly could carry significant moral weight and pressure national governments to adopt globally sustainable solutions.

How could a Parliamentary Assembly help to strengthen human rights?

A Parliamentary Assembly could establish its own committee on human rights. This committee would not be under the direct influence of the governments. Different from government representatives on the Human Rights Council, the independent members of the assembly would be able to pay less attention to the diplomatic imperatives of their government and therefore could address human rights issues in a more open manner. In addition, the establishment of inquiry committees on specific situations would be possible. The assembly could also be vested with the right to bring situations to the attention of other parts of the system, including the Human Rights Council or the UN Security Council. In the case of genocide or other severe human rights violations the assembly could give a strong voice to the world public.

How could a Parliamentary Assembly contribute to national democratization?

A Parliamentary Assembly would give a voice to representatives of national parliamentary opposition groups at the UN. Through their international office, opposition members would be in a better position to reach out to the international public. Their position in the home country would be strengthened and a restriction of their rights through the government would be made more difficult. For delegates close to autocratic governments, the experience of participating in an assembly and of cooperating with other delegates from democratic countries could set a powerful example and have a democratizing effect. In addition, the Parliamentary Assembly would strengthen the credibility of the UN in promoting national democratization.

How would a Parliamentary Assembly contribute to peace?

As the members of a Parliamentary Assembly could easily form groups according to their shared political affiliations instead of their national origins, cross-national dialogue and peaceful international cooperation would be strengthened. Delegates with similar political points of view could collaborate across borders. Compared with political appointees, they would be freer to balance national priorities against common, cross-border interests.

How can a Parliamentary Assembly contribute to making the UN’s bureaucracy more efficient and transparent?

A Parliamentary Assembly could exercise independent democratic oversight by being vested with a range of participatory rights, for example of information sharing and summoning UN officials to testify at hearings. An assembly, for instance, could establish inquiry committees to carry out parliamentary investigations in cooperation with the Office of Internal Oversight Services to pursue and resolve charges of fraud, corruption and squander within the UN system.

How can a Parliamentary Assembly improve the effectiveness and legitimacy of international decision-making?

Because of the proportional distribution of seats and the cross-national cooperation of independent delegates, decisions of the assembly would have strong symbolic legitimacy, acceptance and validity. An inclusion of the assembly into international decision-making thus would make international decisions more effective.

What added value would a Parliamentary Assembly provide to the existing UN system?

The members of the Parliamentary Assembly would group themselves by political affiliation rather than by national origin and thus would develop cross-border political identity. A more sophisticated global polity would emerge and mature. UN parliamentarians could be less considerate of diplomatic restraints, would be able to represent their constituents as well as the common interest of humanity and as independent representatives of the people could provide for better oversight of the UN’s activities.