Parliamentary involvement at the UN raised at peace forum in South Korea

15. februari 2019

The need of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, in short UNPA, was raised at an international peace forum organized by civil society in South Korea from 9-11 February. Bringing together participants from all over the world, the PyeongChang Global Peace Forum was held on the occasion of the anniversary of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang one year ago to review and celebrate the peace process on the divided Korean peninsula and to consider international action for the promotion of world peace.

Florence Mutua

The purpose of one of the forum's 19 panels was to discuss an action agenda on United Nations reform in view of the UN's 75th anniversary in 2020. Attending the conference on behalf of the international Campaign for a UNPA, Kenyan parliamentarian Florence Mutua said that the creation of a UNPA should be promoted "as a key reform" in order to increase the UN's democratic legitimacy. "The UN cannot go on as an exclusive club of governments. Otherwise the world organization will not be able to advance much", she noted.

In another panel on "strengthening parliamentarian engagement on international peace and disarmament", among other things, Mutua said that "parliamentarians should not only play a role in galvanizing intergovernmental action and in implementing global commitments nationally. Elected representatives should have a formal role to play in international negotiations and decision-making," adding that "parliamentarians may be able to build bridges where others can’t."

According to Mutua, the UN should establish an "Office for Parliamentary Relations" so that individual parliamentarians, parliaments and other parliamentary institutions have a contact point at the UN. "It is remarkable that such a liaison office does not yet exist", she noted.

The involvement of elected representatives at the UN was also the subject of a study published earlier this month by Democracy Without Borders, an organization Mutua is involved with, too. Acknowledging the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the umbrella organization of national parliaments, the study concluded that a UNPA would be complementary to existing bodies and efforts in this realm.

One of the keynote speakers at the PyeongChang Global Peace Forum was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa from Poland. In past interviews, Walesa is known to have spoken out in favor of a global parliament.

The conference is supposed to be the first step in the development of a "PyeongChang Agenda for Peace 2030."

Top image: Participants of the final plenary hold up signs calling for nuclear disarmament. Source: Asia Democracy Network