UN reform: Network of MPs, NGOs welcomes report to be tabled in Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe

29. september 2009

The Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (CEUNPA), a network of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations from over 100 countries, has strongly welcomed the report on United Nations reform which is scheduled to be on the agenda of the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Thursday this week.

The report which was prepared by Swiss parliamentarian Andi Gross and was unanimously passed by the Political Affairs Committee of PACE on 10 September stresses, among other things, that the UN "is in urgent need of far-reaching reform to make it more democratic, transparent, accountable and up to the task of dealing with today’s global challenges." As a means to increase the democratic character of the UN, the report recommends the strengthening of the involvement of elected representatives in the UN's deliberative process: "This involvement should be enhanced progressively: it should start by ensuring that parliamentarians are fully informed of UN activities, culminating with the inclusion in the UN system of a parliamentary assembly with consultative functions for the UN General Assembly." This position would reiterate a recommendation adopted by PACE in January 2006.

"The global system of intergovernmental institutions does not provide for adequate mechanisms which give elected parliamentarians an opportunity to directly participate in its deliberations and decision-making. Neither the UN nor any of its many specialized agencies and programs possess a parliamentary body, not even in an advisory capacity. The PACE report correctly identifies this flaw as a source of the democratic deficit of the UN and global governance," said Andreas Bummel, Head of the CEUNPA Secretariat.

At an international meeting in November 2008 in the European Parliament, CEUNPA in particular dealt with the relationship of the proposed UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) and the association of national parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). It was concluded that both "would be complementary institutions." A document released after the meeting stated that "a UNPA would not replace or duplicate the IPU's functions. Quite the contrary, a UNPA would provide a response to the democratic deficit in global governance which the IPU in its current structure is unable to offer." It is accurate if the PACE report says that "the IPU does not have the capacity nor the ambition to exercise an oversight over UN bodies and institutions," Bummel pointed out.