Wednesday, 20 January 2021

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Time for a global United Nations Parliamentary Assembly

UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

The United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, joined calls for the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly - a global body of elected representatives to "remedy democratic deficits by giving voice to global public opinion, including citizens in global decision-making through elected officials."

In his second report* to the UN General Assembly, Mr. de Zayas urged States to ensure more democratic and equitable participation of all countries in the UN Security Council and other UN organs.

In particular, he noted, the financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization "should be placed under the authority of the United Nations in accordance with articles 57 and 63 of the Charter, and should be subordinated to the Purposes and Principles of the Charter."

"It is widely acknowledged that the composition of the Security Council is undemocratic and that the Bretton Woods institutions work without the necessary transparency and accountability," the expert said. He urged States to renew their efforts at reforming the UN to make it more democratic and equitable, in particular the Security Council, in order to reflect better "the needs and priorities of present and future generations instead of the 1945 world order."

Quoting former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Independent Expert said: "A United Nations Parliamentary Assembly – a global body of elected representatives – could invigorate our institutions of global governance with unprecedented democratic legitimacy, transparency and accountability."

During the presentation of his report, Mr. de Zayas explained that such global body could be set up by a vote of the UN General Assembly under Article 22 of the UN Charter, or it could be created on the basis of a new international treaty between governments, followed by an agreement linking it to the UN. Neither mechanism requires Charter amendment or reform, he stressed.

"Global decisions would gain greater legitimacy through citizen input and involvement in an independent World Assembly with consultative functions, or in a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly representing people as well as States," the expert said.

A UN Parliamentary Assembly with consultative powers to advance the democratic agenda could be initially composed of parliamentarians from UN member States and observer States, and subsequently of directly elected representatives, the UN Independent Expert explained.

(*) Check the full report here.

Additional information:

  • Alfred de Zayas (United States of America) was appointed as the first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council, effective May 2012. He is currently professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy. Mr. de Zayas practiced corporate law and family law in New York and Florida. As a Human Rights Council's mandate holder, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on here.

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