European Parliament calls for Parliamentary Chamber at the UN
Larry Kazdan | June 8, 2011 at 04:38 pmby
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Although the United Nations is recognized as the world's most legitimate, universal international organization, the organization was set up merely as a forum for governments, with decisions made only by agents of government, and with national interest the guiding factor. As a consequence, reform of the UN system has been very difficult, and progress on the potentially catastrophic issues of our times exceedingly slow.
The European Parliament's June 2011 recommendation to the Council of the European Union which is responsible for the bloc’s foreign and security policy, advocates establishing a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) within the UN system in order to increase the democratic accountability and transparency of global governance, acknowledging that a UNPA would be complementary to existing bodies. The proposal was jointly supported by conservative and liberal Members of the EP.
Under UN Charter Article 22, a UNPA could be created as a subsidiary body without the need for approval by the Security Council and without reforming the Charter itself. As a transitional measure until direct elections become possible, national parliaments could second MPs to the UNPA in proportion to party standings. Unlike UN ambassadors, UNPA parliamentarians would not take instruction from national governments, but would be directly accountable to citizens, and mandated to act according to conscience and the common good.
It is not surprising that as the world and its regions have become ever more interconnected, parliamentary institutions above the country level have been created at a furious pace. A recent study has found that there are currently over 150 International Parliamentary Institutions. NATO, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth, and Francophonie all have parliamentary chambers. The Pan-African Parliament became operational in March 2004, and a South American Parliament is in the planning stage.
Perhaps the most well-known IPI is the European Parliament itself which helps over 492 million Europeans manage their mutual interests. During the period of “Eurosclerosis” in the 1980s, the EP played a key role in prodding decision-makers to overcome constitutional logjams, and the EP continues to let citizens and NGOs have direct influence on European Union proceedings.
Around the world, demand for democracy is growing, and the civil-society led Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, part of that forward surge, provides a particular opportunity for Canadian diplomacy. The UNPA Campaign has deep Canadian roots. The seminal Case for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly was written by a Canadian in 1992. The Canadian House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee iterated its support for the UNPA concept in its June 2007 report.
Endorsement of the UNPA Campaign has also been received from 737 sitting members of national parliaments in 98 countries, from 5 Nobel laureates, 10 former foreign ministers, 5 former prime ministers and people from all walks of life. Individuals are welcome to join the UNPA Appeal online.
These members have powered this story: