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UN's Independent Expert to examine proposals for a UN Parliamentary Assembly
an article by UN Parliamentary Assembly Campaign

The UN's independent expert on "the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order," Alfred de Zayas from the United States, said on Friday [November 2] at the United Nations that he is "exploring proposals for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in order to enhance the participation of civil society within international institutions."

The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) during its first meeting of the 67th session on 8 October 2012. UN Photo # 531291

click on photo to enlarge

The expert in international law and former senior UN official explained in a statement to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that he is working on an in-depth report on equitable and effective participation as mandated by the UN's Human Rights Council last September. The question of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is one of the issues that de Zayas is considering as part of ongoing consultations with governments, inter-governmental organizations and civil society.

The Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an international network of legislators, civil society representatives and experts, welcomed that de Zayas is considering the proposal. "From our point of view, the establishment of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is indispensable and long overdue. It is not understandable why citizen-elected representatives should not be formally involved in deliberations and, eventually, decision-making at the United Nations. In other intergovernmental organizations this is taken for granted. A parliamentary assembly would make the UN more vivid, more democratic, and bring it closer to the citizens," commented the campaign's Secretary-General, Andreas Bummel. "We are ready to assist Mr. de Zayas in every possible way," he added.

In a first preliminary report that de Zayas presented in August, the UN's independent expert addressed the "problem of weighting" at votes in UN bodies. He stated that "Democracy can be understood internally but also internationally, since the will of a majority of States in the General Assembly deserves respect. Whereas every member of the General Assembly has an equal right to vote, consideration must also be given to the fact that some States have very large populations and only a single vote, posing a problem of weighting."

According to the resolution of the UN's Human Rights Council that established the mandate last May, the independent expert shall, "identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of a democratic and equitable international order, and submit proposals and/or recommendations to the Human Rights Council on possible actions in that regard." The Human Rights Council specified that from its point of view a democratic and equitable international order requires the realization, inter alia, of the "promotion and consolidation of transparent, democratic, just and accountable international institutions in all areas of cooperation, in particular through the implementation of the principle of full and equal participation in their respective decision-making mechanisms" and "the right to equitable participation of all, without any discrimination, in domestic and global decision-making."

For more information on the Independent Expert, click here.

(Click here for a French version of this article or here for a Spanish version.)


Question(s) related to this article:

Can the UN become a global democracy?,

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Latest reader comment:

This question applies to three articles:
UN's Independent Expert to examine proposals for a UN Parliamentary Assembly
L'expert indépendant de l'ONU va examiner les propositions de création d'une APNU
Experto Independiente de la ONU examina propuestas para una Asamblea Parlamentaria

This report was posted on November 24, 2012.