Update on UN Parliamentary Assembly Campaign
On November 5th, the Senate of the Republic of Argentina became the first national parliament to adopt a resolution unconditionally calling for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA), an advisory body that would review the activities of the UN and give citizens for the first time direct representation at the global level. Though many international bodies such as NATO, OSCE, and the Commonwealth have parliamentary chambers, the United Nations does not. Ambassadors to the UN answer only to their governments, not their respective fellow citizens, and usually advocate for national concerns. Proponents believe that a UNPA would act as a symbol of global community, a world conscience, and a lever for further UN reform. A UNPA could be created without the approval of the Security Council and without reforming the UN Charter. Article 22 of the existing Charter allows the General Assembly to create its own subsidiary bodies. Until direct elections can be held worldwide, national parliaments could second selected members in proportion to party representation. This would mirror the evolution of the European Parliament (EP) which switched to direct election in 1979. The EP provided mechanisms whereby citizens and NGOs could have direct influence on EU proceedings, helped Europe develop new ways to manage common problems, and thereby transcend the violent inter-state conflicts of the twentieth century. The UNPA concept has also been endorsed by the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Pan-African Parliament and the Latin American Parliament's Commission on Political Affairs. Since 2007, an international appeal for such an assembly (detailed at www.unpacampaign.org) has been endorsed individually by over 525 sitting parliamentarians from over 80 countries encompassing all the world's major regions. In Canada, the Campaign is also supported by many prominent Canadians including John Turner, Lloyd Axworthy, Flora MacDonald, Ed Broadbent and Elizabeth May. In a report adopted in June 2007, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development under Conservative chairman Kevin Sorenson recommended that "the Parliament of Canada should give favourable consideration to the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly". According to Fergus Watt, Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement-Canada, a member of the UNPA Campaign steering committee, "a United Nations Parliamentay Assembly would help foster a sense of global community and create a powerful constituency for a United Nations system better equipped to tackle the many challenges ahead." To endorse the UNPA online and receive news of the ongoing campaign, go to www.unpacampaign.org
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