The reform of the Security Council, for example, has kept legions of diplomats busy over the past decades. By contrast to this, however, a third dimension of democratization is almost completely neglected: Developing global democracy beyond states.
This project includes the task of giving the world’s citizens a more direct say in global affairs. A direct link between global institutions and the people on the spot needs to be established. But how could such a project of global democratization be approached?
One indispensable means to this end is the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. A growing international movement advocating this goal has gained impressive political support over the last years. The endorsers of the proposal include the European Parliament, the Pan-African Parliament, the Latin American Parliament, the Senate of Argentina and over 700 members of parliament from around the world.
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. Initially, the assembly could have a largely consultative function. Over time its authority and powers could evolve. It could be complementary to the UN General Assembly and its establishment, in the first step at least, would not require a cumbersome reform of the UN Charter. President Barack Obama recently stated that the absence of oversight is one of the major problems we are facing with regard to the international financial system. A global parliamentary assembly could play an important role in exercising genuine and independent oversight over the global system’s array of institutions.
On the economic front, a Parliamentary Assembly at the UN could facilitate the alignment of the Washington-based Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization with the policies of the UN, in particular the Millennium Development Goals. The assembly could monitor the impact of the policies of the international financial and economic institutions in fields such as sustainable development, food security, education, public health, human rights and the eradication of extreme poverty.
Establishing a global parliamentary body, of course, is a complex matter.