The document says that three proposals should be implemented: a UN World Citizens’ Initiative which enables people to put forward proposals on key issues of global concern; a UN Parliamentary Assembly which includes elected representatives; and a high-level UN Civil Society Envoy to enable greater participation of civil society representatives.
The statement lends political support to a global campaign of 200 civil society groups rallying for these reform ideas dubbed “We The Peoples” in reference to the opening words of the UN’s Charter. It follows on a report of UN Secretary-General António Guterres titled “Our Common Agenda” which highlighted the need for greater participation and inclusion of various stakeholders in the UN’s work but fell short of recommending institutional changes. According to the lawmakers, “current mechanisms are not sufficient,” however.
Member of Australian Parliament and signatory of the statement Andrew Leigh had a message for politicians around the world: “Strengthening democracy should be a priority for all parliamentarians. By making international institutions more accessible to citizens, we can strengthen trust and make these organizations more effective.”
“Strengthening global democracy is a must in a globalized world facing major challenges,” said Swiss parliamentarian Nicolas Walder, echoing the campaign’s call that global issues require global solutions that are worked out together with citizens.
South African lawmaker Ashor Sarupen joined the plea by stating: “The UN must reform if it is to remain relevant to the modern world. Voters are increasingly demanding accountability and accessibility. It’s not enough to represent views of states when citizens in those states are divided, or are repressed.”
On the added value of civil society to global governance structures, Member of Parliament Susanne Menge from Germany said: “Involving civil society representatives would help to strengthen partnership-based cooperation against power-political interests and to strengthen social and ecological competence in our world.”
Angela Brown Burke from the Jamaican parliament commented that “people must be placed center stage especially as they are directly affected by the decisions taken by governments” at the UN.
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, a Member of Parliament from Malaysia, said: "Change is deeply needed at the United Nations. I strongly believe that the spirit and proposals embodied in the statement will help the UN to emerge stronger in dealing with existential issues like climate change, poverty, hunger, violence and exclusion."
Democracy International, Democracy Without Borders, and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation are the organizations leading the “We The Peoples” campaign. They commented that the support of parliamentarians from around the world sends a strong signal that, in the midst of a global pandemic and the climate crisis, global governance urgently requires a democratic transformation in order to bring ordinary citizens closer to the UN and global decision-making.
Find the full parliamentary statement and list of signatories here: https://www.wethepeoples.org/mpstatement/
Caroline Vernaillen, Democracy International
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