Parliamentarians call for reform of UN

Switzerland has been a member of the UN since 2002

Around 100 Swiss politicians are calling on the United Nations to establish a democratically elected parliament within the world body.

This content was published on February 9, 2005

They say the creation of a “world parliament” would reinforce the organisation’s credibility and help to speed up reform of the UN.

“The advantages of a parliamentary assembly within the UN would be numerous,” wrote Swiss parliamentarians in an open letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Speaking at a press conference in Bern on Wednesday, Swiss parliamentarian Remo Gysin said the time had come to restructure the UN and make it more accountable to the people.

“We have reached a stage where it is acknowledged that the UN is in need of reform,” said Gysin, who was one of the promoters of Switzerland’s membership of the world body in 2002.

“[A parliamentary assembly] would act as a link between civil society and the complex world of international politics,” he added.

He said such a move would boost the UN’s credibility as it preached the virtues of democracy around the world. Gysin added that it would also increase confidence in the organisation.

This suffered yet another dent last week following the publication of a highly critical report into the UN’s oil-for-food programme.

Cross-party support

Hanspeter Bigler, head of the Swiss section of the Society for Threatened Peoples, said a UN parliamentary assembly could initially operate along the same lines as the European Parliament.

The democratically elected body could guarantee access to information, as well as monitor and participate in UN decision-making. Bigler said the assembly could be granted real political powers in the long term.

He added that it would be made up of between 700 and 900 members and would cost up to SFr200 million ($164 million) a year to run.

The signatories of the letter were drawn from all political parties, with the exception of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

The letter mirrors a similar appeal in September last year by the Committee for a Democratic UN.

The idea of a UN parliamentary assembly is also supported by the Canadian and German governments, as well as the European Parliament.

“We are not alone - we are adding our support to a campaign that is growing in strength,” added Gysin.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The UN parliamentary assembly would be made up of up to 900 members.
Switzerland would elect up to five parliamentarians.
The assembly would cost up to SFr200 million a year to run.
108 Swiss parliamentarians support the idea.

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