Last week, the UN’s first Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, presented his seventh and final report to the Human Rights Council at an event on the margins of the Council’s 37th session in Geneva. In the document, the expert surveys his previous reports to the Council and the UN General Assembly and highlights numerous recommendations on issues such as strengthening democracy, the right of self-determination, the social responsibility of business corporations, bilateral investment treaties, free trade agreements, military expenditure, tax evasion, reform of the United Nations system and the obligations of intergovernmental organizations. Relative to a reform of the United Nations the expert suggested an expansion of the membership of the Security Council and a limitation of the veto power of the permanent five members. “The use of the veto power to shield States from criticism or sanctions is illegitimate,” the document says. Another proposal which was raised again in the final report is the creation of a World Parliamentary Assembly. “The idea is to address democracy deficits by giving expression to global public opinion and including citizens in global decision-making through elected officials,” the report explains. “In a time where we see less connection between the will of peoples and the policies put forward in their name, the world’s citizens need representation on the global stage. Democratic initiatives, including the proposal to create a World Parliamentary Assembly, would include all citizens in global decision-making and give voice to currently neglected global public opinion”, the independent expert commented in a statement. In 2013, Mr. de Zayas recommended to the UN General Assembly to consider “a conference to discuss promising initiatives such as the creation of a World Parliamentary Assembly and a World Court of Human Rights.” He said at the time that in order for global decision-making to be genuinely representative, the establishment of a parliamentary assembly was “imperative”. The proposal of a UN Parliamentary Assembly is supported by over 1,500 current and former members of parliament and numerous UN experts. A prime supporter quoted in Mr. de Zayas’ final report was former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

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