United Nations reform and the Council of Europe member states
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 1 October 2009 (33rd Sitting)
(see Doc. 12018, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur:
Mr Gross). Text adopted by the Assembly on
1 October 2009 (33rd Sitting).
1. The United
Nations was established sixty-four years ago in order to, according
to its charter, “save succeeding generations from the scourge of
war”. Born from the ashes of a global catastrophe, the United Nations
has succeeded in preventing a catastrophe of such dimensions from
occurring again. In addition, credit should be given to the United
Nations for its role in reducing the number of, and death toll from,
conflicts worldwide, especially since the end of the Cold War.
The Parliamentary Assembly considers the United Nations to
be the cornerstone for preventing breaches of peace, achieving the
resolution of conflicts and building peace and confidence in post-conflict situations.
It continues to give the United Nations and multilateralism its
unfailing support, as already stated in its Recommendations 1367
(1998) on the reform of the United Nations and 1476 (2000) on the
United Nations at the turn of the new century, and in its Resolution 1373 (2004)
on the strengthening of the
3. Notwithstanding its considerable achievements in preserving
peace and international security, the United Nations is in urgent
need of far-reaching reform in order to make it more transparent,
accountable and capable of facing the global challenges of today’s
4. The Assembly notes the numerous reform proposals that have
been advanced during recent years and pays tribute to former United
Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his efforts to promote
a comprehensive reform of the organisation.
However, the Assembly regrets that there has so far been no
reform proposal aimed at improving the democratic character of the
United Nations. In this context, the Assembly recalls its well-established
position in support of the introduction of a parliamentary dimension
of the United Nations, as set forth in its Resolution 1476 (2006)
on the parliamentary dimension of the United Nations,
in order to improve the transparency, accountability and democratic
oversight of the organisation and bridge the gap between the United
Nations and the public.
6. The incorporation of a democratic element into the United
Nations system has become even more necessary as a response to the
process of globalisation: only global governance can face up to
its challenges, and such global governance, embodied in the United
Nations, must be based on democratic principles.
7. As to institutional reform, the Assembly reiterates its conviction
that the role and the authority of the United Nations General Assembly
as “the premier decision-making and political body of the United
Nations” should be restored. This role could be further strengthened
by the introduction, or the reinforcement, of a parliamentary element
in the structure of the UN General Assembly, composed of either
representatives of the parliamentary assemblies of each country
or directly elected representatives.
8. As regards the reform of the United Nations Security Council,
which has proved to be the most elusive aspect of the reform effort,
the Assembly expresses its support for the idea, as proposed by
France and the United Kingdom, of a transitional reform of the Security
Council as a way of overcoming the long-lasting deadlock, and welcomes
the new impetus in the negotiation process, which started in February
9. The Assembly is anxious to ensure that the protection of human
rights worldwide takes precedence over other considerations and
therefore believes that any reform of the United Nations Security
Council should be such as to enable this body to act swiftly in
the case of actual or threatened serious and widespread human rights
violations and that its action should not be impeded by the exercise
of the right to veto by the permanent members of the Security Council.
10. In addition, the Assembly encourages the holding of negotiations
on a reform of the Security Council’s working methods outside the
framework of the negotiations of a comprehensive reform package.
The aim of this reform should be to improve the transparency of
the work of the Security Council and make it possible for non-member
states to have easier access to it and to be able to express their
concerns when they feel that their interests are at stake.
In the light of the above, the Assembly recommends that Council
of Europe member states reach a common position as regards:
11.1 a transitional reform of the
Security Council, based on the establishment of a new category of non-permanent
seats, which could be held for a longer period of time than in the
11.2 the prohibition of recourse to the veto in the case of
actual or threatened serious and widespread human rights violations;
11.3 a free-standing reform of the working methods of the Security
Council, outside the framework of the broader reform process;
11.4 ways to restore the role and the authority of the General
Assembly, including by introducing or reinforcing a parliamentary
11.5 ways to improve the interaction between the Security Council
and the General Assembly.
12. The Assembly also invites the governments of Council of Europe
member states to co-operate in order to draw up an inventory of
all their different reform groups and proposals.