Conferences and colloquies

Provisional edition

United Nations reform and the Council of Europe member states

Resolution 1688 (2009)1

1.       The United Nations was established 64 years ago in order to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Born on the ashes of a global catastrophe, the United Nations has succeeded in preventing a catastrophe of such dimensions occurring again. In addition, credit should be given to the United Nations for its role in reducing the number and the death toll of conflicts worldwide, especially since the end of the Cold War.

2.       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 unabated support, as already stated in its Recommendations 1367 (1998) on Reform of the United Nations, 1476 (2000) on the United Nations at the turn of the new century, and its Resolution 1373 (2004) on Strengthening of the United Nations.

3.       Notwithstanding its considerable achievements in preserving peace and international security, the United Nations is in urgent need of a far-reaching reform in order to make it more transparent, accountable and capable of facing the global challenges of today’s world.

4.       The Assembly notes the numerous reform proposals that have been advanced over the last years and pays tribute to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his efforts to promote a comprehensive reform of the Organisation.

5.       The Assembly, however, regrets that, so far, there has 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 people.

6. The incorporation of a democratic element in 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 chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ 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 either by representatives of international regional parliamentary assemblies 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 of a transitional reform of the United Nations Security Council as a way of overcoming the long-lasting deadlock, as proposed by France and the United Kingdom, while welcoming the new impetus in the negotiation process which started in February 2009.

9. Concerned to ensure that the protection of human rights worldwide takes precedence over other considerations, the Assembly 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 over a reform of the Security Council’s working methods outside the framework of the negotiation 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 states which are not members of it to have easier access to it and express their concerns when they feel that their interests are at stake.

11. In the light of the above, the Assembly recommends to Council of Europe member states to 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 current system;

    11.2.       the prohibition of the 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 dimension;

    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.

1 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).

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