Alfred de Zayas-en azken txostena

UN expert highlights proposal of a World Parliamentary Assembly in final report


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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 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.

Zazpigarren eta azken txostena


D. Criteria for the exercise of self-determination

  1. The General Assembly, in its resolution 2625 (XXV), repeatedly reaffirmed the right of self-determination and stipulated that the establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination.

  2. In his 2014 report to the General Assembly, the Independent Expert focused on the criteria for the exercise of the right of self-determination (see A/69/272, paras. 63–77). The following paragraphs contain certain central ideas taken from that report.

  3. The right is not extinguished by the lapse of time because, just as in the case of the rights to life, freedom and identity, it is too important to be waived. All manifestations of self-determination are on the table: from a full guarantee of cultural, linguistic and religious rights, to various models of autonomy, to special status in a federal State, to secession and full independence, to unification of two State entities, to cross-border and regional cooperation.

  4. The implementation of self-determination is not exclusively within the national jurisdiction of the State concerned, but is a legitimate concern of the international community.

  5. International law evolves through practice and precedents. The independence of the former Soviet republics and the secession of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia created precedents for the implementation of self-determination that must be considered whenever self-determination disputes arise.

  6. The aspiration of peoples to fully exercise the right of self-determination did not end with decolonization. There are many indigenous peoples, non-self-governing peoples and populations living under occupation who still strive for self-determination. Their aspirations must be taken seriously for the sake of conflict prevention. The post-colonial world left a legacy of frontiers that do not correspond to ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic criteria. This is a continuing source of tension that may require adjustment in keeping with Article 2 (3) of the Charter. The doctrine of uti possidetis is obsolete and its maintenance in the twenty-first century without the possibility of peaceful adjustments may perpetuate human rights violations.

  7. The United Nations could be called upon to assist in the preparation of models of autonomy, federalism and, eventually, referendums. A reliable method of determining public opinion and avoiding manufactured consent must be devised so as to ensure the authenticity of the expression of public will in the absence of threats of or the use of force. Long-standing historical links to a territory or region, religious links to sacred sites, the consciousness of the heritage of prior generations, as well as a subjective identification with a territory, must be given due weight.

  1. Agreements with persons who are not properly authorized to represent the populations concerned and a fortiori agreements with puppet representatives are invalid. In the absence of a process of good-faith negotiation or plebiscites, there is a danger of armed revolt. A consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights against a population negates the legitimacy of the exercise of governmental power. In case of unrest, dialogue must first be engaged in the hope of redressing grievances. States may not first provoke the population by committing grave human rights abuses and then invoke the right of self-defence in justification of the use of force against them. That would violate the principle of estoppel. No doctrine, not that of territorial integrity nor that of selfdetermination, justifies massacres; neither doctrine can derogate from the right to life. Norms are not mathematics and must be applied with flexibility and a sense for proportionality in order to reduce and prevent chaos and death.

  2. Secession presupposes the capacity of a territory to emerge as a functioning member of the international community. In this context, the four statehood criteria of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States are relevant: a permanent population; a defined territory; government; and the capacity to enter into relations with other States. The size of the population concerned and the economic viability of the territory are also relevant. A democratic form of government that respects human rights and the rule of law strengthens the entitlement. The recognition of a new State entity by other States is desirable but it has a declaratory, not a constitutive effect.

  3. When a multi-ethnic and/or multi-religious State entity is broken up, and the resulting new State entities are also multi-ethnic or multi-religious and continue to suffer from the old animosities and violence, the same principle of secession can be applied. If a piece of the whole can be separated from the whole, then a piece of the piece can also be separated under the same rules of law and logic. The main goal is to arrive at a world order in which States observe human rights and the rule of law internally and live in peaceful relations with other States.

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