Challenges at UN summit

Flags at the UNO building, Geneva (picture Yann)
By Richard Laming

Published in The Times, 16 September 2005

Sir You are correct to say that the United Nations should make a priority of standing up for individual freedom (leading article, September 13), but you do not ask what reforms might be necessary first.

The institutions of the UN at present represent governments rather than individuals. One should not be surprised, therefore, that the decisions taken by those institutions benefit governments rather than individuals.

The United Nations needs a forum which will represent the interests of citizens as distinct from the interests of their governments — namely, a parliamentary assembly. Such an assembly could have a purely consultative role so that the formal powers of national governments are not undermined but it might quickly give voice to the citizens’ conscience in international decision-making.

It makes no sense to argue that national institutions of government should be accountable to citizens but that international institutions should not.

Richard Laming
Federal Union

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