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International Network for a UN Second Assembly

to consider the proposal for a

The International Network, consisting of the organizations and institutions listed in Annex 1 of this document, appeals to the General Assembly to mandate a study on the proposal for a UN Second Assembly, to be carried out by a UN Expert Group or an Independent International Commission.

Network Convenors

AUSTRALIA: Keith Suter
BELGIUM: Paul Ghils
CANADA: Fergus Watt
GERMANY, F.R: Klaus Schlichtmann
GHANA: Kofi Atakora
INDIA: Radhakrishna
IRELAND: Sean English
SCANDINAVIA: Gunnar Ekegard
UGANDA: Buuka Bijumiro-jjumiro
UK: John Carey, Jeffrey Segall
USA: Alanna Hartzok, Harry Lerner

Addresses for correspondence:

UK: 308 Cricklewood Lane, London NW2 2PX
USA: 301 East 45th Street, Suite 20B, New York, NY 10017.

1987-8 edition


The International Network for a UN Second Assembly, consisting of the non-governmental organizations and institutions listed in Annex 1 of this Appeal,

Recognizes that human beings exist not only as citizens of sovereign nation-states and as members of other separate groupings, but also as individuals who are globally united by common human values and by membership of the species that dominates, and hence has a responsibility for, Planet Earth;

Accepts that the governmental missions composing the General Assembly represent the peoples of the world primarily as citizens of the member-states, and that consequently they uphold the diverse and sometimes conflicting heritage, material needs and wants, and security interests of the people of their respective states;

Considers that the General Assembly therefore addresses international problems principally from national perspectives, and so is unable adequately to represent all aspects of human unity;

Concludes that there is a need for a supplementary, popular, world assembly to represent the unity of humankind, to enhance the status of universally recognized human values, to address global problems primarily from a global perspective, and to focus on the common interests of everyone in the survival and destiny of our species, in the protection of our planet, and in the creation of a peaceful and just world;

Proposes that such an assembly should be structurally linked to the UN General Assembly and should be composed of non-governmental representatives from the world's public;

Names such an assembly provisionally as the `United Nations Second Assembly', to signify that it would be analogous to a second house of a bicameral parliament; Believes that the Second Assembly would strengthen the efforts of the United Nations to fulfill its fundamental objectives;

Therefore appeals to the General Assembly to mandate a detailed study of this Proposal, to be carried out either by a UN Group of Experts or by an Independent International Commission.


1. DEFINITION AND STATUS. The Second Assembly would be an assembly of non-governmental representatives. It would have the status of a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly under Article 22 of the UN Charter. It would be open to participation by all UN member-states, and would exercise its functions pursuant to a Constitution approved by the General Assembly.


(A) The Second Assembly would be a deliberative organ concerned from a global standpoint with problems and aspirations common to all che peoples of the world: disarmament measures, development, the environment, human rights (including social and economic rights), the prevention of war and other armed conflicts, and the prevention of the threat of nuclear war. It would support, supplement and stimulate (not replace) the activities of the world's non-governmental movements in these fields.

(B) The Second Assembly would assist the General Assembly by expressing to it a wide range of non-governmental views on these subjects.

(C) The Second Assembly would also seek to foster international understanding at non-governmental levels, and hence would not take sides in international disputes or in ideological differences between UN member-states.


(A) The Second Assembly would be composed of non-governmental representatives from participating UN member-states. They should preferably come from many different walks of life.

(B) All candidates for membership of a Second Assembly should be required to undertake in n prescribed form that in their UN responsibilities they would be guided only by their humankind identity, and therefore by global and regional, not national, considerations.

(C) Within UN guidelines which govern the formation of subsidiary organs, and which would require to be specifically approved by the General Assembly, each member-state would have the right to decide on its own method of choosing the representative from its country. Some possible methods are listed in Annex 3.

(D) The tenure of the representativesí membership of the Second Assembly could be limited to; say, four years. This could increase the opportunities for broad social, age/sex, and geographical representation from the participating member-states.

(E) Each member-state's quota of seats could be the square root of the number of millions of its population. (For example, in country with n population of 100 million would have 10 seats, and one with a population of 1 million would have 1 seat; countries with less than 1 million would also have 1 seat.) This method of representation would give a range of 1 to 31 seats, and a total Assembly of about 550 seats if all member-states were to participate. Other methods of representation in relation to size of population to give a smaller Assembly could be considered. Irrespective of the method of allocation of national numbers of seats, the Second Assembly's members should be grouped regionally, not nationally, and the regional groupings should be geographical, not geopolitical, eg: Africa, Americas, Central Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Western Pacific.

4. ORGANIZATION. The World Federation of United Nations Associations and the national UNAs could be asked to consider undertaking liaison functions between governments, non-governmental movements, and the representatives in the Second Assembly. Liaison should also be established between the Second Assembly and the non-governmental organizations and institutions in consultative status with ECOSOC and UN Agencies.

5. FUNDING (A) Each participating member-state would decide on its own method of funding the work and expenses of the representatives from its country. (B) Consideration should be given to establishing an international fund to help meet the expenses of representatives from low-income countries. (C) All possible methods of raising contributions from non-governmental sources for funding the sessions should be considered. (D) Contributions from member-states towards the funding of the sessions of the Second Assembly should be voluntary.

6. MEETINGS. There could be two regular sessions annually, one in the General Assembly Hall in New York and one in the Palais des Nations in Geneva, unless otherwise decided by the General Assembly. There could also be peripatetic sessions (perhaps one every two years) in capital cities. In addition to plenary meetings the sessions could include meetings of regional commissions, working groups, and occupational and other special interest groups.

7. INPUT. The agenda of the Second Assembly would be determined pursuant to guidelines in its Constitution. These should allow agenda items to be proposed by the representatives on behalf of non-governmental organizations and institutions, other interested groups, and concerned individuals. The guidelines should also provide for the right of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and UN Agencies to propose agenda items.

8. DELIBERATIONS. The Second Assembly would be obliged to give due consideration to al1 agenda items. It could establish expert groups to study specific problems from a global or regional perspective. Substantive conclusions of plenary sessions and the texts of final documents would be decided by consensus whenever possible, or failing this by other democratic means.

(A) The output of the Second Assembly would aim at furthering the purposes and principles of the United Nations. It would be addressed in the first instance to the General Assembly. Recommendations agreed only by a majority should have minority views appended. Responses received from the General Assembly should be fully discussed by the Second Assembly.

(B) The representatives would be expected to report to their sources of input on the basis of the deliberations, substantive conclusions and final documents of the Second Assembly, and of responses received from the General Assembly.

(C) The Second Assembly should have the right to publicize its output after considering any responses it might receive from the General Assembly.

(D) The Second Assembly should also seek to signal to the public, via the media and the worlds of religion, culture, sport and entertainment, that it is legitimate, and indeed a responsibility, for everyone to take on a global loyalty, in addition to (not instead of) their existing national, political and ideological loyalties.

Annex 1


(October 1989)


Action Health 2000 (International Voluntary Health Association)
Anuvrat Global Organization (Anuvibha)
Association for World Education
Campaign for UN Reform
Christians Against Racism and Fascism
Communications Coordination Committee for the United Nations
'Disarmament Campaigns'
Environmental Liaison Centre
European Liaison and Coordination Office of UN University for Peace
Global Education Associates
International Association of University∑ Days for Peace
International Council of Psychologists
International Evangelical Church
International Federation of Social Workers
International Institute of Concern for Public Health
International Peace School on Crete
International Public Policy Institute
Internationale Weltfrieden [World Peace] Partei (IWP)
Pensioners for Peace International
The International People's College
The Networking Institute
The One World Movement of the Ecumenical Community
The Open International University for Complementary Medicines
The Organization Development Institute and The International Registry of Organization Development Professionals
Transnational Perspectives
Unitarian Universalist UN Office
United European-African Society
United Nations and Related Agencies Staff Movement for Disarmament and Peace (Geneva and New York Branches)
Unity-and-Diversity World Organization
Universala Esperanto-Asocio
Universidad para la Paz (University for Peace)
World Alliance of NGOs for Disarmament, Development and Security (VANGUARDS)
World Citizen Diplomats
World Citizens Assembly
`World Democracy News'
World Referendum Association


Alpha-peace-building from grassroots (UK)
American Referendum Association, Inc (USA)
Americans Against Nuclear War (USA)
Americans for Democratic Action (USA)
Anglican Pacifist Fellowship (UK)
Association of World Federalists (Australia)
Association of World Federalists (UK)
Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (UK)
Bob Geldof's BAND AID (UK)
British Christian Peace Conference (UK)
California Peace Academy (USA)
Center for Advancement of Human Cooperation (USA)
Centre for Multicultural Education, University of London Institute of Education (UK)
Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (UK)
Co-operative Women's Guild (UK)
Datum International (UK)
Department of Peace Studies, Irish School of Ecumenics (Ireland)
Dutch Association for a Ministry for Peace in the Netherlands (NWMN)
Dutch Medical Association for Peace Research (Netherlands)
Fellowship of Reconciliation - UK
Fellowship Party (UK)
Foundation for Alternatives (UK)
Friends of the Earth - UK
Fundacio per la Pau (Spain)
Gandhi Peace Foundation (India)
Green Deserts Ltd (UK)
Humanitas - UK
Institute of Labour Management and Research (India)
International Registry of World Citizens- USA
Labour Federalist Group (UK)
Light on the Bay (USA)
London Centre for International Peacebuilding (UK)
Medical Association for Prevention of War (UK)
Medical Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (UK)
Minority Rights Group (UK)
Movimento Brasileiro Pelo Desarmamento e a Paz (Brazil)
National and Local Government Officers Association [NALGO] (UK)
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (USA)
Nuclear Weapons Freeze (UK)
Paz y Cooperacion (Spain)
Peace Chariot (UK)
`Peace News' (UK)
Peace Research Institute, Dundas (Canada)
People's Assembly for the UN (USA)
People's Assembly Network of San Francisco (USA)
Philosophers and Historians for Peace (UK)
Project for Peace (UK)
Promoting Enduring Peace (USA)
Safe Earth Network (Australia)
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
Southern Region Trade Union Information Unit (UK)
Sserulanda Nsulo Y'Obulamu Spiritual Foundation (Uganda)
Swedish World Federalists (Sweden)
Teachers for Peace (UK)
Teilhard Centre (UK)
The InterFace Association (UK)
Ties International Peace Relations and Educational Trust (UK)
United Nations Association of Australia
United Nations Reform [part of WFAM] (USA)
US Federation of Scientists and Scholars
Voluntary Health Association of India
World Association of World Federalists of West Germany
World Conference of Religions for Peace (UK and Ireland Group)
World Disarmament Campaign-UK
World Federalists of Canada
World Federalists of USA


Croydon Peace Council (UK)
Frome & Distria Peace Forum (UK)
Gadfly (UK)
United Nations Association - UK branches: Bangor; Cheltenham; Falmouth; Glasgow; Hampstead Garden Suburb & Golders Green; Sutton Coldfield

Annex 2


In May 1985 the Network sought a range of opinions on a draft of the Proposal, Among the responses were requests from several experts for the Network to indicate the type of practical work it would expect the Second Assembly to undertake. Some suggestions are therefore offered in this Annex, but they should be read in the context that the Second Assembly would function within the framework of a Constitution approved by the General Assembly, and that its agenda could be expected to depend mainly on input from its constituencies,


(1) International peace. Regional commissions of the Second Assembly could identify international antagonisms that might become armed conflicts. The Second Assembly, subject to the approval of the governments concerned and the General Assembly, could then seek at non-governmental levels to foster (a) mutual understanding (e.g., in cultural and educational fields) and (b) public support for negotiations and/or mediation. (The Second Assembly would only address the subject of any existing armed conflict if required to do so by the General Assembly.)

(2) Communal peace. Similarly, working groups of the Second Assembly, with the approval of the governments concerned, could seek to promote at non-governmental levels understanding and co-operation between antagonistic communities, and to encourage justified social and political changes by non-violent and legal means.

(3) National sovereignry. Conflicting claims between self-determination and geopolitical factors as causes of disputes about national sovereignty could be studied from historical, cultural and economic perspectives, with a view to establishing general guidelines for compromise solutions of such disputes.

(4) Compliance with international law could be monitored in terms of the numbers of signatories to and infringements of international conventions (without the naming of individual countries).

(5) Reductions in armed power ('De-armament'). The Second Assembly, in cooperation with specialist peace institutes, could use objective criteria (eg, population size, gross national product, geographical factors) to propose a range of acceptable levels of different forms of armed power for defensive purposes. The subject would be studied objectively and statistically, and would not refer individual countries.

(6) Global enterprises. The Second Assembly could seek, together with appropriate international institutions, to sponsor investments and initiatives in global enterprises by non-governmental corporations, institutions and organizations, and by individuals, with the objectives of fostering world economic and cultural cooperation, aiding world development, and protecting the environment.

(7) The Second Assembly might initiate a campaign to help to popularize UN objectives, such as:

  • To save humankind `from the scourge of war', and especially from `the threat of nuclear catastrophe'
  • To reduce military budgets
  • To ensure food for all
  • To provide health care for all
  • To support international co-operation for economic growth, appropriate development, and protection of the environment.

Annex 3


A UN Second Assembly should be representative of everyone's humankind identity, but the selection of the representatives would necessarily have to be made on a national basis. To meet both these requirements, each UN member-state should be allocated a quota of scan which would be related to the size of its population.

Selection of representatives

Within guidelines to be established by the UN, each participating member-state should be free to decide on an appropriate method for choosing the representatives from in country, as stated in Suggested Principle 3 (C). Here is a range of some possible methods:

(1) Direct election by the voting population.

(2) Direct election by voters who register specifically for this purpose.

(3) Voting by an electoral college convened to represent non-governmental organizations and institutions concerned with peace, disarmament, development human and social rights (including the rights of women and of children), the environment, world health, and international culture; broad sections of the population through, for example, national organizations of trade unions, employer; and academic institutions; and interested individuals*, possibly via membership o the national United Nations Association.

(4) Selection by a similarly representative non-governmental commission. (* An expert suggested that former parliamentarians, diplomats and civil servants and also individuals with experience in international organizations, corporation and charities, should be encouraged to become involved in the work of the Second Assembly, including as representatives.)

Method of allocation of quotas of seats

The square-root method of representation in a world assembly, which is outlined in Suggested Principle 3 (E), was originally devised in 1946 by the late Professor Lionel Penrose (who was for many years the Chairman of the Medical Association for Prevention of War). On population figures for 1980 this method would produce an assembly of 553 seats, which would divide regionally as:

Africa                 96
Americas               99
Eastern Mediterranean  60
Europe                132
Central Asia          105
Western Pacific        61

The square-root method is more than a pragmatic compromise between the extreme methods of world representation unrelated to population size and allocation of national quotas in direct proportion to population size; Penrose showed that in terms of statistical theory the square-root method gives to each voter in the world an equal influence on decision-making in a world assembly. The application of this method to the Second Assembly could therefore be seen, at least symbolically, as the provision by the UN of a world democratic forum

However, other possible methods of allocation of seats, including methods to give a smaller Assembly, should be considered.

Penrose Method o f Representation In a World Assembly

The Penrose method of voting power or number of seats in a world assembly is based on the four following propositions. As an example of the method, their application to the representation of national populations of 100 and 49 millions in an assembly of 560 seats is shown in the accompanying table (Table 1).

(1) A polarization of views in the mass population of any country can be considered statistically random, so that all that needs to be represented numerically is the majority, or edge, of one view over the other - since the rest neutralize each other. Penrose showed that the most probable size of the edge was approximately the square root of the population, and that each individual's influence statistically on the national decision-making was the reciprocal of this square root.

(2) Equitable representation in a world assembly can be obtained by representing numerically this statistical edge from each country, that is by allocating to each country a number of votes or seats proportional to the square root of its national population. In practice the easiest proportion to use is 10-6.

(3) Voting in the assembly would be deliberate, not statistically random, so that the influence of each country's representatives in the assembly would be its fraction of the assembly's total of voting power or seats.

(4) The product of the individual's national decision-making influence (proposition 1) and the influence statistically of his/her country's representatives on the assembly's decision-making (proposition 3) is the influence the individual has statistically on the assembly's decision-making. This is the reciprocal of the assembly's total voting power or number of seats x 106, and so is the same for all sizes of population


Penrose L5. The elementary statistics of majority voting. J Royal Statistical Soc 1946:109:53-7.
Penrose L5. On the Objective Study of Crowd Behaviour. London: H.K Lewis, 1952: Chapter 7 and Appendix.

(Professor Lionel Sharples Penrose MD FRCP FRS [1898-1972] was a highly distinguished medical genticist, and for ten years was the Chairman of the Medical Association for Prevention of War.)

Last modified: 26 July 1996