Nairobi, Mar 10 : The Kenya chapter of the Democracy Without Borders (DWB) -- a non-governmental organisation based in Berlin and founded in 2003 that advocates the democratisation and strengthening of the United Nations and other international organisations -- has been launched in Nairobi.
DWB has chapters in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and now in Kenya. The DWB’s primary programme, the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA), has supporters in over 150 countries. According to a report of the KTN news channel, the recent launch event was supported by the Workable World Trust and attended by the DWB executive director Andreas Bummel as well.
The case for democratic representation of world citizens at the United Nations, a key goal of DWB, was endorsed in a speech by Florence Mutua, a Member of Parliament representing Busia county in the west of Kenya. Creating an inclusive UN: The parliamentarian of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) pointed out that the UN was doing important work but that the connection to the people on the ground is too weak.
“Citizens have no access to the UN but it is them who know best what is needed”, said Mutua who gained first-hand experience as a long-time UN employee before winning a seat in Kenyan National Assembly.
“A UN Parliamentary Assembly will bring the UN closer to the citizens”, she stated, referring to DWB’s main programme.
Mutua stressed that adequate representation of women and the youth at such a forum would have to be guaranteed. Prior to concluding, she vowed to table a report on the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) at an upcoming parliamentary session. She encouraged all those in attendance to offer their input.
The meeting elected Caleb Wanga, a community safety activist, as chairperson of DWB in Kenya. He stressed that in Kenya it was easy to be profiled and that promoting ethnical and tribal divisions was undermining democracy.
“We need to talk about boundaries that create divisions and conflict”, he said, including national divisions.” He emphasised that the current UN structure was exclusive in nature with no room for citizen’s participation. He cited this as one of the reasons why a UNPA was crucial.
Promoting global citizenship: The executive director of DWB, Andreas Bummel, pointed out that global citizenship is the core idea behind DWB’s efforts. “We all belong to one human family”, he said with reference to the Southern African concept of Ubuntu that was promoted by Nelson Mandela.
“Equality is the essence of global citizenship. Everybody needs to have an equal opportunity in shaping the political affairs that affect them and at the global level this means the establishment of a global parliament.” In addition to a UNPA Bummel highlighted the creation of a public UN petition instrument – a World Citizens’ Initiative – as DWB’s key goals. The South Africa-born activist noted the importance of having a global parliament now that the world has become interlinked via globalisation.
The executive director also mentioned that the UNPA would be a tool in helping the UN fulfills its promise of “Never again” with regard to mass atrocities. Lastly, Bummel highlighted that Africa needs to have a strong voice at the UN and expressed hopes that the continent may be pioneering the efforts for a more democratic and inclusive UN.
Broad support for DWB-Kenya: Samson Ochieng Jera, Deputy Chair of the ODM in Nairobi, welcomed and supported the establishment of DWB in Kenya. He emphasized the vision of free movement in the world. “The visa system creates global classes”, he said. Yasir Ahmedm a representative of CISA Somalia, also endorsed DWB and noted that countries such as Somalia would benefit from a more democratic UN.
George Kabougha, Executive Director of the Africa Peace Forum, noted that democracy was under siege and that it was the right time to take action to counter this trend globally. Martin Mavenjina of the Kenya Human Rights Commission said that DWB was “a very important initiative”, an assessment that a representative of the Usalama Reforms Forum agreed to.
Another civil society organisation that pledged its support was County Governance Watch. Meanwhile, Daniels Taabu, Executive Director of NARC Kenya, mentioned that implementing DWB’s goals would be helpful in reducing the lack of gender representation and lack of free movement that some global citizens face.
Inaugural board elected: In addition to Caleb Wanga, board members elected at the meeting were Florence Mutua, Martin Mavenjina, Zipporah Syokau, a journalist, and Daniels Taabu. In order to ensure diverse and broad representation in DWB-Kenya, it was decided to set up an additional advisory board. Initial members are Raphael Mahuhu (Ignite Africa), Rapudo Hawi (County Governance Watch) and Ruth Mukuba (NARC Kenya). More members of the advisory board will soon be selected. DWB will operate as a non-partisan organization based on cross-party support.UNI