First established as an advisory group, the Committee on United Nations Affairs was formed in 2007 in an effort to connect parliaments with UN activities and goals. This had been preceded by the UN’s recognition of the importance of cooperation with national parliaments in its Millennium Declaration of 2000, followed by the IPU becoming a permanent observer to the UN in 2002.
A unique platform for MPs to engage with senior UN officials, the Committee helps to close the "democracy gap" between citizens’ voices and global decision-making. Its meetings ensure the voice of “we the people” is communicated to UN policy-makers.
The Committee also aims to find ways for parliaments—who play a vital part in implementing global commitments—to work better with the UN globally and nationally. MPs share ideas on mechanisms to monitor whether individual countries are honouring their international pledges.
The Committee is assisted by an 18-member bureau that monitors and reports on the involvement of parliaments in UN activities in areas concerning sustainable development, peacebuilding, UN budgets and reform, and human rights.
The bureau conducts investigations, including field missions, to assess aid effectiveness and cooperation between parliaments and the UN in peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.
In 2013, the Committee formally became our fourth permanent committee. It underlined and acknowledged the importance of connecting the work of the world’s governments with that of the world’s legislators. The Committee’s operations are part of our overall work and strategic partnerships with the UN.
The Committee meets at our twice-yearly Assemblies and is open to all our Members.
New modalities and working methods for the Committee were adopted in March 2023.
The work of each Committee is guided by an 18-member Bureau with three representatives per geopolitical group –among the three, there must be at least one man and one woman. The Bureau helps to set the agenda for each session and proposes a work programme for the Committee.
At present, 40% of the elected Bureau members are women.