The Parliamentarian
2020: Issue Two: Commonwealth Parliaments respond to COVID-19 global pandemic

The Parliamentarian is the quarterly Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and features articles and news written by Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff across the Commonwealth about international issues.
The first issue of The Parliamentarian in 2020 celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first issue of the Journal of Commonwealth Parliament, first published in January 1920. In the time since the last issue was published the planet has become engulfed by the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Commonwealth Parliaments have responded to one of the greatest global challenges in recent history.

Commonwealth Parliaments have responded to the international situation regarding Coronavirus in many different ways and in this issue of The Parliamentarian, we have published a special report on some of the ways that CPA Branches’ are responding to the pandemic. This special report on COVID-19 includes articles on Parliaments’ responses in Jersey, the Isle of Man, New Zealand, Kenya and the UK.

In this issue of The Parliamentarian, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Executive Committee, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP (Cameroon) in her View article writes about COVID-19 and its impacts on the CPA. The CPA issued a statement to all of its 180 CPA Branches in Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures to provide reassurance to its membership and to ensure the support to its membership is consistent and robust during this time of uncertainty. 

The CPA Small Branches Chairperson, Hon. Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands writes about how the latest global pandemic is affecting the Cook Islands, one of the smallest jurisdictions in the Commonwealth and what the CPA Small Branches network can do in her View article for this publication.

The Acting CPA Secretary-General, Mr Jarvis Matiya in his View article in this issue outlines how the CPA will continue to provide maximum support to its membership and partners by using alternative means to deliver on its mandate of developing, promoting and supporting Commonwealth Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The Acting CPA Secretary-General also reports on how the CPA has responded with the publication of the ‘CPA Toolkit for Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic’, a series of international webinars and a number of measures to support Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

This issue features an article by former New Zealand Parliamentarian and now Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, Darren Hughes, who asks ‘New pandemic, new politics? Inside the UK’s virtual Parliament’. The Electoral Reform Society has also shared with readers an interview with UK Parliamentarian, Wera Hobhouse, MP on ‘Life for a backbencher in the UK’s virtual Parliament’.

UK Parliamentarian and former Secretary-General of NATO, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen writes about ‘COVID-19, the Commonwealth and the urgency of action on road traffic injury’ as he examines one of the greatest threats to human life in the Commonwealth.

One of the CPA’s most important pieces of work in recent years has been the Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures, which are helping to provide a framework for excellence in Commonwealth parliamentary and legislative practice by reinforcing the belief that effective Parliaments are one of the principal institutions of any functioning democracy. A number of Commonwealth Parliaments have been undertaking self-assessments against the CPA Benchmarks, both as part of the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D) and with the CPA Headquarters Secretariat. In this issue of The Parliamentarian, we feature reports from the CP4D project as well as the many self-assessments taking place in CPA Branches. In addition, Tom Duncan, Clerk of the Australian Capital Territory Legislature and a consultant on the revised CPA Benchmarks in 2018, writes about the ACT experience and their regular reassessments against the CPA Benchmarks.

Over half of the world’s victims of modern slavery live in the Commonwealth. The United Kingdom’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, looks at the scale of the issue of modern slavery and the role of the Commonwealth.

UK Parliamentarian, Alex Norris, MP, writes about ridding our world of modern slavery by 2030, the work of the CPA UK Branch’s Modern Slavery Project and the launch of an e-Handbook for Commonwealth Parliamentarians to raise awareness of modern slavery, human trafficking and forced labour.

The CPA is working with McGill University in Canada on a global partnership project to strengthen parliamentary oversight in Small States and Professor Rick Stapenhurst from the university writes about the progress of the project so far.

In the first of a three-part series for The Parliamentarian, Parliamentary Consultant at the Lok Sabha Secretariat at the Parliament of India, Ravindra Garimella, looks at the origins and history of some of the parliamentary expressions and practices used in many Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures.

Youth activist from Tonga, Mele Fonua, writes in this issue about how her participation in and experiences at the 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament in India last year, shaped her role as Chairperson of the Whole House Committee at the recent Tonga Youth Parliament 2020.

This issue of The Parliamentarian reports on Commonwealth Day 2020 which took place on Monday 9 March. The CPA Headquarters Secretariat launched a CPA Commonwealth Day Youth Engagement Pack, for the benefit of all CPA Branches in order to inspire Parliaments to engage their young people. CPA Branches and Regions across the network of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association also marked Commonwealth Day 2020 in many different ways and this issue reports on events in Canada, Cayman Islands, Ghana, Fiji, Malawi, Kiribati, Jamaica, New Zealand, Northern Territory, Pakistan, Gibraltar, St Helena, Scotland and the UK. 

This issue features an article by the Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Helen Haywood, who looks back over 25 years working with the CPA and the wider international parliamentary community.

International Women’s Day 2020 took place on 8 March and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) used the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in Parliaments across the Commonwealth and to highlight the gender inequality faced by women across the world. In this issue of The Parliamentarian, the CWP International Vice-Chairperson and the CWP Africa Region Chairperson, Hon. Dr Zainab Gimba, MP (Nigeria), writes about the different strategies and resolutions required in the Africa Region to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

The Parliamentary Report and Third Reading section in this issue includes parliamentary and legislative news from Canada Federal; British Columbia; Trinidad and Tobago; India; New Zealand; Sri Lanka; United Kingdom; and Australia Federal. 

We look forward to hearing your feedback and comments on this issue of The Parliamentarian, on the issues affecting Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth and to receiving your future contributions to this publication.

Print and digital copies of The Parliamentarian are available to Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff - please contact your CPA Branch Secretary for details.

The latest issue of The Parliamentarian has just been published and is available to Members of Parliament through CPA Branch Secretaries or to individuals or organisations by subscription. Email if you have not received your copy or wish to purchase a copy/subscription.

Archived issues are available via this website - please click here for 
previous issues.

Updated 01/06/2020/CPAHQ