Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) - Organisation

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has been the voice of parliamentary democracy across the Commonwealth for more than nine decades. Since the turn of the new millennium, however, it has also been speaking out for the right of Parliaments and Parliamentarians to play a more active role in the development of their countries. No longer satisfied with simply approving and scrutinizing government development plans, the Association’s 185 Parliaments and Legislatures and their 17,000 Members now want to play an active role in formulating those plans.

This is essential for the continued relevance of Parliament and for the advancement of democracy and of the people of the Commonwealth. This is possible with the support of the CPA. The CPA is the forum which enables Commonwealth Parliamentarians to reach beyond their own Houses to contribute in a global setting to the development of the best parliamentary practices and the most effective policies. They do this by talking to each other – exchanging information, sharing experiences and debating policies. The CPA is recognized by Commonwealth Heads of Government and intergovernmental agencies as an organization which actually does strengthen good parliamentary governance and contribute tangibly to the development of all Commonwealth people.

Commonwealth MPs, coming together in the CPA, constitute an invaluable resource. They apply to the resolution of issues the expertise of every profession in society, the experiences of countries of all sizes and stages of development and the diverse practices of national, state, provincial and territorial Parliaments and Legislatures, no two of which work exactly alike. They represent both genders, all races and religions, many of the world’s culturesand virtually every political, economic and social philosophy.

Unusual in international gatherings, they also apply the different perspectives of government and opposition and the different priorities of national and sub-national governments.

Their contribution does not stop there. By meeting in a Commonwealth setting, Parliamentarians appreciate the value of the wider Commonwealth of Nations. They take back to their own Parliaments and Legislatures – and to their governments – a greater realization of the advantages of using the Commonwealth as a force for good in the world. Also unusual in the international arena, the Commonwealth is much more than just a collection of governments: it is an alliance of people who reinforce and extend the work of governments by bringing the Commonwealth connection to the grass roots of politics and of every aspect of society.

The Commonwealth parliamentary community has one other defining characteristic, again one not often found in international activities. In the CPA, the views of all member countries and of all MPs are heard equally. The CPA recognizes that effective policies and practices can come from the small, the inexperienced and the underdeveloped as well as from the large, the sophisticated and the rich.

The CPA is not simply a diverse community of Parliamentarians and of Parliaments and Legislatures; it is also one that recognizes the value of diversity. By enabling the Commonwealth’s political leaders to share their varied experiences, the Association encourages them to adapt policies, systems and practices to suit their own particular circumstances, thus creating new approaches which in turn can influence others and contribute to the unending task of finding new and better ways to raise standards of governance and, with them, standards of living for all Commonwealth people.

For further information about the CPA please contact the CPA Secretariat