Updated CPA Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide framework for Parliaments to meet contemporary challenges across the Commonwealth 

A newly updated CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures has been launched at an event held by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). More than a decade on from the launch of the original CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures by the CPA and its partners*, an updated Parliamentary Benchmarks has been developed to reflect the changed landscape in which democracies now operate. The updated CPA Benchmarks include measurements for Parliaments to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recommendations contained in the Commonwealth Charter. Effective parliaments are one of the principal institutions of any functioning democracy and they are central to the attainment of SDG 16 on the role of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Speaking at the launch event for the new CPA Benchmarks, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Hon. Emilia Lifaka, MP, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon, said: “The pioneering Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures is one of the CPA’s most important pieces of parliamentary strengthening work and the updated CPA Benchmarks is vital as we seek to further strengthen Parliaments and Legislatures in line with the aspirations of the Commonwealth Charter, the SDGs and the changing demands of our citizens.”

Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth and UN said: “The Commonwealth was founded to promote and instil democratic values, and these CPA Benchmarks offer clear standards for us all to adhere to, to help us to live up to the Commonwealth’s founding principles.  Maintaining, and indeed strengthening, our democratic standards was important twelve years ago when the first set of Benchmarks were launched. It is even more so now, when democracy and democratic values are under threat all over the world.”

Hon. Angelo Farrugia, MP, Speaker of the Parliament of Malta and CPA Small Branches Chairperson said: “It has been a privilege to have been so intimately involved in this latest milestone for the CPA Benchmarks programme, which now spans over 10 years. The updated CPA Benchmarks have great importance to the Commonwealth’s smallest Parliaments and, as the Speaker of the Maltese Parliament, I welcome this opportunity to further enhance the CPA Benchmarks and I would encourage other Presiding Officers to consider assessing their Parliaments against the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures.”

Thomas Hughes, speaking on behalf of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), said: “We know that Parliaments are a crucial institution that embody representative democracy and are essential in the protection of human rights. In this sense, the updated CPA Benchmarks are an excellent tool to assist legislatures in their efforts to achieve this ambitious goal.”

Guests at the CPA Benchmarks launch event also heard from Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP (United Kingdom) about the benchmarking experience of the UK Parliament and Hon. Juan Watterson, Speaker of the House of Keys at the Tynwald (Isle of Man) about how the Isle of Man Parliament had implemented parliamentary strengthening as a result of their self-assessment against the CPA Benchmarks.

Since the inception of the CPA Benchmarks, many Commonwealth Parliaments throughout the CPA membership of over 180 Legislatures have undertaken self-assessments using the Benchmarks or have incorporated the Benchmarks into their own parliamentary standards. The focus on measuring impact and the need to demonstrate the effectiveness of legislatures is critical at a time of increased scrutiny of Parliaments and of Parliamentarians and the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a key tool in assisting parliaments to demonstrate their performance, increase their self-awareness and prioritise areas for development. 

To access the updated CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures please click here

Notes to Editors:

*Background information: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) together with its partners conducted the exercise which drew on and convened its network to result in the publication of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures in 2006. These benchmarks were the outcome of an original Study Group hosted by the Legislature of Bermuda on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the World Bank Group with support from the United Nations Development Programme, the European Parliament and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. The Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures have been used extensively in parliamentary strengthening across the Commonwealth since 2006.

A joint study group convened by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) undertook a review of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures at Wilton Park in the United Kingdom from 18-20 June 2018. The study group included representatives from six of the nine CPA Regions – Asia, Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; India; Pacific – as well as leading experts in the field of parliamentary strengthening to review the CPA Benchmarks and continue with this seminal work in setting standards for modern Parliaments.

The updating of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures is part of a wider project, the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy, which is being led by Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) working with partners including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), the CPA UK Branch and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). The Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy was launched during the recent 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, UK. Over the next two years, the programme will work with Parliaments in 18 Commonwealth Member States across Sub-Saharan Africa and South-Eastern Asia.

Images of the CPA Benchmarks launch event are available at www.cpahq.org/cpahq/flickr.  

Updated 9 November 2018.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) partners with UK political parties, parliaments, electoral and financial audit institutions to help developing countries make their governments fairer, more effective and more accountable. Current WFD initiatives include: helping protect women from violence in the Middle East; engaging women, young people and people with disabilities in politics in sub-Saharan Africa; and building trust in democracy in the Western Balkans. For more information, please visit www.wfd.org

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. 
For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
CPA Headquarters Secretariat  
T: +44 (0)20 7799 1460
Email hq.sec@cpahq.org
For media enquiries, please contact communications@cpahq.org