67th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

New FCDO/CPA project aims to strengthen parliamentary democracy and good governance across the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, together with project funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is embarking on a new project to further parliamentary democracy and good governance across the Commonwealth.

The CPA’s Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a framework for excellence in Commonwealth parliamentary and legislative practice. The CPA Benchmarks, which were adopted by the CPA’s 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures, provide a minimum standard and a guide on how a Parliament should be constituted and how it should function. They play an important role in developing the effectiveness of parliamentary institutions.

By supporting Parliaments to undertake CPA Benchmark assessments to produce outcomes reports and accompanying recommendations, these institutions and their leadership will be able to identify clear roadmaps for effective and targeted reforms.

The CPA, through FCDO project funding, will be able to support these Parliaments to fulfil these recommendations through CPA Technical Assistance Programmes, which could involve updating the rules of procedures, training for Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, or developing corporate policies. These project outputs will strengthen parliamentary institutions for improved good governance.

Jo Lomas, the UK Commonwealth Envoy said:

“We value our ongoing collaboration with the CPA and are pleased to support the CPA’s Benchmarks project. This project champions Commonwealth values and in particular [its] proud history of acting to strengthen good governance. This timely project will give Commonwealth Parliaments additional tools to tackle the complex challenges that they face and thereby enhance good governance and democracy across the Commonwealth.”

Stephen Twigg, CPA Secretary-General said:

“Effective Parliaments are the cornerstone of good governance, and this project will ensure that Legislatures can function to their maximum potential. The CPA/FCDO Benchmarks Project will seek to ensure that Parliaments can vigorously scrutinise and hold the Executive accountable, implement high-quality legislation and provide adequate services and resources needed to enable Parliamentarians to represent their communities.”

Through the UK Government’s Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D) Project in 2018, the CPA developed an updated CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures, which were originally launched in 2006. These updated CPA Benchmarks adopted and embedded the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG16 on strong and sustainable democratic institutions.

The CPA Benchmarks were endorsed by 54 Commonwealth Member Countries at the time and the CPA’s membership of almost 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures. In recent years, 21 Commonwealth Parliaments have undertaken further assessments against the updated CPA Benchmarks.

Outcomes from recent CPA Benchmarks assessments have included the National Assembly of Kenya translating their Standing Orders into Kiswahili and the publishing of an e-newsletter to increase public outreach.

In Belize, following a CPA Benchmarks assessment, the House of Representatives developed a new Code of Conduct, updated their Standing Orders and established a Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, demonstrating the valuable use of the CPA Benchmarks across the Commonwealth.

Above: Members of the Anguilla House of Assembly consult with the the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory on the development of a new Code of Conduct and Register of Interests for Parliamentarians as part of a CPA Technical Assistance Programme following an assessment against the CPA’s Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures.

To find out more about this project please email hq.sec@cpahq.org. The CPA's Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures are available to download on the CPA website.

Related Resources

CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures (2018)

Building on the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles on the separation of powers, the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a framework for excellence in Commonwealth parliamentary and legislative practice.

Field Guide: CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures (2018)

The Field Guide is a useful resource to support legislatures to conduct their own internal self-assessment against the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures. 


The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is a UK Government department, supported by 11 agencies and public bodies. The FCDO pursues national interests and project the UK as a force for good in the world. It promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends its values, aims to reduce poverty and tackle global challenges with its international partners. The FCDO Commonwealth Unit works in support of the Commonwealth to implement the principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter and works with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the many accredited Commonwealth organisations (including the CPA). Click here for more information.
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 media enquiries, please contact communications@cpahq.org.