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Tonga's Legislative Assembly begins CPA Benchmarks self-assessment to identify priorities for reform

A delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Headquarters visited Nukuʻalofa from 13 to 17 November 2023 as part of a CPA Benchmarks self-assessment.

The CPA’s Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a framework for excellence in Commonwealth parliamentary and legislative practice and were updated to include the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG16 on strong and sustainable democratic institutions. In recent years, 24 Commonwealth Parliaments have undertaken further assessments against the updated CPA Benchmarks.

As part of their visit, the CPA delegation met with Lord Fakafanua, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Gloria Pole'o, the Clerk of the House, and Members of Parliament, as well as parliamentary staff, the Attorney-General, Auditor-General, Electoral Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner, Civil Society Forum and representatives of the media.

CPA delegation visit the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

L - R: Tom Duncan, Lord Fakafanua and Fraser Mcintosh at the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

CPA delegation visit the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

L - R: Tom Duncan, Lord Fakafanua, Fraser Mcintosh and Gloria Pole'o at the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

CPA delegation visit the Legislative Assembly of Tonga

The visit to Nukuʻalofa involved meetings with key parliamentary stakeholders and civil society representatives

Speaking about the self-assessment, the Lord Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua, said:

“The Legislative Assembly of Tonga is delighted to undertake the CPA Benchmarks self-assessment exercise and feels that doing so now is the right time for our Parliament, its Members and staff. Completing this important piece of work will enable us to celebrate the considerable progress that has been made since our 2010 constitutional reforms, while also identifying and addressing key areas for democratic improvement. As Lord Speaker, I look forward to working further alongside the CPA with a shared ambition of building a Parliament here in Tonga that is fit for purpose, resilient and inclusive for all.””

The CPA Benchmarks self-assessment was supported by Tom Duncan, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Australian Capital Territory, and Fraser McIntosh, Good Governance Project Manager from CPA Headquarters.

Following the visit, a report will be formulated with recommendations for reform to strengthen parliamentary institutions in Tonga. The outcomes report will play an important role in developing the effectiveness of the Parliament and contribute to its implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg, said:

“Effective Parliaments are the cornerstone of good governance and the CPA works to ensure that Legislatures can function to their maximum potential. Self-assessment against to the CPA Benchmarks ensures that Parliaments can vigorously scrutinise their practices and procedures to become better performing Legislatures. In addition, the CPA Benchmarks assessments have strengthened public outreach, engagement and confidence.”

This CPA Benchmarks self-assessment is being supported with project funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) aimed at furthering parliamentary democracy and good governance across the Commonwealth. The CPA supports Parliaments to fulfil the outcomes of the self-assessments 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.

-ENDS-

 

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.

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