CPA Parliamentary Academy
What we do

CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures

What are the CPA Benchmarks?

What are the CPA Benchmarks?

Learn more about the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures.
Origins and Evolution - CPA Benchmarks

Origins and Evolution - CPA Benchmarks

Learn more about the history of the CPA Benchmarks.
Use and Application - CPA Benchmarks

Use and Application - CPA Benchmarks

Learn more about how to use the CPA Benchmarks and why benchmarking is important.
Outcomes - CPA Benchmarks

Outcomes - CPA Benchmarks

Learn more about some of the positive outcomes from the CPA Benchmark Assessments around the Commonwealth.

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.

The original CPA Benchmarks published in 2006 comprised of 87 indicators and were drafted by CPA Parliamentarians representing different Commonwealth regions. The CPA Benchmarks were the outcome of a Study Group in late 2006 hosted by the Legislature of Bermuda on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the World Bank Institute (World Bank Group) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Parliament and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

Reinforcing the belief that effective Parliaments are one of the principal institutions of any functioning democracy, the Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures provide a minimum standard and a guide on how a Parliament should be constituted and how it should function. The CPA Benchmarks are therefore fundamental to the wider values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, adopted by Commonwealth Heads of Government on 14 December 2012, which expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies.

Emphasising the position of the parliamentary system as a dynamic one, all Legislatures can be sources of valuable innovations regardless of their size or age. Different experiences, approaches and attitudes foster variations in practices and policies which stimulate innovation everywhere. Reflecting new parliamentary developments and practices as well as important international developments such as the implementation of the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CPA Benchmarks were revised and updated in June 2018 by a second Study Group of CPA Parliamentarians representing different Commonwealth regions, which met at Wilton Park, West Sussex, United Kingdom. These updated CPA Benchmarks will continue to play an important part in developing the effectiveness of parliamentary institutions across the 180 Parliaments and Legislatures of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Key Documents

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. 

Since the updating of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures in 2018, 25 of the 180 Commonwealth Legislatures which make up the CPA have undertaken self-assessments. 

These include the following: Anguilla, Australian Capital Territory, Belize, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Malaysia, Malawi, Montserrat, Namibia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St Lucia, St Helena, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, Queensland and Western Cape. 

2023 Evaluation of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures Programme 2018-2022

Latest Issue:

2023 Evaluation of the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures Programme 2018-2022:

In 2023, the CPA commissioned a review of its recent Benchmarks programme of work. The report presents the findings of the review and includes recommendations for future work.

Latest News and Stories on the Benchmarks

Parliament of Kiribati undertakes CPA Democratic Benchmarks assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening
News

Parliament of Kiribati undertakes CPA Democratic Benchmarks assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening

A CPA delegation from CPA Australia Region visited Kiribati from 19 to 22 February 2024 to support the Parliament's self-assessment against the CPA Benchmarks.

Parliament of Maldives undertakes CPA Benchmarks self-assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening and reform
News

Parliament of Maldives undertakes CPA Benchmarks self-assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening and reform

A CPA delegation visited the Parliament from 12 to 16 February 2024 to support the self-assessment process.

Parliament of Namibia undertakes CPA Benchmarks assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening and reform
News

Parliament of Namibia undertakes CPA Benchmarks assessment to focus on parliamentary strengthening and reform

A delegation from the CPA Headquarters visited Namibia from 28 to 30 November to support the Parliament's self-assessment against the CPA Benchmarks.

Botswana undertakes first ever joint CPA Benchmarks and Gender Sensitive Parliament (GSP) self-assessment
News

Botswana undertakes first ever joint CPA Benchmarks and Gender Sensitive Parliament (GSP) self-assessment

A delegation from the CPA Headquarters visited Gaborone from 20 to 24 November to support the first ever joint self-assessment undertaken by a Parliament.

Tonga's Legislative Assembly begins CPA Benchmarks self-assessment
News

Tonga's Legislative Assembly begins CPA Benchmarks self-assessment

The self-assessment process will identify recommendations for reform to strengthen parliamentary institutions in Tonga.

CPA and Parliament of Malawi sign Memorandum of Understanding
News

CPA and Parliament of Malawi sign Memorandum of Understanding

The new collaboration will give the CPA the opportunity to provide learning and development for upskilling the institution and its Members in several areas, including budgetary scrutiny and oversight, public engagement, and post-legislative scrutiny.

Commonwealth Parliamentarians at 147th IPU Assembly in Angola
News

Commonwealth Parliamentarians at 147th IPU Assembly in Angola

Commonwealth Parliamentarians highlight strong parliamentary institutions for peace and stability at 147th IPU Assembly in Angola

CPA Benchmarks Evaluation Report published
News

CPA Benchmarks Evaluation Report published

New evaluation of the CPA Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures ensures they remain relevant for Commonwealth Parliaments

New FCDO/CPA project aims to strengthen parliamentary democracy across the Commonwealth
News

New FCDO/CPA project aims to strengthen parliamentary democracy 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.

CPA Benchmarks report provides the Malawi Parliament with an opportunity for parliamentary reform
News

CPA Benchmarks report provides the Malawi Parliament with an opportunity for parliamentary reform

Newly published report from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association provides recommendations to strengthen the governance, independence and administration of the Parliament of Malawi.