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.
Download the CPA Recommended Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures
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. Find out more by clicking here.
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. The 2018 Study Group was organised by the CPA together with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) under the CP4D Project*. These updated 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.
Since 2018, 22 Legislatures spanning the Commonwealth have undertaken self- assessments. Recommendations emanating from the self-assessments have resulted in significant parliamentary reform, ranging from instituting new committees to improved financial accountability and oversight procedures. Recent CPA Benchmarks assessments have been undertaken in the following CPA Branches: South Africa, Malaysia, Belize, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, St Lucia, Pakistan, Grenada, The Gambia, Ghana and Australia Capital Territory and the Isle of Man.
The CPA Headquarters have also delivered further CPA Benchmarks assessments funded direct through the CPA Headquarters Secretariat: Anguilla, Montserrat, Sierra Leone, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. To read the outcomes report from Anguilla, please click here.
*Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D)
- The CPA was a partner in the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (#CP4D) programme aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and promoting good governance across Commonwealth countries.
- Launched during the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, UK, the CP4D programme has helped to raise standards and build political commitment to democratic values through advancing inclusive and accountable democracy in the Commonwealth.
- Funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (now FCDO), the Project was led by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and included the CPA, Commonwealth Local Government Forum and CPA UK.
New FCDO/CPA project aims to strengthen parliamentary democracy and good governance across the Commonwealth
- In 2023/2024, 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, through FCDO project funding, will be able to support Commonwealth Parliaments to fulfil CPA Benchmarks assessments with the outcomes/recommendations being actioned 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. Find out more by clicking here.