66th CPC - Event Hub
Our Thematic Approach

The CPA and Human Rights


The CPA and Human Rights

A commitment to human rights is a core principle of the Commonwealth. Its importance is made clear in the Commonwealth Charter and other Declarations, such as the 1991 Harare Declaration and the 1971 Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles, which were agreed by Commonwealth member states. In addition, there are numerous international and regional human rights principles, commitments and protocols that the majority of CPA Branches have pledged their commitment to, for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

In recent years, there have been important initiatives seeking to strengthen the work of parliamentarians in the promotion and protection of human rights both within the Commonwealth and in the wider international community. The Preamble to the CPA Constitution highlights our shared commitment to working together “irrespective of gender, race, religion or culture” and to have “respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms”.

It is important that the CPA’s work on human rights is taken forward with support from all nine Regions and that we take the opportunity to learn from examples of best practice including the work of Parliamentary Committees and cross-party groups on human rights in many Commonwealth jurisdictions. We can also learn from the work of the three CPA networks –Small Branches, the CWP and the CPwD. Human rights are, of course, universal but a focus on human rights is especially important for citizens and communities that are vulnerable or marginalised due to discrimination.

Find out more about the CPA's human rights initiatives below.

The CPA Working Group on Human Rights

Established 2021

Introducing: The CPA Working Group on Human Rights

The CPA Working Group on Human Rights was formally established by the CPA International Executive Committee in March 2021 at its Mid-Year Meeting. 

The purpose of the CPA Working Group is:

to review the CPA’s work on human rights and explore how best to strengthen the implementation of our shared commitments.

The group consists of one representative from each of the nine CPA Regions.

The current Chairperson is: Hon. Akierra Missick (Turks and Caicos Islands).

About the CPA Working Group on Human Rights

Regional Declarations

2014 - 2016

Between 2014 and 2016, the CPA and the Commonwealth Secretariat held a series of seminars on “The Role of Parliamentarians in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights” which resulted in three regional declarations:

The implementation of these three Declarations provides a powerful foundation upon which we can build upon at a Branch level, a Regional level and Globally.

Human Rights Resources

Browse CPA and Commonwealth publications

Download our resources

The Global Human Rights Implementation Agenda: The role of national parliaments

This policy brief was published in 2018 by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Universal Rights Group, with support from the CPA. It maps and analyses contemporary debates, decisions, and initiatives focused on parliamentary engagement with the universal human rights system, and assesses the contribution of the Commonwealth to worldwide efforts to strengthen that engagement.

The Commonwealth Charter

The Commonwealth Charter is a document of the values and aspirations which unite the Commonwealth. It expresses the commitment of member states to the development of free and democratic societies and the promotion of peace and prosperity to improve the lives of all the people of the Commonwealth. The Charter also acknowledges the role of civil society in supporting the goals and values of the Commonwealth.

The Parliamentarian: The Universal Declaration on Human Rights at 70

Latest Issue:

The Parliamentarian 2018 Issue Four - Human rights in the modern era:

This special issue of The Parliamentarian focuses on human rights in the modern era and celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Parliamentarian is the Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments and is published by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Podcast: Indigenous Peoples and Political Participation

Parliamentary Conversations in the Commonwealth

Human Rights News

2022 Athens Democracy Forum

2022 Athens Democracy Forum

Commonwealth Parliamentarians focus on challenges facing democracy at international forum

International Humanitarian Law for Commonwealth Parliamentarians

International Humanitarian Law for Commonwealth Parliamentarians

CPA launches updated handbook on International Humanitarian Law for Commonwealth Parliamentarians

Diversity in Parliament: Workplace Equality & Diversity Networks

Diversity in Parliament: Workplace Equality & Diversity Networks

New CPA publication introduces Workplace Equality & Diversity Networks (WEDNs) and provides examples of their use in Commonwealth Parliaments.