WFD’s Chief Executive reflects on the importance of strong institutions and good leadership in strenthening democracy in the decades since 1989 and today.
On 18-20 June, representatives of Commonwealth parliaments met at Wilton Park to review and update the 2006 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Benchmarks on Democratic Legislatures.
The meeting, organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) under the Commonwealth Partnership for Democracy (CP4D), brought together representatives from the Maltese, Canadian, Indian, Pakistani, New Zealand and Australian Capital Territory parliaments, as well as from UNDP and NDI.
The CPA Benchmarks have provided a minimum standard to be met by all Commonwealth Parliaments and a description of how a Parliament should act, behave and function. They reflect the deep democratic traditions across the Commonwealth and help Parliaments to strengthen their procedures in response to changing practices and political developments in their own countries.
At Wilton Park, the delegates reiterated the Commonwealth’s strong commitment to deepening the democratic systems in each member state as reflected in the Commonwealth Charter. This commitment applied to all the Commonwealth’s parliaments, which included some of the smallest and some of the biggest in the world. The work to update the Benchmarks needed to reflect this diversity and to incorporate a range of commitments that the international community had made in the past 12 years, particularly in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Delegates agreed that responsibility for addressing improvements in procedures remained with each parliament but the Benchmarks should be a helpful tool for them, and for civil society and other organisations in supporting them with this work.