Parliaments are increasingly being recognized world-wide as playing a crucial role in the achievement of democracy and good governance. Indeed, it is parliament's traditional responsibility to debate and pass legislation that provides a legal framework for good governance and the rule of law. Besides, parliament, through its oversight function ensures accountability which is also an indispensable ingredient of good governance.
Recent years have seen an ever growing number of countries undergoing fundamental structural changes involving transition towards multi-party parliamentary democracy. In many of these countries, this process is accompanied by the introduction of a market economy which requires the adaptation of existing laws and the adoption of new legislation. Common to all of these countries is the significantly enhanced role which the new national constitutional framework assigns to the parliamentary institution.
These developments have been accompanied by a growing awareness in the international community of the need to assist both long-established and fledgling parliaments to cope with the new challenges. This is especially relevant for the new parliaments as many of them have emerged from conflict situations, are still quite fragile and often lack adequate resources allocated within the national budget. Moreover, the legislative agenda is often very extensive, sometimes overwhelming, and the parliament often does not have the required experience, trained staff, adequate information and material to serve its members efficiently. In addition, many of the elected parliamentarians are not accustomed to working in a multi-party environment and there is a need to ensure greater participation of women, not only in the parliamentary process but also in the wider political environment.
The role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
The IPU operates a Technical Cooperation Programme under which it assists national parliaments, particularly in developing countries, to improve the organization of their work and strengthen their infrastructure. Under this programme, which was initiated in the early 1970's, the IPU:
The programme focuses on strengthening the parliamentary institution itself, as well as providing assistance to elected parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. It systematically integrates this work with gender and human rights perspectives. Indeed, certain projects are specifically focused on ensuring greater participation of women in the parliamentary process.
- provides advisory services,
- offers projects of assistance.
To learn more about it, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page containing detailed information about the Union's Technical Cooperation Programme. For data on specific technical cooperation projects, select a country from the list above.