What is technical assistance?
Technical assistance is the provision of information, advice, training and consultancy to a parliament to help it develop and perform its functions more effectively.
What kind of technical assistance does the IPU provide?
Under the Technical Cooperation Programme, which was initiated in the early 1970s, the IPU:
The programme focuses on strengthening the parliamentary institution itself, as well as providing assistance to elected parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. The parliamentary system best suited to a particular country will invariably depend upon that country's history and culture, constitutional framework and other basic laws. These factors are taken into account in IPU-sponsored projects, especially when it comes to identifying suitable experts.
- provides advisory services,
- offers projects of assistance.
What are advisory services?
Advice can be provided on the role, structure and working methods of a national parliament, including:
- help in drafting or revising standing orders and rules of procedure;
- the rationalization of methods and organizational improvements in administrative and legislative services;
- improving the efficiency of committee secretariats;
- developing the library, archives, documentation, research, press, public information services, etc.;
- raising awareness of the need for harmonious relations between the ruling and opposition parties;
- ensuring greater participation of women in the parliamentary process.
What are technical assistance projects?
Such projects are jointly elaborated by the parliamentary authorities and the IPU experts. The process begins with an initial needs assessment mission by IPU expert(s) to the requesting parliament. They work with the authorities of the parliament (Presiding Officer and leaders of the different political parties) as well as senior administrative officials for the purpose of identifying the parliament's needs. A draft project document is subsequently prepared and submitted to the parliament for comments and approval.
Projects invariably relate to the development of the human resources (parliamentarians and parliamentary staff) and to the provision of material resources. Recent projects have included:
- awareness programmes for members of parliament including seminars and working visits abroad;
- the training of senior parliamentary staff, notably those involved in legislative work (for instance, committee staff);
- assistance towards the establishment and equipment of parliamentary libraries, documentation, research and information services, including training of their staff;
- the introduction of modern information technology tools;
- the building, enlargement, renovation and equipment of premises suited to the requirements of the parliament.
How can parliaments request technical assistance from the IPU?
Should a parliament wish to request technical assistance it only needs to write to the IPU. When drawing up the project document, the parliament concerned and the IPU, usually through a needs assessment mission, identify together the components of the project which can be implemented with existing domestic resources and those which require external and additional support. The Union then seeks to mobilise the external support which has been identified and organizes the implementation of the project.
At the end of the project, the IPU assists the parliament in undertaking an evaluation and submits a final report including a financial statement on the project.
How can parliaments support IPU technical assistance activities?
The IPU, as the world organisation of parliaments relies on its member parliaments for the recruitment of the experts required for the implementation of technical assistance projects. These experts are, as a rule, current or former practitioners (parliamentarians and senior parliamentary staff) who have also gained relevant international experience.
The IPU's member parliaments also contribute to training activities organised under these projects by hosting internships, study tours and working visits for foreign parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.
Who pays for technical assistance activities of the IPU?
A significant aspect of the IPU's work in support of parliaments is the identification of funding. Once a project has been finalized, the IPU can contact potential national and multilateral donors to obtain the necessary financial resources to implement the project.
Donors that have provided funding to IPU-sponsored projects in recent years include: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Commission (EC), the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), the World Bank Institute (WBI), and the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD).
How can I apply to the roster of experts for IPU technical assistance activities?
Relevant explanations can be found on the page entitled "Consultancy Work Opportunities in Technical Assistance to Parliaments", which includes an application form.