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IPU standards

Parliaments are the key institution of democracy. They are complex institutions, each with its own structure, traditions and rules. Parliaments are constantly evolving in order to meet new challenges and expectations. They can always improve—like democracy itself.

We believe that, although each parliament is unique, there are universal principles and core democratic values that are applicable to all parliaments. We are convinced that parliaments make a stronger contribution to democracy if they themselves embody democratic principles in the way they do their work.

We engage with parliaments from every continent and political system so as to draw out the common values and principles underpinning their work. We pull together this collective expertise into sets of standards and guidelines that present a vision of democratic parliaments and describe good practices that can make this vision a reality.

Central to these standards and guidelines are commitments to gender equality, political tolerance and the use of peaceful means to find solutions to the challenges facing society. We also advocate for the active involvement of citizens in the political process at all times, and not only at elections.

All our standards and guidelines are built on a foundational belief in democracy as a basic right which should be exercised in conditions of freedom and equality. They inform the work we do to help strengthen parliaments on the ground.

Our work on setting standards is part of our overall commitment to building democracy, and linked to the work of our Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.

In this section
IPU's toolkits help parliaments evaluate their performance. Photo: © IPU
We believe that parliaments are most effective when they themselves are democratic and adhere to core democratic values and universal principles.
© Norway Parliament
The Indicators for Democratic Parliaments are a multi-partner initiative led by the IPU in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Directorio Legislativo Foundation, Inter Pares / International IDEA, National Democratic Institute (NDI), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).
Photo: © Reuters/Omar Sobhani
The Universal Declaration of Democracy was adopted at the 161st session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council in 1997.
Photo: © Reuters / Rogan Ward
Unanimously adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 154th session (Paris, 26 March 1994) The Inter-Parliamentary Council, Reaffirming the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which establish that the