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Setting 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
Parliaments should be representative, open, accessible, accountable and effective. Photo © United Nations/CCBY
There are five core values that are applicable to all parliaments, whatever their diverse cultures and traditions. A democratic parliament is one that is representative, open and transparent, accessible, accountable and effective.
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.
© Chamber of Deputies of Chile
The new Centre for Innovation in Parliament is a partnership between the IPU and parliaments to support parliamentary innovation through improved use of digital tools. The Centre provides a platform for parliaments to develop and share good practices in digital implementation strategies, and practical methods for building capacity.
Parliamentary oversight is extremely important to democracy and to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo: © IPU
The Global Parliamentary Report (GPR) is jointly produced by IPU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and draws on input from parliaments worldwide. It analyses the major issues affecting parliamentary practice and identifies current trends and good practices. It also offers policy options for parliaments to respond to current challenges
The Common Principles were elaborated with parliamentary and expert partners on the basis of decades of experience in technical assistance. Photo: © IPU
The Common Principles for Support to Parliaments set out the fundamental principles for planning and implementing programmes to strengthen parliaments.
Photo: © Reuters/Omar Sobhani
The Universal Declaration of Democracy was adopted at the 161st session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council in 1997.
Since 2019, IPU has convened a multi-stakeholder initiative to draft a set of Indicators for democratic parliaments, based on SDG targets 16.6 and 16.7. The purpose of the Indicators is to support parliaments’ learning and developing.
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