International IDEA supports parliaments around the world to be more accountable, inclusive and representative by:
- developing and building consensus on key issues of political and democratic reform;
- improving the capacity of relevant committees to provide democratic accountability and oversight of government;
- making parliamentary mandates and internal procedures more inclusive of women and minorities;
- building greater programmatic cohesion of parties' parliamentary groups; and
- expanding the outreach of parliament, particularly engagement between parliamentarians, their constituencies and other democratic stakeholders.
Our approach to parliamentary support is based on sharing comparative experiences between parliaments. We enable collaboration by providing cutting-edge practical knowledge and problem-solving methodologies that respond to the specific capacities and needs of the parliaments we work with.
We also draw on our expertise from supporting political parties, recognizing the crucial link between a strong party system and a functional parliament, and from our knowledge-based initiatives on the issues of money in politics and gender inclusive participation and representation.
How we support global parliamentary development
Through various partnerships, we have developed a range of knowledge resources, tools and databases to support parliamentary development globally.
International IDEA is a permanent observer to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which works with national parliaments to protect and build global democracy through political dialogue and concrete action. Since 1996, we have partnered with its Secretariat to develop knowledge resources and organize global forums and seminars. For example, we:
- published Making Reconciliation Work: The Role of Parliaments—a book providing insights into the role of parliaments in countries transitioning from conflict and pitfalls to avoid on the road to reconciliation.
- launched iKNOW Politics (in partnership with IPU, UNDP and UN Women)—an online platform for women in politics to exchange experiences and resources and collaborate on issues relating to women’s political participation.
- co-sponsored Engaging Youth on Democracy (in partnership with IPU, UN Department of Political Affairs, the International Peace Institute and Community of Democracies)—an event exploring how young people engage with politics.
- launched the Gender Quotas Database and published the Atlas of Electoral Gender Quotas, (in partnership with IPU and Stockholm University)—resources on the use of legislated gender quotas around the world.
European Commission Action in Support to Parliaments
In partnership with the European Commission (EC), we contributed to the development of Engaging and Supporting Parliaments Worldwide: Strategies and Methodologies for EC Action in Support to Parliaments, a practical tool for EU staff, parliamentarians, donors and practitioners to develop parliamentary strengthening programmes.
We are one of the Implementing Board members of AGORA, the leading global knowledge platform on parliamentary development. A direct response to the growing need for coordination and communication within the community of practice, AGORA facilitates information exchange between parliamentarians, staff and the community of practice around the world. As a member of the Implementing Board, we jointly lead and actively support the portal alongside the European Commission, United Nations Development Program, the World Bank Group, National Democratic Institute and EC.
Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers
In 2009, we published the revised edition of Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, a book covering women’s access to the legislature. It looks at the obstacles women confront when entering parliament, solutions to overcome these obstacles (such as quotas) and strategies for women to influence politics once they are elected to parliament. The book is designed for activists, academics, researchers, journalists, and other stakeholders around the world working to advance women in politics.
How we support national parliaments
Some examples of how we have supported national parliaments across Asia and Latin America are provided below.
Since 2014, International IDEA has worked closely with members of parliament and parliamentary staff from the National Assembly and the National Council of Bhutan to provide capacity development activities, training and mentoring, for example, to improve skills in media relations, research and legislative drafting. We also supported the development of the Legislative Drafting Manual, Parliamentary Oversight Manual, Committee Functions Manual and Review of Bills Guidelines (2016-2017).
Until 2016, International IDEA supported the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia to develop its Legislative Agenda, with an emphasis on gender mainstreaming. We also developed a training programme for interparliamentary organizations that Bolivia is a member to, delivered in partnership with the Plurinational Public Management School. Currently, we are developing a programme to strengthen the Bolivia’s subnational parliaments, a key step towards consolidating wider decentralization efforts.
Since 2015, International IDEA has worked to strengthen relations between political parties and parliamentarians in Haiti in order to improve the parliament’s legislative performance. We are one of the few international partners to build and maintain a strong working relationship with parliamentary structures in Haiti.
Since 2012, International IDEA has engaged extensively with the Myanmar Hluttaws (houses of parliament). We have provided expert testimony and comparative knowledge resources on legal frameworks for elections, constitution-building, democratic transitions and democratic reform. In partnership with the Parliamentary Centre (Canada), we worked with women parliamentarians from all parliaments to identify strategies to improve female representation. We also worked with staff from Myanmar’s Public Accounts Committee and National Planning and Financial Development Committee to better understand the budget cycle and international best practices regarding parliament’s role in the budget cycle.
Since 2017 we work in the project Parliamentary Oversight for Better Service Delivery, a project in support of the Myanmar Hluttaws to strengthen their capacity to provide for democratic accountability, oversight and public engagement with key state agencies, civil society and the media. The project supports wider efforts to reform Myanmar’s public financial management and democratic accountability mechanisms.
Since 2009, International IDEA has supported Peru’s caucuses to undertake strategic planning to strengthen voting unity, facilitated the multi-party reform of parliamentary procedures through technical assistance, and supported the development of methodologies for public hearings and the functioning of three parliamentary committees. We also worked with women members of parliament and the Congress of Women Commission to promote greater gender equity within the Peruvian parliament.