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Benchmarks and Standards for Democratic Parliaments: An Emerging International Consensus? ____________________ Evaluating Parliament: Objectives, Methods,

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Presentation on theme: "Benchmarks and Standards for Democratic Parliaments: An Emerging International Consensus? ____________________ Evaluating Parliament: Objectives, Methods,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Benchmarks and Standards for Democratic Parliaments: An Emerging International Consensus? ____________________ Evaluating Parliament: Objectives, Methods, Results, and Impact Session 1: Objectives K. Scott Hubli, NDI Director of Governance Programs Joint IPU-ASGP Meeting 22 October 2009; Geneva, Switzerland

2 Overview of Presentation Background and Context for the Increasing Focus on Normative Frameworks or Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments Overview of Current Efforts to Articulate or Codify Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments Opportunities and Challenges for Members and Staff of Parliament with Respect to Benchmarks Discussion: Recent Parliamentary Experiences with Parliamentary Benchmarks/Evaluations

3 Preliminary Points on Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments No magic formula or single list of characteristics of democratic parliaments; however, there does seem to be emerging consensus on key elements of norms and standards for democratic parliaments. The potential value of parliamentary benchmarks depends on ownership by, and usefulness to, parliaments and domestic advocacy organizations. Possible analogy to standards for democratic elections – although there are multiple systems and design choices, there is a general international consensus on principles that transcend the type of electoral system. Although there is a long history of sharing knowledge and best practice among parliaments, there has been growing interest/activity in the idea of “Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments” since 2006.

4 “Benchmarks” and Related Tools Benchmarks: CPA, APF, SADC-PF Self-Evaluation Guides: IPU Academic Indices and Rankings: Fish/Kroenig PPI Performance Indicators and Donor Assessment Tools: Canadian Parliamentary Centre; IDEA State of Democracy Methodology; NDI Power-Practice Survey Instrument; etc. CSO Parliamentary Report Cards: Parliamentary Report Cards in Uganda, Kosovo, others

5 Context for Recent Focus on Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments Multiple, overlapping interests in benchmarks or normative frameworks for evaluation of parliaments: From Parliaments: Renewed efforts to build public confidence, to build institutional capacity to manage increasing demands, to assert greater institutional independence, etc.; focus on development and advocacy tools From Donors Supporting Parliamentary Development: Need to justify expenditures on parliamentary development; pressure for increased analytic rigor in evaluation; focus on metrics

6 Context for Recent Focus on Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments From Academia: Increased academic interest in legislative development as critical element in the democratic institutionalization; focus on rankings of parliamentary power/effectiveness From Parliamentary Organizations: Opportunity to codify decades of learning and best practice and to share experience of member parliaments From Democracy Assistance Community/Civil Society: Increasing recognition of critical nature of parliaments in consolidating democratic systems; interest in applying “elections” model for assistance (i.e., international standards coupled with domestic monitoring); also recognition of need to strengthen methodologies for parliamentary scorecards/watchdog groups

7 Overview of Efforts to Codify Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments Pre-2006 Broad range of antecedents: IPU Universal Declaration on Democracy (1997) and related declarations by parliamentary organizations (e.g., CPA Workshop recommendations); CPA/WBI conferences on issue of benchmarks; growth of indicators/tools for measuring parliamentary performance 2006 IPU publishes Parliament and Democracy in the Twenty-first Century: A Guide to Good Practice CPA Study Group on Benchmarks for Democratic Legislatures NDI publication Toward the Development of International Standards for Democratic Legislatures (2006-7)

8 Overview of Efforts to Codify Benchmarks for Democratic Parliaments 2007-2008 Increased donor engagement (UNDP-WBI-DFID Donor Consultation on Parliamentary Development; Wilton Park Conference) Increased number of actors (APF and SADC-PF begin efforts to develop benchmarks) Increased development of tools based on benchmarks (IPU publishes Self-Assessment Toolkit for Parliaments; development of NDI survey instrument, etc.) 2009 and Beyond Continued development of benchmarks/ regional adaptation (APF version adopted; CPA regional workshops; outreach to other parliamentary associations) Fish: Handbook of National Legislatures: A Global Survey Stock-taking efforts (IPU-ASGP workshop; LSE study; planned 2010 global conference) Increased diffusion of benchmark tools and applications (including self-assessment tools, surveys, CSO engagement)

9 Example: NDI Discussion Document Toward the Development of International Standards for Democratic Legislatures: A Discussion Document for Review by Interested Legislatures; Donors and International Organizations Early effort to synthesize/codify benchmarks based on existing declarations, recommendations, norms, common practice from a range of sources; draft used as background paper for CPA benchmarks discussion. Very much a work-in-progress (CPA effort marks substantial improvement on initial NDI summary) Format of document: –Parliamentary Organization (Procedure; Committees; Party Groups and Interest Caucuses; Staff) –Parliamentary Functions (Law-making; Oversight; Representation) –Values (Accessibility; Transparency and Integrity; Participation and Public Consultation) (available in Arabic and English) Used as basis for survey tool to be discussed later today

10 Example: NDI Discussion Document Sample benchmarks or standards proposed for discussion in NDI document: Legislature shall provide adequate resources and facilities for party groups pursuant to a clear and transparent formula that does not unduly advantage the majority party. The legislature, rather than the executive branch, shall control legislative staff. The legislature shall have adequate resources to hire staff sufficient to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. Non-partisan staff shall be recruited and promoted on the basis of merit and equal opportunity. The approval of the legislature is required for the passage of all legislation, including budgets. Legislature shall have a reasonable period of time in which to review the proposed budget (normally 3 months). Only the legislature shall have the power to determine and approve the budget of the legislature. The legislature shall approve and enforce rules on conflicts of interest. The legislature shall utilize mechanisms for receiving and considering public views on proposed legislation.

11 Uses of Benchmarks for Parliaments Illustrative entry points/uses for parliamentary benchmarks include: –facilitating parliamentary self-assessment –helping prepare the parliamentary budget and/or strategic plan –guiding a parliamentary reform process –stimulating discussion on differences in parliamentary models. Advocacy tool for parliaments engaged in reform and modernization efforts, particularly in asserting greater independence and powers relative to the executive branch. For legislatures receiving international assistance, benchmarks provide a potential basis for cooperation/dialogue with donors and implementers and can provide a “politically neutral” basis for support. Tool for increasing international understanding regarding shared parliamentary challenges.

12 Issues for Parliaments with Respect to Benchmarks The current debate is weighted heavily toward donors, implementers and academics rather than MPs/staff; there is a continued need for engagement by IPU/ASGP, as well as by regional parliamentary associations, to lead and shape this debate. This is particularly true of benchmarks relating to parliamentary staff. The benchmarks cover parliamentary staff structure (minimum resources, management and recruitment, code of conduct, etc.) and would benefit from stronger engagement by ASGP There is growing interest in parliamentary ratings, in strengthening methodologies used by domestic parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs), and in increased donor support for PMOs. Parliaments obviously have a strong interest in shaping these developments.

13 Discussion: Experiences of parliaments with respect to self- assessment tools or benchmarks? Thoughts on the validity of the concept of parliamentary benchmarks? Lessons learned/challenges with respect to parliamentary evaluations or parliamentary benchmarks? Suggestions for future development of benchmarks and related tools?

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