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Commonwealth Parliamentary Association reflects on the crucial role they play

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As Commonwealth Parliamentarians gather in Accra for the 66th
Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference this week, Stephen Twigg, Secretary-General of
the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has reflected on the crucial role they
can play.

“As the world seeks to address a wide range of daunting challenges, the importance of
sharing best practices and knowledge among Commonwealth Parliaments and
Parliamentarians have never been greater. Continuing to develop and enhance the
performance of Commonwealth Parliamentarians has been the mission of the CPA since it
was established some 112 years ago.

“The CPA organises its annual conference to address global political issues and
developments in the parliamentary system through conference workshops and sessions for
Parliamentarians representing Parliaments and Legislatures throughout the
Commonwealth.

“This is the first time that the CPA Ghana Branch and the Parliament of Ghana will host the
conference and so the CPA is delighted to be in Accra for the 66th Commonwealth
Parliamentary Conference this week. The CPA Africa Region is active within our nine
Regions, and this will be the 17th time that the Region has hosted the annual conference.

In a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, it said as one of the largest
gatherings of Commonwealth Parliamentarians, the conference would address the main
theme: “The Commonwealth Charter 10 years on: Values and Principles for Parliaments to
uphold.”

The Commonwealth Charter anniversary offers a chance to review the relevance of its
values, principles, and measure how the Commonwealth is progressing against
commitments.

For the CPA, as the parliamentary wing of the Commonwealth, many key articles within the
Commonwealth Charter influence its work – including Article I on Democracy; Article II on
Human Rights; Article VI on the Separation of Powers between the Executive, the
Legislature, and the Judiciary; Article VII on the Rule of Law; Article VIII on Good
Governance; Article IX on Sustainable Development.

“The Charter also influences the work of our networks – Commonwealth Women
Parliamentarians (Article XII Gender Equality); CPA Small Branches (Article XIV Recognition
of the needs of Small States); and Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (Article
XVI Role of Civil Society) as well as our youth work (Article XIII Importance of Young
People).”

It said the annual conference offered the opportunity for Members of Parliament and
parliamentary staff to benefit from professional development, mutual learning, and the
sharing of best practice with colleagues.

The timing of the 66th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference comes against the
backdrop of conflict, global economic uncertainty, widespread financial hardship, and the
ongoing impact of global pandemics.

“I know that MPs across the Commonwealth look forward to the opportunity to come
together and we are reminded that we live in an inter-connected world community in which
we have a shared responsibility to address shared challenges.

With the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development at its midpoint, the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association is committed to fostering the values of the Commonwealth and
the UN SDGs across our membership and beyond.

“Whilst our work relates particularly to SDG16, focusing on peace, justice, and strong
institutions, we are also committed to supporting Parliaments and Parliamentarians to play
an active role in the delivery of all SDGs in their own areas, regionally and on an
international level.

“Parliamentarians have an important responsibility to hold governments to account on their
global commitments as well as ensuring that necessary legislation and budget measures are
put in place. I was pleased to be in New York earlier this month to launch the new CPA
Parliamentary Academy course on the SDGs to coincide with the UN SDGs summit.

“With approximately 60% of the Commonwealth’s 2.6 billion citizens across its 56 countries
currently under the age of 30 years, in the CPA Africa Region, the Commonwealth has a
responsibility to engage proactively with young people. The CPA’s Commonwealth Youth
Parliament is an example of such youth engagement.”

The Commonwealth can position itself strongly and unequivocally beside its citizens and help
to tackle the inequalities that cause so much poverty and injustice in our societies.

Parliaments have a duty to represent the people they serve-one way that they fulfil this
responsibility is by being inclusive, accountable, open, and transparent public institutions.
It said small Island Developing States have been powerful voices within the Commonwealth
as they find themselves in the frontline of the battle to avert a climate disaster and
Commonwealth could help to amplify the voices of those who need the action to protect the
environment and to promote sustainable development.

“In recent years, we have seen increasing international concern about actions or policies
that erode or threaten shared values like democracy, good governance, and human rights.

Within the Commonwealth, the CPA works with others to defend these values. Part of our
work is to highlight the key role of Commonwealth Parliaments in upholding these
principles.

Each of the almost 180 Parliaments within the CPA is a unique institution reflecting its own
special historical evolution and the CPA represents Legislatures at the national, state,
provincial and territorial level. What all Parliaments have in common is a capacity to
strengthen democracy by acting as powerful agents of change. Success here is if Members
have the necessary support to carry out their parliamentary and constitutional
responsibilities.

One of the CPA’s roles is to provide a diverse range of activities and initiatives to enable our
members to learn from and communicate with each other.

“This is one of the essential functions of our three CPA networks – the CPA Small Branches,
the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and the Commonwealth
Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD).

These networks connect Parliamentarians so they can learn from each other and provide
platforms for their voices and common interests to be heard throughout the
Commonwealth.

“As Commonwealth Parliamentarians gather in Ghana this week for the 66th Commonwealth
Parliamentary Conference, they will reaffirm and celebrate our Commonwealth shared values
and our commitment to the Commonwealth Charter. Let us hope that we can work together
across the Commonwealth, and beyond, to learn lessons and dedicate ourselves once again
to meeting the many challenges faced by Parliaments and citizens alike.”

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