The Role of the Inter-parliamentary Union in Strengthening Parliaments in Africa.
The parliament, as one of the institutions of democracy, is unique. For democracy to take root, citizens need ways to make their voices heard and incorporated into policy decisions. Parliaments provide such ways to articulate popular will. They serve as the peoples’ branch of government alongside the executive and the judicial branches as necessary institutions for democratic good governance.
Parliaments in Africa face enormous capacity challenges, especially in countries where a strong executive or the military has dominated the political system. In such circumstances, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has been a leader in developing strategies and tools to assist parliaments effectively perform their fundamental tasks of representation, lawmaking, and oversight.
Consequently, the study focuses on an overview of the IPU experience in parliamentary strengthening in Africa with particular emphasis on Nigeria. It describes what the IPU has done and is doing to promote responsive and effective parliaments in Africa and highlights ways in which improved parliamentary performance has strengthened democracy in Africa.
Our findings revealed that the effort of the IPU at strengthening parliaments in Africa include building support for democratic reforms within Parliaments; improving the capacity of Members of Parliaments in lawmaking; enhancing legislative oversight of the executive branch, ensuring sound management and improving infrastructure at development.
Democratisation and transnationalisation are two fundamental trends in the evolution of international affairs. In parliamentary affairs, they come as international parliamentary institutions. They provide multilateral fora where parliamentarians and staff learn from each other to advance their skills, knowledge and share experiences. The emergence of international parliamentary institutions has given rise to parliamentary diplomacy.
One of such international parliamentary institution is the IPU. It is an international organisation with membership from Parliaments of democratic countries1 . It represents the legislative branch of government on a global scale. It was founded in 1889 by William Rander Cremer of the United Kingdom and Frederic Passey of France who were parliamentarians. Its headquarters is located in Geneva.
Its objectives include fostering peace and security among its members; promotion of democracy and respect of human rights and contribution to the development and strengthening of parliamentary institutions. In the pursuit of these objectives, it brings together representatives of national parliaments to discuss issues of mutual concern. The organisation has more than 100 members.
It is a precursor to one of the most prestigious international legal institutions, the (ICT), which is one of the organs of the United Nations. The IPU has been performing exceedingly well since inception. This is discernible from the remarkable interventions it has made in strengthening parliamentary institutions, especially in Africa.
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