a woman talks on a mike while sitting in a conference room
Representatives attend the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU in Indonesia
Photo:Inter-Parliamentary Union/Flickr

Why public engagement in the work of parliament matters?

In these times of uncertainty and anxiety, people are looking to their parliaments to respond with actions that will lead to a better future. Involving the community in decision-making through effective public engagement can help ensure that parliaments respond in ways that meet people’s expectations and aspirations.

Simply put, better parliamentary engagement further nurtures public trust in governance, and thus stems the rise of authoritarianism.

In 2022, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and its Member Parliaments will mark the International Day of Parliamentarism under the theme of public engagement. This follows the recent launch of the Global Parliamentary Report on Public engagement in the work of parliament.

Cover of Global Parliamentary Report 2022

Global Parliamentary Report 2022

The third Global Parliamentary Report examines public engagement in the work of parliament. The information, findings and recommendations in this report set out a road map for enhanced public engagement by parliaments and parliamentarians, working collaboratively with the community to achieve participatory, inclusive and responsive parliaments.

Background

The International Day of Parliamentarism is celebrated every year on 30 June, the date in 1889 on which the IPU was founded. The Day was established in 2018 through a United Nations General Assembly Resolution.

Instituting an international day for parliaments is particularly important at this critical time for parliamentary democracy, when people are losing trust in political institutions and democracy itself is facing challenges from populist and nationalist movements. If democracy is to thrive, then parliaments, as the cornerstone of functioning democracies, need to be strong, transparent, accountable and representative.

The International Day of Parliamentarism is a time to review the progress that parliaments have made in achieving some key goals to be more representative and move with the times, including carrying out self-assessments, working to include more women and young MPs, and adapting to new technologies.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/72/278, recognized the role of parliaments in national plans and strategies and in ensuring greater transparency and accountability at national and global levels.

What parliaments do

Strong parliaments are a cornerstone of democracy. They represent the voice of the people, pass laws, allocate funds to implement laws and policies, and hold governments to account. They work to make sure that policies benefit all people, especially the most vulnerable.

Parliaments also link international and national agendas, ensuring that governments implement international treaties and agreements that they sign up to. They play a vital role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has been working closely with them to help build their capacity in doing so.

In countries emerging from conflict, robust parliaments can help make possible a peaceful transition to a functioning democracy by healing divisions in society through dialogue and cooperation.

Parliaments and the United Nations

Member States have encouraged the growing involvement of parliamentarians and parliamentary organizations in the work of the United Nations. Parliamentary organizations play a leading role in promoting the engagement of parliaments in United Nations processes and activities. Indeed, there is a recognition that when parliamentarians communicate their concerns and aspirations to the United Nations, the Organization is empowered to work more closely with the people of the world.

The IPU, as the world organization of parliaments, connects national parliaments in order to promote greater transparency, accountability and participation at the global level. Along with other parliamentary organizations, IPU engages with the United Nations on activities that cover a broad range of issues, including peace and security, human rights and sustainable development.

Parliaments and the SDGs

Parliaments and parliamentary organizations played an active role throughout the negotiations on the post-2015 development framework, advocating strongly, for instance, for the inclusion of goals related to democratic governance. Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.

The IPU and partners have published a radically new approach to measuring parliamentary progress with the launch of a preliminary version of indicators that will allow parliaments to give themselves a health check.

The Indicators for Democratic Parliaments Based on SDG Targets 16.6 and 16.7 provide parliaments with a self-assessment tool that allows them to assess their democratic structure, operations, and activities against set criteria in order to build more resilient, effective, and independent institutions.

Did you know?

Watch

 

The international Day of Parliamentarism is also the anniversary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Watch 133 years of IPU's history in (just over) 133 seconds. How did the IPU grow from a handful of parliamentarians from 9 countries who met for the first time on 30 June 1889 to become the global organization of parliaments?

Resources

IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong reflects on how parliaments are faring, as parliaments around the world celebrate the International Day of Parliamentarism and the IPU's anniversary.

Close-up of two young girls against older women in the background

Half the world’s population is under 30 and yet only 2.6% of MPs globally represent this age group. The IPU has identified the six ways below to change this. Please take two minutes to pick one or more pledge(s) to make your parliament younger!

illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.