Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK) and international development charity VSO are pooling their expertise to improve representative democracy across the Commonwealth.
A memorandum of understanding signed by both organisations will see them explore opportunities for collaboration to improve governance in Commonwealth countries.
Priorities will include parliamentary strengthening, promoting women’s empowerment and building capacity of elected members to improve accountability.
Speaking about the decision, chair of the CPA UK Executive Committees, Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst MP said:
"CPA UK welcomes the opportunity to work with VSO, an organisation for whose work we have always had high regard.
"Combining CPA UK's expertise in designing international parliamentary strengthening programmes and VSO’s extensive global networks, this agreement will ensure value for money and strengthen our united efforts to improve representation across the Commonwealth."
VSO chief executive Marg Mayne said:
"VSO is working in some of the world’s poorest counties to empower disadvantaged people and increase their participation in the decisions that affect their lives. Working more closely with CPA UK will help us to support the development of democratic governance systems, structures and practices that increase accountability. It will help us to put people closer to the heart of development.
"Our work together in Sierra Leone has shown how much we can achieve together drawing on the CPA’s unrivalled knowledge of parliamentary strengthening and our extensive local networks."
CPA UK and VSO have worked together informally on several programmes to date, including an in-country training seminar for committee clerks of the Parliament of Sierra Leone in April 2012 and a seminar in Naivasha, Kenya run by UK members for members of the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association. With the formal agreement in place, it is anticipated that similar projects will follow, as CPA UK and VSO undertake to explore and develop other collaborations to further the priority objectives of each organisation.