This post provides a directory of organisations involved or interested in parliamentary strengthening in relation to library and research services. This is intended to assist colleagues seeking such support and to facilitate cooperation and information sharing. The information was gathered for a review of the issue offered in support of work by IFLAPARL, the global body for parliamentary library and research services.
The directory is also available as a Twitter list – the majority of the organisations are on that platform – which also includes other bodies in the field of parliaments and democracy promotion. (A Twitter list for organisations and people in the specific field of parliamentary libraries and research is also available).
Following the end of the Cold War there was an upsurge in democracy and significant investment in developing parliamentary library and research services in many countries worldwide. IFLAPARL as a body and individual members of IFLAPARL were heavily involved. In the last ten years there appears to have been a decline in calls on IFLAPARL for such involvement – is that because activity has declined or because other sources of expertise are being used? We have been aware of high-cost projects where IFLAPARL might have helped but other actors were used. Equally, there is a perception that democracy support might have a lower priority than 10-20 years ago, and that support for library & research services in particular might be a lower priority now. As voluntary work for IFLAPARL, this desk research project has sought to review information on the main players in parliamentary strengthening, focusing on those known or believed to have an interest in library & research services. Personal knowledge within IFLAPARL, as well as documentary sources, was used to identify an initial list of organisations.
The present research discovered almost 60 bodies believed to have an interest in the field of parliamentary library & research services, of which almost half had some trace in their public information of activity or content relevant to parliamentary library & research services – albeit not always very substantial or recent. This listing may be only a fraction of the bodies actually involved. Amongst the sixty there is not only overlap but also many inter-connections – through partnerships and sources of funding. (As just one example, in the EU-JDID project (pictured) the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is listed as a participant; three of the four other participating providers are themselves constituent members of the EPD). As a study on parliamentary strengthening noted in 2015, over “the past fifteen years, there has been a proliferation in the number and types of players that support parliamentary reform, among them international, governmental, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national governments, parliaments, and academic institutions”. (Global mapping and analysis of parliamentary strengthening programs‘ study for SDC by Democracy Reporting International, p. 4). It is hard to say if support for strengthening parliamentary library & research services has reduced or if it is only IFLAPARL’s involvement that has declined. Many of the organisations that IFLAPARL had contacts with in the past seem no longer active in our field, while many organisations have joined the field without contact with IFLAPARL. In this complex and rapidly changing landscape it is not altogether surprising that IFLAPARL is unknown to some of the new players.
Support to parliamentary library & research services is going on without effective sharing of expertise and experience. This is not a question of bad intentions but lack of awareness and of satisfactory mechanisms. More transparency and information sharing might avoid duplication of effort, allow the wider professional community to add value (and help avoid pitfalls) and increase learning all-round. There are efforts to address the issue of coordination for parliamentary strengthening as a whole e.g. the Agora project (see below) provides a platform for information sharing, and the IPU Common Principles for Support to Parliaments are an attempt to standardise approaches to parliamentary strengthening. My recommendation to IFLAPARL will be to engage more with the parliamentary strengthening community, to try to build links with them and between them around the concerns of parliamentary library & research services.
What the directory covers
It is not part of this review, but an additional (large) part of parliamentary strengthening activity is carried on peer-to-peer, with a parliament providing direct assistance to another parliament, sometimes with the support of a foreign ministry, development agency or one of the specialist organisations listed below. Some parliaments have internal agencies for such outreach work. This peer-to-peer activity is not always visible or reported beyond the participating institutions. I have not attempted to list the parliaments active in strengthening library & research services. Similarly, many countries have development aid agencies and these might have parliamentary projects. I have looked only at those known to be major players in this particular field: the USA, UK, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium. (France is also active but works mainly through its own parliament). And in addition to this individual peer-to-peer parliamentary strengthening, there is the ‘mutual aid’ of collective self-help in IFLAPARL and the regional associations.
The lists below provide the name of the organisation, the country of its HQ and a link to its website. The first list – organisations for which some activity or content was found in relation to library and research services – also includes an example of evidence for that activity/content.
Thanks to Ellie Valentine for her invaluable assistance with the initial identification of organisations. She is not responsible for any errors or omissions here.
Disclaimer: Best efforts have been made to identify relevant organisations and activity/content. The information is provided as an indication only, was as found online in February 2021 and Information@Work declines all responsibility for errors and omissions. Please contact us if you are aware of any error or omission or update required and the list will be revised accordingly. This is not an IFLAPARL publication and it has no responsibility for this content.
Directory of parliamentary strengthening and democracy promoting organisations relevant to parliamentary library & research services
1. Organisations with activity/content related to library & research services as of February 2021
African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA)
Agora (portal managed by UNDP with partners)
“From its launch in 2010, the AGORA Portal for Parliamentary Development has played a leading role in the parliamentary development community as a knowledge and learning hub for parliamentarians, parliamentary staff, development partners and academia” Main current partners: UNDP, Inter Pares & WFD.
Current version, relaunched Nov 2020, has, so far, little of interest for library/research. First version (2010-) had content on library & research – some of it still listed
Centre for International Development, State University of New York
EPD – European Partnership for Democracy
“brings together a network of 16 organisations specialising in the different parts of a democratic system” Some organisations are listed separately here – WFD, NIMD, DIPD
Some recent work with library & research services (but not clear from website)
European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships
Works with partners, including Inter Pares
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Active with library & research services but not recently
Has experts who write blog posts but no current work apparent
House Democracy Partnership
A bi-partisan U.S. House Commission. See also IRI and NDI
The global association of parliamentary library & research services. Publishes professional guidance; runs capacity-building events sometimes in cooperation with other bodies in this list; individual members may work on parliamentary strengthening events/projects (usually with the support of their parliament).
INASP (International Network for Advancing Science and Policy)
Active, last project ended 2017
Inter-American Development Bank
Activity but not recent
International Development Research Centre
Recent content, but not clear if actor or just reporting
International Republican Institute
Works (also) with House Democracy Partnership (see also NDI)
EU funded and operated by International-IDEA. Emphasis on peer-to-peer aid from EU parliaments to other parliaments.
No apparent direct activity on library/research, but a partner in ‘Agora’
Responsible for implementation of the EU-funded Inter-Pares project
The ‘Centre for Innovation in Parliament’ has interest in digital library & research services. https://www.ipu.org/our-impact/strong-parliaments/setting-standards/centre-innovation-in-parliament
Co-published with IFLAPARL the Guidelines for research services; World e-Parliament Report has library & research element; co-sponsored conference with IFLAPARL; IPU also provides direct support to e.g. parliamentary research services but not visible online?
National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Works with House Democracy Partnership (see also IRI)
Relevant activity but not recent, except through HDP
Norad / The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
Study in 2015 noted that NORAD was third largest bilateral funder of parliamentary strengthening 1999-2009, after US and UK. Its role now seems concerned with evaluation of work done. “Most of the Norwegian development aid is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norwegian embassies abroad” (NORAD website 2021)
Relevant activity but not recent
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)
Relevant activity but not recent
Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services
“PIPS was formally established in 2008 under an act of the Parliament as an exclusive, independent research & capacity building facility for the Parliamentarians”.
E.g. Training “Research and Informational Support for Legislators” at https://www.pips.gov.pk/services/capacity-building-and-skill-development-services
Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia
PRIDE (formerly BPST)
Training for Members and support staff, India and beyond
Yes, training for library & research staff part of the mandate. Also training of Members & their assistants. But no obvious activity in current programme of events
SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation)
South African Institute for International Affairs
Activity, but not recent
South African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST)
Co-publishes Global Parliamentary Report with IPU. One of the founders of Agora and its managers
Active, provides “support to 60 parliaments” though not clear if directly supports library/research service development. Provides info e.g. handbook for parliamentary implementation of SDGs makes several references to research services. Manages Agora which has some library/research content
USAID Center for Democracy, Human Rights and Governance (USAID/DRG)
Westminster Foundation for Democracy
UK public body with core funding from the UK government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Recent activity.
2. Organisations which may have (past) activity/content on library & research services
African Union (African Governance Platform)
“African Governance Platform. Coordinating African Union Organs & Regional blocs with democratic governance mandate. Promoting good governance”
Possible interest in library & research services, but only reference is to an online African law library, now apparently defunct
Assemblee Parliamentaire du Francophonie
Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA)
Site no longer functions. Dormant Facebook page
It is understood that this organisation ceased to exist some years ago. (Information received 7/21)
Austrian Development Agency
Belgian development cooperation
Renamed ‘PRIDE’ – see first list
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
No longer exists see Global Affairs Canada
Centre for Legislative Development International
May be dormant/closed
Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy
Interest appears direct democracy more than parliamentary
Now merged with Foreign & Commonwealth Office (see first list)
“We are a non-partisan organization that works to strengthen legislatures and consolidate democracy in Latin America”
Electoral Reform International Services
Website not online and Twitter account suspended 2/21
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
German language info (mainly)
Global Affairs Canada
Absorbed former CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency).
Nothing specific found. General interest
Main focus is on elections but wider interest in democracy
Nothing specific found but interest in informed legislatures for purposes of accountability
Institute for Democracy in South Africa
King Prajadhipok’ s Institute in Thailand
Website in Thai language only
No relevant activity/content apparent.
Konrad Adenauer Foundation
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Provides training to parliamentary staff and others “to provide experience and expertise on security issues particularly to those working in the Foreign Affairs and Defence and Security Committees”
Netherlands Institute for Multi-Party Democracy
Parliamentarians for Global Action
“Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) was established in 1978 in Washington, D.C., by a group of concerned parliamentarians from around the world to take collective, coordinated and cohesive actions on global problems, which could not be successfully addressed by any one government or parliament acting alone.”
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
World Bank Institute
Does not appear to exist any more, at least with a recognisable title…Was a founder of Agora in 2008 and significant in parliamentary strengthening at least to c. 2012