Written evidence submitted by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy

 

Key Points

 

Westminster Foundation for Democracy is the UK's primary organisation in supporting democracy development.

The British Government has a strategic interest in having a democracy institute based in Westminster.

Countries such as Bangladesh welcome support from the UK as historical links mean that political systems are similar to the Westminster model.

DFID invests significant funds in supporting the improvement of governance around the world and its approach is becoming more focused on providing support to political institutions and processes. The Westminster Foundation for Democracy is a natural partner. A strategic partnership would benefit the development of this work.

 

Westminster Foundation for Democracy

Introduction

 

Established in 1992, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) is an independent public body sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from which it receives an annual grant. It is the UK's primary organisation in supporting the development of democracy; specialising in parliamentary strengthening and political party development.

 

Working with and through partner organisations, we seek to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties (through the work of the UK political parties), parliaments and the range of institutions that make up civil society. We believe that, for a democracy to flourish, all of these institutions must be strong and sustainable.

WFD currently receives a core grant from the FCO of 4.1 million and also attracts funds from the Department for International Development (DfID), other FCO sources, the British Council and others. WFD has moved from a predominantly grant making body to one which designs, develops and implements major parliamentary strengthening programmes around the world. Established to support the consolidation of democratic practices and institutions in the newly emerging democracies of Central and the Middle East and Asia.

 

WFD is uniquely place to support the development of political parties through party to party projects. This work aims to build Eastern Europe WFD now also operates in Africa, the capacity of like-minded parties to develop effective policy based platforms, which give voters a real choice; to build party structures and enable elected representatives to engage more effectively with their electorates; and to learn new communications and campaigning techniques. The political parties draw upon elected representatives, party staff and members to provide training.

 

In 2008, the Foundation brought together a formal consortium of partners, the Westminster Consortium for Parliaments and Democracy, to deliver parliamentary strengthening programmes in five countries over five years under DfID's Governance and Transparency Fund. This is a 5million programme working in Mozambique, Uganda, Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon.

 

Bangladesh

Westminster Foundation for Democracy are in close discussion with both DfID and the government of Bangladesh to deliver a six year 1.5million parliamentary and party support programme, although the duration and total funding has not yet been finalised. The parliamentary and party support programme is aimed at providing strategic and technical assistance to the parliament of Bangladesh as part of a wider programme of political modernisation. It will complement the USAID and UNDP in- country parliamentary and party programmes. The WFD programme will engage on party policy development; inter-parliamentary party relations; strengthening the capacity of parliamentary staff and the work of parliamentary committees.

 

Government support

WFD has earned a reputation as a successful provider of long term, sustainable democracy strengthening programmes around the world. We have built close and effective partnerships with other UK and international agencies working in similar fields.

Although we are and independent body we work closely with the FCO to ensure that there is good alignment between our work and their strategic priorities in the area of governance. A senior official at director level is nominated to oversee the relationship and there is regular contact between our staff and relevant FCO officials in the Human Rights, Governance and Democracy Department.

 

We are also very keen to build a more strategic relationship with DfID to support the Government's strategic goals in promoting good governance and democracy around the world and to strengthen the UK's commitments to international democracy assistance. We believe it would be appropriate for DFID to identify a similar level official to take forward our mutual aims.