A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. In the doctrine of the Separation of powers it is one of the three branches of the state alongside the executive and the judiciary. Its functions include representation of the people, law-making and oversight of the executive. Legislatures are known by many names, the most common being parliament and congress, although these terms also have more specific meanings.

Measures that could be taken to strengthen legislatures include the following (United Nations Public Administration Network, UNPAN):
  • Creating national constitutions that specify the legislature’s structure and functions and provide it with adequate power, authority and constitutional legitimacy to control the excesses of the executive;
  • Establishing good working methods for Parliament and its sub-units, with respect to management of time, the legislative agenda and disciplinary rules;
  • Enhancing the legislative and management skills of legislatures and their aides, including skills in drafting legislation, conducting investigations for committee work and handling the budget and budgetary process;
  • Structuring or restructuring the organizational set-up of parliamentary committees and improving their effectiveness by building capacities for process skills such as negotiation and mediation;
  • Developing greater public awareness of the legislature’s work and significance by, for example, broadcasting parliamentary sessions on national radio and television, keeping most legislative and committee sessions open to the public and engaging in formal and informal education about the role of the legislative branch;
  • Strengthening legislators’ outreach to and communication with their constituencies by establishing local, staffed constituency offices, using communications technologies for conveying opinions, and encouraging legislators to hold or attend town meetings in their districts and participate in other forums.
  • Linking national legislatures to local legislatures so that there is no contradiction between the legislatures at these different levels.

Further reading


The Fringes

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