A Legislative Openness Working Group, co-anchored by the Government and the Congress of Chile and NDI, was formally launched at the annual summit in London on Thursday of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The working group is a partnership between civil society, parliaments and governments to share good practice on legislative openness, including information about commitments that governments and parliaments can make to engage citizens more actively in the legislative process.
The summit, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom, convened more than 1,000 members of government and civil society from more than 60 countries. The Leader of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon. Andrew Lansley, CBE, opened the official launch event of the Legislative Openness Working Group, stating, “Expectations are rising. People are used to commenting instantly on events and having their voices heard, and they rightly want to have that immediacy and voice heard in the legislative process.”
To date, 21 countries have indicated their intention to participate in the working group, which is one of five new thematic working groups in OGP.
“It is a particular honor for the Bicameral Commission for Transparency of the Chilean Congress to co-anchor the working group given the priority that it attaches to this issue of parliamentary openness,” said Senator Hernan Larraín, chair of the bicameral commission. “The Chilean Congress has taken steps to adopt its own action plan as part of OGP, to open Congress and encourage other parliaments to do the same.”
Senator Larraín and Scott Hubli, NDI’s director of governance programs, were joined in launching the Working Group by Hon. Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah, a member of the Parliament of Ghana; Hon. Budiman Sudjatmiko, a member of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia; Marja Wallin, parliamentary secretary of the Finnish Parliament; Akaash Maharaj, executive director of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC); and María Baron, chair of the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency.
Hon. Bedzrah called the events of the working group, an “eye-opener,” saying that, “Especially to see how far Chile has gone on these issues, may give us the opportunity to return to Ghana and explore developing a legislative action plan of our own.”
The launch event also shared several innovative approaches to the topic, including a presentation of efforts in Mexico to advance legislative openness. The joint presentation was made by Senator Arely Gómez González, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Transparency and Access to Information (COGATI), and Melissa Ortiz Massó from the Fundar Center for Research and Analysis. Mr. Hubli observed, “I think the level of collaboration between civil society and parliament was refreshing to participants from countries that have not enjoyed this level of cooperation.”
OGP was founded in 2011 as an international platform for reformers committed to making governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. It has since grown from eight countries to 61 participating countries. The governments of OGP have committed to work with civil society to develop action plans with commitments to improve government openness and transparency. While OGP has provided a new model of partnership between governments and civil society, to date, parliaments have lacked a formal mechanism for participating in the OGP process.
The 21 countries that have expressed their intent to participate in the Legislative Openness Working Group include Armenia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Moldova, Paraguay, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. There has been similarly strong interest from a broad range of civil society actors to participate, in addition to multilateral organizations such as GOPAC, the United Nations Development Programme and the Organization of American States.
The launch session can be viewed in full at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NJs0k-0tfA.
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Published Nov. 1, 2013