On every continent, parliaments are working together with civil society to ensure that legislative information and processes are open to the citizens those parliaments represent. And some of the most innovative digital governance and monitoring tools are being built around parliamentary data. This September, the co-chairs of the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) will celebrate these collaborations and encourage additional OGP commitments by launching a first-ever Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) from September 15-25. GLOW will help to coordinate a number of events happening around the world, making it easier for citizens to follow these events with a common hashtag and shared messaging. You are invited to join parliamentarians, civil society organizations, civic hackers and other stakeholders who will be sharing their stories and carrying on the global discussion at #OpenParl2014.
As the global open government movement gains strength, there has been increasing focus on how countries can build and strengthen a social ‘ecosystem’ that supports meaningful, sustainable openness. Simply publishing government data in open data formats, while important, will not necessarily drive governance innovation. The open government ecosystem also needs politically savvy advocates, software developers and technical experts to analyze and disseminate the data, and to use this data to design successful advocacy campaigns, citizen participation tools and educational materials.
The Legislative Openness Working Group was formed within the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2013, with the recognition that parliaments also need to play a robust role in the open government ‘ecosystem.’ Given the constitutional role that legislatures play, it is important that legislatures provide oversight of OGP commitments made by the executive branch, and also consider incorporating commitments on legislative openness into a country’s OGP action plan. More broadly, greater openness of the legislative process incentivizes parliamentarians to legislate in the interests of their constituents and enables citizens to participate more effectively in making key decisions that affect their lives. The Chilean Congress, one of the co-anchors of the Legislative Openness Working Group, has been a pioneer in including legislative openness commitments as part of the country’s OGP action plan -- but it is only one of many countries in which parliaments and civil society organizations have joined forces to forge legislative openness commitments and advance open government. Similar efforts are currently underway in countries as diverse as Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, and Montenegro, among others.
The Working Group will celebrate successes over the past year and plan for another productive year this September with two meetings--a regional meeting hosted by the Parliament of Montenegro in Podgorica, from September 15 to 16, and an annual Working Group meeting which will occur alongside the ParlAmericas Plenary Assembly in Chile on September 24 and 25. The first of these events coincides with the International Day of Democracy on September 15; the second coincides with an OGP High Level Event on September 24 at the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Several Working Group members and partners have expressed a desire to organize parallel events to advance legislative openness in their own countries. Other national and sub-national legislatures and civil society organizations are also considering or are planning events such as civic hackathons or ‘Open Parliament Days’ between September 15 and September 25. Through Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW), the Legislative Openness Working Group’s co-chairs are pleased to offer event organizers access to shared branding and outreach materials, in order to promote peer-to-peer learning and collaboration among these various events. GLOW will provide transparency leaders worldwide with an opportunity to collaborate, share best practices and make progress toward adopting and implementing legislative openness commitments.
The Working Group encourages everyone to follow the events during Global Legislative Openness Week and participate in the discussion using #OpenParl2014. You are also invited to be a part of GLOW by hosting national (or subnational) events to raise awareness on legislative openness and help to advance concrete reforms.
For more information or to collaborate, please contact Sarah Welsh, who is coordinating GLOW efforts on behalf of the Working Group co-chairs.