Launching the Open Parliament e-Network
Directorio Legislativo, the Latin American Legislative Transparency Network, the National Democratic Institute, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ParlAmericas, and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy are pleased to announce the launch of the Open Parliament e-Network (OPeN). OPeN builds upon the work of the Open Government Partnership’s Legislative Openness Working Group (LOWG) by bringing together leading international organizations who are committed to legislative openness.
In doing so, OPeN will lend pivotal support to the broader open government agenda. Lasting and meaningful steps towards open, inclusive and accountable government require the support and buy-in of parliaments. Open government is not a series of technocratic fixes or procedural touch-ups, but a fundamentally political endeavour that drives and demands changes in how we ‘do government’. Since parliaments are key players on the political scene, OGP welcomes them as indispensable partners for open government reform.
As a part of a 2016 strategic refresh, the OGP steering committee sunset the working group model to prioritize relationships with partners working on thematic areas of expertise within open government. OPeN provides a new, flexible mechanism for the open parliament community to continue to work with the OGP Support Unit on issues of legislative engagement. There are three principal methods of participating as a member of OPeN. Organizations with a commitment to working on legislative openness internationally are invited to apply to become a full partner in the Consortium. Members of parliament and senior parliamentary staff who are committed to sharing their expertise on issues of parliamentary openness and innovation may seek membership on OPeN’s Parliamentary Leadership Council. Finally, civic organizations that are working on issues of parliamentary openness and transparency in their respective countries are able to participate as a local affiliates of OPeN.
The Open Government Partnership’s Legislative Openness Working Group (LOWG) was originally launched in 2013 to build awareness of OGP and open government to a broader political and parliamentary audience. Co-chaired by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Congress of Chile (co-chairs of the Groupo Bicameral de Transparencia, Senator Hernán Larraín and Deputy Patricio Vallespín), the LOWG has engaged with over 70 parliaments through providing technical support and opportunities for peer learning through Global Legislative Openness Conferences, exchanges, and the creation of a number of resources on legislative openness commitments. Since its creation, members of the LOWG have also supported four iterations of the Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW), which has supported hundreds of activities in OGP countries designed to strengthen parliamentary commitment to open government and open parliaments.
In 2016, the OGP Steering Committee adopted a legislative engagement policy, giving parliaments the choice to engage in OGP through the inclusion of parliamentary commitments in the action plan (AP) or the submission of an open parliament plan as a stand-alone “chapter” of the AP. With 23% of AP commitments requiring some form of legislative action in order to implement commitments, either through enactment of laws or provision of budgetary resources, this policy allows for even greater parliamentary engagement and participation in the OGP process.
The partners of OPeN consist of international/regional organizations or parliaments who have a demonstrated commitment to providing support for legislative openness in multiple countries. The members have indicated their intended specific contributions to advance parliamentary openness and, both internationally and closely within specific countries. Parliaments that have an interest in working with the Consortium to advance the shared goal of legislative openness—either by receiving or providing technical assistance on these issues—should feel free to contact the Consortium through any of the participating member organizations or through the email address: email@example.com.
OPeN will also provide a platform for MPs who have championed the issue of legislative openness through serving on the Parliamentary Leadership Council. The leadership council consists of current or former members of parliament, or key staff members (such as secretaries general) with substantive expertise in advancing open parliament commitments in national action plans or Open Parliament Plans (OPP). The members of OPeN draw on members of the Parliamentary Leadership Council to provide technical expertise to interested parliaments. Similarly, parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) or civil society organizations (CSOs) who are working on issues of parliamentary openness as a member of the OPeN community are welcome to participate in the Consortium. The only requirement is to express a commitment to the Declaration on Legislative Openness and to have a track record of constructive engagement on these issues. Interested MPs, PMOs or civil society organizations are also encouraged to contact the Consortium through a participating member or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OPeN’s founding partners are excited to collaborate in supporting the growing number of opportunities to continue to grow and strengthen the legislative openness movement.
– Maria Baron, Global Executive Director of Directorio Legislativo, OGP Civil Society Steering Committee Member, and the partners of OPeN