On 17 July, WFD supported the organisation of the Parliament Day at the Open Government Partnership Summit in Tblisi, Georgia, where 300 representatives from parliaments, civil society and international organizations met to agree a way forward in developing open parliament commitments and innovative practices.
The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer shows an all-time low in the level of trust in institutions across the globe. Citizens continue to perceive their democratic institutions, including parliaments, to be captured by elites at the expense of ordinary people. It is at these challenging times that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) offers a useful way forward and a reason for hope.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP)
The Partnership was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.
Since its launch, OGP membership has grown from 8 to 76 countries, with hundreds of civil society organizations participating in the OGP process at the country level.
OGP national action plans, which contain commitments drafted by the executive and some legislative branches of government and civil society, are at the heart of the OGP model. These commitments provide a common point of reference for dialogue and interactions between governments, parliaments and civil society.
(Photo: WFD’s Director of Programmes, Devin O’Shaughnessy, addresses parliament day at the international conference hosted by the Parliament of Georgia in the margins of the OGP Global Summit, July 2018.)
The 2018 OGP Global Summit
The summit’s goal was to inspire OGP reformers to raise the level of ambition and push the open government agenda forward to address new challenges related to civic engagement, fighting against corruption, and public service delivery.
At the summit, WFD also organised a panel on ‘How four OGP commitments transformed the relationship between parliaments and citizens’, where delegates from Argentina, Georgia, Paraguay and Ukraine discussed whether new technologies and increased communication can bridge the divide between parliaments and citizens and lead to renewed trust.
The advent of civic tech and ability of citizens to interact and engage with those in power in non-physical ways presents both an opportunity and a threat to institutions that focus on in-person participation of elected representatives to legislate and oversee state policy. Through the lens of these four case studies, the panellists addressed issues of citizen participation in parliamentary processes. The panel, moderated by WFD, was attended by over 150 participants.
Parliament Day – The launch of OPeN
Parliament Day served to formally launch the Open Parliament e-Network (OPeN), of which WFD is a founding member, and its website. OPeN brings together NDI, Parlamericas, Directorio Legislativo, OECD/ODIHR and WFD and aims at supporting governments, legislatures and civil society in the process of developing and implementing OGP action plan commitments around legislative openness.
The network provides a forum for peer-to-peer sharing of best practices, tools, experiences, and innovative information technology on the issue of legislative openness.
In the margins of Parliament Day, members of the OPeN network met to agree specific activities to be undertaken together in 2018-2019.