Fostering a stronger and more constructive relationship between civil society and parliaments is central to OGP’s mission. To date, however, many parliaments and civil society organizations have been reluctant to engage in open parliament reforms. Parliaments often have a fragile relationship with CSOs, which can be quite hostile towards its institution and members, not fully appreciating its potential. In turn, CSOs view parliaments as complex old institutions that fail to see their added value. Both parliaments and CSOs play a critical role representing citizens. Stronger partnerships between them can strengthen citizen engagement by better channelling the concerns, opinions and preferences of citizen-voters in political processes and decision-making.
Georgia and Ukraine adopted ambitious OGP open parliament plans, which seek to institutionalize the relationship between parliament and CSOs and strengthen citizen participation in parliament. Other countries, like Costa Rica and Tunisia, have been developing open parliament commitments and are working on establishing close ties between parliamentarians from across the political spectrum and civil society.
As OGP continues to grow in size and deepen engagement with parliaments, this workshop will consider how to support institutionalised working relationships between CSOs and parliaments in the development of open parliament action plans. The roundtable will provide first-hand country experience, sharing success stories and innovative practices from parliaments around the world. In doing so, it hopes to inspire other parliaments and civil society members to take the challenges and opportunities of open parliament practices forward, and champion reform within open parliament action plans in their country.
The roundtable will focus on the relationship between civil society and parliaments in developing strong commitments and robust open parliament plans.
The moderator will centre the discussion on the following two questions:
- How to ensure strong civil society interest and involvement from the outset of the development of an open parliament plan right through to its implementation? In particular, are there any tips for the parliament on how to identify relevant CSOs, how to inform them on time, how to follow up on their inputs etc.? And does enshrining commitments related participation of civil society in open parliament action plans lead to greater engagement?
- What are the lessons learned from engaging cross-party members of parliament in developing an open parliament plan?
The roundtable will address these two questions by looking at concrete examples from countries in Eastern Europe, the Arab region and Latin America. These country cases have not been exposed to the open parliament community before and represent recent examples of open parliament reforms within OGP.
The speakers of the roundtable will be comprised of:
1. Hon. Djamila Ksiksi , member of National Assembly of Tunisia and member of Bureau, in charge of the relationship with civil society and citizens (Tunisia): Ms Ksiksi will analyse how to galvanize support from members of parliament across different parties to get support from all sides of the political spectrum and thus ensure success in open parliament reforms.
2. Andres Araya, Asociación Costa Rica Íntegra (Costa Rica): Asociación Costa Rica Íntegra is a civil society organization leading the fight against corruption and for political transparency in Costa Rica. Andres will discuss how CSOs and MPs can work together to push for open parliament commitments.
3. Nadia Babynska, OPORA (Ukraine): The Civil Network “OPORA” is a non-governmental, non-political and financially independent nationwide network of public activists which has been instrumental in developing the open parliament plan in Ukraine. Nadia will give the civil society perspective on the lessons learned from developing the open parliament action plan. She will also explain the relationship with the parliament in implementing the commitments, including through quarterly meetings with the parliamentary administration (commitment 3.3. of the Open Parliament Action Plan).
4. Hon. Tamar Chugoshvili, Member of Parliament (Georgia) will explain the partnership between the Parliament and CSOs and the principles of the Inter-Factional Group (established by decree 19/3 of 12/02/2015), the creation of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance (commitment 4.1. of the Open Parliament Action Plan).
Source: Open Government Parnership