Politics For the People – the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness

Politics For the People – the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness

With the help of the information age, Democracy is being “re-imagined” and there are several organizations outside of parliaments trying to open up this information for the people. Andrew Mandelbaum, of the National Democratic Institute, describes a Parliamentary Monitoring Organization (PMO) as “organizations that are involved in monitoring and evaluating parliaments, helping to engage citizens in the legislative process, and support the democratic strengthening of parliaments”. More than 190 PMO’s exist around the world but up until lately the collaboration and exchange of ideas between them has been very limited.

The creation of a normative framework, known as the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness, brought together PMO’s from more than 38 countries in discussing how it should be formed. The declaration was officially launched on the International Day of Democracy in 2012 (September 15). Today the declaration has more than 120 PMO supporters in 73 countries. It is available in 14 languages and hopefully a few more soon with your help.

The declaration has four parts:

  1. creating a culture in society were openness and citizen engagement are respected and encouraged
  2. making more information available
  3. using different channels for broadcasting parliamentary information
  4. open data standards

The existence of these four parts helps a parliament identify where they are weak and put their focus on adjusting that part. A normative framework is a start to creating suggestions forming and promoting advocacy around the world (some of the examples can be seen in the time-line below). It has also been proven to increase the collaboration between different PMO’s across the world.

With the help of the declaration it has been easier to discuss and introduce new standards into the parliamentary debates when showing that many of the issues proposed have been suggested and approved in other countries. Melissa, from ‘Fundar‘ in Mexico, has found she gets more response from the parliament when she encourages them, “Let’s try to do like Brazil!”, instead of their previous strategy of trying to shame them by rankings.

A time-line of events related to the declaration of parliamentary openness:

Featured image: CC-BY-SA – opensource.com