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Declaration on Parliamentary Openness [Draft Commentary]

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Executive Summary

This Declaration on Parliamentary Openness is a call to national parliaments by civil society parliamentary monitoring organizations (PMOs) for an increased commitment to openness and to citizen engagement in parliamentary work. PMOs are increasingly recognized for playing important roles in helping make parliamentary information more accessible to citizens, strengthening the capacity of citizens to participate in parliamentary processes, and improving parliamentary accountability. While PMOs have a strong interest in greater access to governmental and parliamentary information, they also recognize the need for increased collaborative dialogue with the world’s parliaments on issues of parliamentary openness and reform, so that increased government and parliamentary openness results in greater citizen engagement, more responsive representative institutions and, ultimately, a more democratic society. The Declaration, which draws on a variety of background documents endorsed by the international parliamentary community, was reviewed and discussed at a conference of PMO leaders that was co-hosted by the National Democratic Institute, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Latin American Legislative Transparency Network in Washington, D.C. The conference took place from April 30 to May 2, 2012 with support from the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Embassy of Mexico in the United States. The World Bank Institute also partnered in the conference and co-hosted a roundtable at its conclusion. An updated version of the Declaration reflecting the prevailing consensus among conference participants is being made available for comment to the broader PMO community from June 11 – July 31, 2012. Feedback will then be incorporated into a final version that will be launched on the International Day of Democracy, September 15, 2012.

  1. TITLE I - Preamble
    1. Sec. 0. Preamble
  2. TITLE II - Promoting a Culture of Openness
    1. Sec. 1. Public Ownership of Parliamentary Information
    2. Sec. 2. Promoting a Culture of Openness through Legislation
    3. Sec. 3. Promoting a Culture of Openness through Oversight
    4. Sec. 4. Promoting Civic Education
    5. Sec. 5. Encouraging Citizen Participation
    6. Sec. 6. Encouraging a Vibrant Civil Society
    7. Sec. 7. Enabling Effective Parliamentary Monitoring
    8. Sec. 8. Sharing Good Practice
    9. Sec. 9. Ensuring Legal Recourse
    10. Sec. 10. Providing Complete Information
    11. Sec. 11. Providing Information in a Timely Manner
    12. Sec. 12. Ensuring the Accuracy of Information
  3. TITLE III - Making Parliamentary Information Transparent
    1. Sec. 13. Adopting Policies on Parliamentary Transparency
    2. Sec. 14. Providing Information on Roles and Functions
    3. Sec. 15. Providing Information on Members of Parliament
    4. Sec. 16. Providing Information on Parliamentary Staff and Parliamentary Administration
    5. Sec. 17. Informing Citizens regarding the Parliamentary Agenda
    6. Sec. 18. Informing and Engaging Citizens on Draft Legislation and Preparatory Analysis
    7. Sec. 19. Publishing Records of Committee Proceedings
    8. Sec. 20. Recording Parliamentary Votes
    9. Sec. 21. Publishing a Hansard, Transcripts, or Records of Plenary Proceedings
    10. Sec. 22. Publishing Reports Created by or Provided to Parliament
    11. Sec. 23. Providing Budget Information
    12. Sec. 24. Disclosing Assets and Ensuring the Integrity of Members
    13. Sec. 25. Disclosing Information on Conflicts of Interest and Ethical Conduct
    14. Sec. 26. Providing Access to Historical Information
  4. TITLE IV - Making Parliamentary Information Easily Accessible
    1. Sec. 27. Ensuring Accessibility of Parliament through Multiple Channels
    2. Sec. 28. Ensuring Physical Access to Parliament
    3. Sec. 29. Guaranteeing Access by the Media
    4. Sec. 30. Providing Live and On-Demand Broadcasts and Streaming
    5. Sec. 31. Guaranteeing Accessibility throughout the Country
    6. Sec. 32. Using Plain Language
    7. Sec. 33. Using Multiple National or Working Languages
    8. Sec. 34. Ensuring Free Access
  5. TITLE V - Enabling Electronic Access and Analysis of Parliamentary Information
    1. Sec. 35. Maintaining Parliamentary Websites
    2. Sec. 36. Providing Information in Open and Structured Formats
    3. Sec. 37. Mitigating Technological Barriers
    4. Sec. 38. Guaranteeing Citizen Privacy
    5. Sec. 39. Releasing Information in Non-Proprietary Formats
    6. Sec. 40. Allowing Downloadability for Reuse
    7. Sec. 41. Facilitating Easy and Stable Mechanisms for Finding Information
    8. Sec. 42. Hyperlinking Related Information
    9. Sec. 43. Enabling Use of Alert Services
    10. Sec. 44. Facilitating Two-Way Communication