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Declaration on Parliamentary Openness [Draft Commentary]

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Title II - Promoting a Culture of Openness

Sec. 8. Sharing Good Practice

Parliament shall actively participate in international and regional exchanges of good practice with other parliaments and with civil society organizations to increase the openness and transparency of parliamentary information, improve the use of information and communication technology, and strengthen adherence to democratic principles.

Parliaments, along with other democratic institutions, must continually strive to improve their functioning in order to effectively serve the needs and interests of citizens. COPA affirms the need for parliamentarians to “take part in opportunities to share their experiences with Members of other parliaments,” be “prepared to offer the best possible technical assistance to other parliaments,” and “have the right to benefit from technical assistance.”[1] Opportunities for inter-parliamentary engagement are provided through a number of international and regional parliamentary associations, including many that have developed democratic benchmarks and standards referenced herein.

The importance of sharing good practice is particularly acute with respect to information and communication technologies, which continue to evolve rapidly and have tremendous potential for improving parliamentary openness and efficiency, if used effectively. The World e-Parliaments 2010 report identifies the goal that parliaments should, “Foster the regular exchange of information, experiences, and practices among parliaments at the regional and global level.”[2] In furtherance of this goal, the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament recently convened a working group of parliaments to serve as a peer support group for the use of structured XML, a format for open data that has the potential to improve parliamentary efficiency, simplify the use of parliamentary information by parliamentary actors and citizens, and improve comparison and use of parliamentary information across parliaments and with governments. Africa has regionally established the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network in 2008, a collaboration of 36 national parliaments on the continent dedicated to “support the work of African assemblies by establishing mechanisms and procedures for exchanging information and experience in areas of common interest.”[3] In 2009, a formal network with similar goals was established in Latin America and the Caribbean with the help of the Global Center for ICT in Parliament, focusing specifically on ICT.[4] Members of the European Union organized the IPEX (InterParliamentary EU information eXchange) in 2000, which in 2011 listed as one of its primary goals, “to continue the exchange of information and practices on the use of common standards among the EU.”

Individual parliaments often take measures to highlight their own work with multilateral bodies; for example, the Senate of Pakistan’s website includes a section on its relations with organizations like the IPU, CPA, and parliamentary conferences.[5] Many parliaments, including the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and the National Council of the Slovak Republic, have similar webpages, detailing its participation in international conferences.[6] 


[1] COPA, The Contributions of Parliaments to Democracy: Benchmarks for the Parliaments of the Americas, §2.7.1.2, §2.7.1.4, and §2.7.4.2.

[2] Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, World e-Parliament Report 2010, IPU-UNDESA, p. 187. Available at: http://www.ictparliament.org/wepr2010. Accessed: 6/22/2012.

[3] Ibid., p. 149

[4] Ibid., p. 151

[5] Website of the Senate of Pakistan, Inter Parliament Activity. http://www.senate.gov.pk/ShowCategories.asp?GroupCode=13. Accessed 6/14/2012.

[6] Website of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, Inter-Parliamentary Conferences. http://korea.assembly.go.kr/mem/mem_08.jsp. Accessed 6/14/2012. Website of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, Interparliamentary Cooperation. http://www.nrsr.sk/web/default.aspx?sid=eu/medziparlamentna_spolupraca. Accessed 6/14/2012.