Ukrainian parliament commits to legislative openness

Tbilisi, 14-15 September – Ukrainian delegates participated in the Open Government Partnership's Legislative Openness Working Group's conference within the scopes of the Global Legislative Openness Week.

12002595 962448740478903 3847427126333266022 oUkrainian MP Svitlana Zalishchuk, who has been a renowned civic activist, co-founding such civic movements as Chesno and Stop Censorship! as well as co-launching the Reanimation Package of Reforms, was among the main speakers at the Legislative Openness, Technology, and Democracy session.
She elaborated on three main points. First, she emphasized that digital technologies change the context, in which our parliaments and governments work. A citizen with one Facebook post may trigger the massive campaign for openness, which political elite should be responsive to. Second, she stressed that digital technologies change the roles: from vertical societies with power on the top to horizontal societies, where openness is not just a goal, but already a condition for societal transformations. And finally, she underlined that digital technologies change the definitions. In addition to three traditional powers in the state, media is a fourth one and the fifth power is a society armed with innovative technologies.
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"2015 (24th year of independent Ukraine) is the first year when all members of the Parliament disclosed their income statements. Of course, it happened because of the political will of the new parliamentarians elected after the Euromaidan in Ukraine. But this political will was a result of the public demand, strongly empowered by new media," Ms. Zalishchuk underlined. "During the last year, the openness of Ukrainian parliament under the new leadership grew dramatically. In particular, because of digitalization of the MPs work."
Now, MPs are required to make public disclosure statements, as well as publish monthly a list of their assistants, according to the order of Verkhovna Rada Chairperson Volodymyr Groisman. In addition, each Parliamentary Committee has to publish minutes and transcript of each meeting on the Parliament's website.
12002241 10153614513779483 4212786179057759460 nSuch developments in Ukraine go in line with the global movement for openness for which the Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) is a part. It is the second annual week of events organized by members of the legislative openness community and Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) working to advance legislative openness, increased dialogue and information sharing among parliaments and civil society groups around the world.
GLOW concluded on the United Nation's International Day of Democracy with the second annual global legislative openness conference, organized by diverse stakeholders – the Parliament of Georgia, the Congress of Chile, National Democratic Institute (NDI), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), US Agency for International Development (USAID), European Union (EU), GIZ, Transparency International, and others.
The conference, titled Committing to Openness: Parliamentary Action Plans, Standards, and Tools, focused on strategies for advancing parliamentary openness, including developing action plans, endorsing international standards, and developing new technologies. It was aimed at discussing the role of digital technologies for democracy promotion and legislative openness, presenting the cases of parliamentary openness across Europe, and improving the transparent performance of parliaments by advocating for the commitment to the principles of Declaration on Parliamentary Openness.
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More than 70 governmental, parliamentary and civic leaders from up to 32 countries attended the conference. They were able to share their experiences about elaboration of the legislative openness and cooperation with the private sector, and to discuss development of international standards for parliamentary ethics and support of civic engagement in legislative processes.
Georgia was hosting this event for a reason. It made significant progress in legislative openness by endorsing the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness this year. During the conference, Georgia presented the recently adopted Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016, developed as a result of collaboration between the inter-factional parliamentary group, civil society, and international organizations. Georgia has a very real chance to move to the forefront of parliamentary transparency in a global setting, inspiring other countries, including Ukraine, to follow suit.
11947983 960745030649274 4399430867457180432 oThe two-day working meeting also featured sessions on the current state of parliamentary openness initiatives in different countries; strengthening openness by endorsing standards, developing plans, and collaborating with civil society; building international standards on parliamentary ethics; developing legislative openness tools; and developing strong legislative openness action plans.
At the end of the conference, participants previewed the upcoming OGP Global Summit in Mexico, which will take place on 27-29 October and will include a program track on legislative openness. Conference attendees also had a chance to discuss the future direction of the Working Group, the launch of the Open Parliament Network, and opportunities to engage going forward.