Last month, the Open Government Partnership (OGP)’s Legislative Openness Working Group issued an open call to parliaments and civil society organizations around the world: show support for open lawmaking, and help advance the cause. Thanks to “an incredibly strong network of national advocates,” the response to the first-ever Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW) was tremendous, with 45 activities organized in 33 countries. See images, videos and stories from the week at openparl2014.org.
Clockwise from top: Brazil’s GLOW Hack Weekend; the OGP Legislative Openness Working Group’s global meeting in Chile; Mexico’s Open Parliament Alliance logo; and Open Australia’s Hackfest: GLOW Edition.
The GLOW campaign was anchored by two international OGP Working Group meetings aimed at expanding civic engagement and institutionalizing the open parliament agenda — in other words, making sure that citizens can actively participate in decisions that affect them, and making sure that the Open Government Partnership has reform mechanisms and resources that are for and by legislatures. In between these two meetings (a regional meeting hosted by the Parliament of Montenegro and a global meeting held by the Congress of Chile, a co-anchor of the OGP Working Group) a number of independent GLOW events brought legislators and civil society organizations together to discuss opening parliamentary processes and information — particularly open data.
Here are just some of the GLOW activities held between Sept. 15 and 25:
- The Chamber of Deputies of Brazil hosted a GLOW Hack Weekend to connect software programmers with policy experts;
- Mexican officials formally launched the Open Parliament Alliance, an institutional platform for coordinating openness efforts across the executive, legislature and civil society;
- The Sunlight Foundation led a group of more than 100 civil society organizations around the world in delivering an open-data advocacy letter to parliaments;
- The Al Hayat Center for Civil Society Development met with the Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament, to advocate for open legislative data, and also organized a series of constituent meetings with members of parliament;
- In the UK, the Digital Society Network at the University of Sheffield and the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy hosted a debate on Exploring New Ways of Reconnecting Parliament and Citizens;
- In Israel, the Knesset collaborated with civil society organization Hasadna to organize a workshop on open legislative data;
- In Australia, civic hackers explored political donation data, previewed an upcoming vote tracker project and taught web scraping during the Open Australia Foundation’s Hackfest: GLOW Edition. Staff from the Federal Parliamentary Library were in attendance, marking the first time that parliamentary staff had attended a hackathon in official capacity;
- The Open Myanmar Initiative hosted an “Open Parliament Event Myanmar” with lectures by former and incumbent Members of Parliament, discussions with journalists, researchers and data experts, and an exhibition of parliamentary information and processes;
- Open Knowledge Burkina Faso held an event on “Open Parliament to Reinforce Citizen Participation” with the National Assembly;
- A group of four civil society organizations in Liberia — IREDD, NAYMOTE, CEMEPS and LISGISPOL — submitted the Open Your Legislature letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Claims and Petitions, and organized a lecture series on legislative openness;
- Open Knowledge Denmark organized a workshop to explore parliamentary data, one day after release of the Folketinget API;
- Otvoreni Parlament held “Yes for Open Parliament” street actions in six cities in Serbia;
- In Guatemala, members of congress and experts from civil society met via Google Hangout with Mexican open-data experts to discuss implementing an open-government agenda;
- Members of Parliament from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya and Mongolia discussed legislative openness and citizen engagement in Washington, DC as part of a House Democracy Partnership exchange program;
- Four “Tweet Talks” convened experts on specific areas of legislative openness — money in politics, opening municipal council data, visualizing parliamentary data and making actionable openness commitments — for one-hour conversations on Twitter; and
- Kosovo’s Assembly held an “Open Doors Day” as part of its International Day of Democracy celebration.
In addition, parliamentary monitoring research products were released during and co-branded with GLOW, including the Latin American Network on Legislative Transparency’s Second Index on Legislative Transparency, which compares open government progress in 11 Latin American countries, and the Parliamentary Monitoring Group’s infographic benchmarking the South African Parliament’s progress against the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness.
The GLOW campaign was also picked up by diverse supporters on Twitter, serving as a touchpoint for government reformers, civil society groups, open data evangelists and journalists working on transparency and accountability issues or political reform broadly. “Global Legislative Openness Week” was mentioned on at least 54 independent blogs and websites, and the #OpenParl2014 hashtag was used over 3,600 times on Twitter. See some of the tweets from GLOW’s launch here.
GLOW has demonstrated the enormous potential for networked civil society activists to unite behind a shared value, to create and disseminate valuable advocacy materials, and to drive an agenda forward — even when working in dozens of different languages, cultures and political contexts. While preparing its 2015 work plan, OGP’s Legislative Openness Working Group will be surveying GLOW event organizers and participants to collect feedback on the campaign. The working group will also be seeking ways to support follow-up activities that deepen national or sub-national commitments, forge peer-to-peer mentoring relationships and build on the momentum from GLOW.
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