Few things I got at the Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kiev

29 May 2017

How to build citizen’s trust in parliaments through openness and engagement?

19-20 May, in Kiev, Ukraine took place the International conference on Global Legislative openness. A very intense agenda full of hard discussions, updates and cutting edge ideas from all over the globe. Here below, in no order, few of my personal takeaways.

  • As sun is the best disinfector parliaments need to be open, at the end of the day in Ancient Greece, where the word democracy was invented, parliaments were in open air, literally!
  • Parliaments, nowadays, are more open than ever, yet, at the same time, the trust towards them is lower than ever. How to interpret this apparent contradiction? Arguably, this phenomenon doesn’t mean that people believe less in democracy but rather that they believe more in it and have higher expectations.
  • Parliaments need to reflect all parts of the population, none excluded. Youth should not be represented but presented. Youth is not the future but the present as well!
  • Gender representation is a milestone for parliamentary development. No woman… yes cry!
  • Freedom of information is the mother of all rights, there is nothing as “raw data” that can be misunderstood and should not be published. Let the people cook them up for you!
  • The road to democracy is not a smooth one, the Parliament is “a place of contest”, confrontations shall not be avoided but used for further progress.
  • The wider the gap there is between political society and civil society the more the State is unstable and fragile. Both sides should give their best to mind the gap between them.
  • Admission of failure by the parliaments is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength which increases the trust from the citizens.
  • Fake news shall be fought on time and better with a touch of sense of humor.
  • All sustainable development goals are important; however, SDG 16 is a very important one as it entails working with institutions. Parliaments, ultimately, are a necessary tool for implementing all the goals. Nothing is possible without people yet nothing is lasting without institutions.

UNDP globally, in the last five years has assisted about one third of Parliaments around the world and has a great amount of experience in the sector.

Recently UNDP Kyrgyz Republic, with the support of the Swiss Development cooperation, has started a project called “Strong and Inclusive Parliamentary Democracy”. Its aim, over the next ten years, is to reinforce the parliamentary democracy system of the Country stemming from the 2010 constitution by enabling the Parliament to improve oversight of the executive and provide an opportunity for citizens to be included in the process of decision-and policy-making. At the same time, it aims to empower civil society actors for more effective monitoring and influencing the performance of parliamentary and state accountability institutions, allowing citizens to hold the Parliament and government accountable and benefit from a more accessible, effective and responsive government.

Lord Francis Maude talks about how transparency and Open Data can build trust between the governments and people

Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Adviser on Sustainable Development Goal 16, UNDP Kyrgyz Republic (lucio.sarandrea@undp.org)