November 12, 2013
This post was co-written by Peter Veit of the World Resources Institute and Gilbert Sendugwa, Coordinator and Head of Secretariat for the Africa Freedom of Information Centre.
Open government requires an open executive branch, an open legislature, and an open judiciary. Historically, however, global attention to government transparency and access to information has focused on the executive branch.
But this may finally be changing. In April of this year, 38 civil society organizations from around the world convened in Washington, D.C. and agreed to work together to advance open parliaments. In September, more than 90 civil society organizations from more than 60 countries launched the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness in Rome.
Civil society attention on lawmakers and legislatures is critically important—especially in Africa, where parliaments have long worked behind closed doors (most legislatures on the continent are parliaments). Transparency is needed for civil society to hold legislators accountable for their decisions and actions, and to ensure they are responsive to the needs and concerns of their constituents.