May 7, 2021
ParlAmericas, the Transparency and Access to Information Network (RTA), the European Union's EUROsociAL+ programme and the Organisation of American States (OAS) hold the webinar Model Inter-American Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information for Parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean
In the context of this pandemic, transparency and access to information are crucial to building bridges between the government and citizens to address these challenges through a greater culture of accountability and citizen participation. These issues are especially relevant in the parliamentary sphere because of its proximity to the problems and needs of citizens, who also demand a greater role in decision-making and in the construction of their own future.
That is why, following the approval by the OAS Annual Assembly of the Inter-American Model Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information in October 2020, it is important to share its nature and scope with parliamentarians and parliamentary staff of the Americas and the Caribbean, international specialists, and transparency enforcement bodies, and to create new spaces for cooperation.
To contribute to this, the parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean, ParlAmericas, the Transparency and Access to Information Network (RTA), the European Union's EUROsociAL+ programme and the Organisation of American States (OAS) will hold the webinar "Inter-American Model Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information for the Parliaments of the Americas and the Caribbean."
The event will include a presentation on the Inter-American Model Law 2.0 on Access to Public Information, which is intended to serve as a hemispheric reference to further advance in strengthening standards of transparency and access to information for the benefit of citizens in the region. The panel Reflections on national experiences will be moderated by the expert María José Méndez, EUROsociAL+ consultant, and will include the participation of Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner of Canada; Gloria de la Fuente, President of the Council for Transparency of Chile; and Senator Ranard Eric Henfield of The Bahamas, Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for the Caribbean. The panel will promote the exchange of good legislative practices for transparency and access to information, aspects that are part of the Legislative Transparency Toolkit, developed by ParlAmericas, EUROsociAL+, and the RTA.
On this toolkit, Felice Zaccheo, Head of Unit for Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and Regional Operations, DG International Partnerships of the European Commission, pointed out that it is a tool that contains numerous contributions from European legislatures, including the European Parliament, the Parliaments of Estonia, the United Kingdom, Georgia, Italy, Spain, France and Norway, and "valuable contributions from legislatures in Latin America and other regions of the world, which makes it a truly global effort for knowledge management and the exchange of best practices."
Senator Bertha Alicia Caraveo Camarena (Mexico), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for North America, stressed that "for ParlAmericas, transparency and access to information are central pillars of an open parliament, which is why these issues are at the heart of our institutional agenda. Offering this type of informed dialogue to parliamentarians from the Americas and the Caribbean, in which they can familiarise themselves with the Model Law and strengthen the collaboration with the enforcement bodies on access to information issues, is fundamental.”
Gabriel Delpiazzo Antón, president of the RTA, said that "with more transparent parliaments, greater citizen participation is achieved and trust is restored for a more democratic society."
Member of Parliament Ana Lucia Delgado (Costa Rica), Vice President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for Central America explained that "the adoption or updating of laws on access to public information is a task that cannot be postponed as it responds to our commitments to transparency and openness. Having first-hand knowledge of the proposals and standards developed by the OAS is an excellent opportunity for legislators in the Americas and the Caribbean to articulate our work on these issues.”
You can find the agenda of the webinar in this link.
April 16, 2021
On April 19, ParlAmericas will host the Working Meeting of Caribbean Presiding Officers on Open Parliament which will bring together parliamentarians and clerks from 8 countries in the Caribbean to identify key priorities and corresponding challenges for openness reforms in accordance with the Road Map towards Legislative Openness, which is currently being updated through a collaborative process. It will aim to contribute to the development of a strategy to support the implementation of these legislative openness priorities by member parliaments in the Caribbean.
The Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George (Trinidad and Tobago), Speaker of the House of Representatives and Vice-President of ParlAmericas noted that “as parliamentarians, our institutions are at the core of democratic systems, and ensuring that we are open to our citizens is critical to building trust in public institutions and contributing to public policies and services that benefit all sectors of our populations. This is even more important in crisis situations like the pandemic we face today, and the increasing amount of disasters caused by natural hazards that affect our countries, which require swift and efficient government action that can only take place when the public has a certain level of trust in its institutions.”
“This is why it is so critical for our parliaments to prioritize initiatives that strengthen the openness of democratic institutions by implementing mechanisms (or reinforcing the mechanisms we have in place) to ensure transparency and access to public information, the accountability of democratic institutions, the participation of citizens in legislative decision-making, and a culture of ethical behaviour in our national legislatures. This meeting will allow us to identify common priorities, regional successes and concerns and then contribute to a joint work plan to advance the aforementioned initiatives across all of our parliaments,” added Senator, the Honourable Ranard Eric Henfield (The Bahamas), Vice-President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network for the Caribbean.
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
April 9, 2021
ParlAmericas expresses its solidarity with the people and government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for the destruction caused by the recent eruption of the La Soufrière volcano, and especially with the surrounding communities affected by this event.
On behalf of ParlAmericas we wish to convey our deep regret concerning the situation that has transpired and our hope that the people who live in areas around the volcano can find refuge through the evacuation procedures adopted by the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the regional support operations that are responding and helping to reduce the damages that this natural hazard may cause. ParlAmericas reaffirms its commitment to measures that favour the management of disaster risk and call for cooperation to address this situation.
March 31, 2021
ParlAmericas celebrated the 3rd Meeting of the Parliamentary Staff Network on Open Parliament, which was hosted by the Parliament of Canada on March 22. It brought together parliamentary staff from 19 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean along with subject matter experts to exchange experiences and good practices on technological innovation.
Senator Silvia Giacoppo (Argentina), ParlAmericas Board Member, opened the meeting indicating that “in the path to legislative openness, it is imperative we strengthen the efforts to include innovative technological tools that improve our legislative work as well as our effort to better represent citizens.” In his welcome remarks, Mr. Blair Armitage (Canada), Clerk Assistant of the Senate Committees, added that “the Open Parliament Network and ParlAmericas are essential spaces for building mutual understanding and cooperation not only within the region itself, but between the Americas and the Caribbean and other countries around the world.”
The meeting provided opportunities for parliamentary staff to engage in a dialogue with peers and experts around a series of relevant topics through working groups focused on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, maximizing resources, and virtual parliamentary sessions. It also included a Panel on Technological Innovation in Parliaments with Dr. Tiago Peixoto, Senior Public Sector Specialist from the Governance Global Practice at the World Bank; Ms. María Paz Hermosilla, Director of the Public Innovation Lab (GobLab), from the School of Governance at the University Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile; Mr. Diego Subero, Consultant in the Cybersecurity Program from the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism at the Organization of American States; and Mr. Chris Beall, Policy Lead in the Governance Platform at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. The panel explored strategies to promote technological innovation, for example through collective and artificial intelligence, and strengthen cybersecurity, while continuing to support openness and counter disinformation.
To conclude the meeting, Luis Rojas (Chile), Deputy Secretary General of the Chamber of Deputies, noted the importance and value of these exchanges to improve parliaments’ efficiency, recognizing that “our legislatures have been working exhaustively to incorporate technological tools in parliamentary work, and this is in great part thanks to the wonderful work that parliamentary staff like yourselves do everyday.”
All meeting materials, including panelist presentations can be accessed on the ParlAmericas website. A final report outlining the discussions held within the various working groups will be published in the coming weeks.
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
March 31, 2021
ParlAmericas celebrated the 5th Gathering of its Open Parliament Network entitled “Countering Disinformation to Promote Responsible Public Discourse”, which was hosted by the Parliament of Canada. The gathering brought together parliamentarians from 26 countries, alongside parliamentary staff, subject-matter experts, and representatives of civil society organisations and youth organisations from across the hemisphere for a working session in English-French on March 15, and in Spanish-Portuguese on March 19, as well as a closing plenary session on March 26.
The Honourable Anthony Rota (Canada), Speaker of the House of Commons, in his opening remarks noted that “the topic of the 5th Gathering of ParlAmericas’ Open Parliament Network could not be more timely or relevant. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has relied on online resources to remain informed about the virus and the pandemic (…) Disinformation during a global pandemic can endanger public health and safety, especially if people believe false prevention measures or treatments, or if their trust in health services and public institutions is undermined.”
In addition, the Honourable Pierrette Ringuette (Canada), Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate, stressed that “disinformation campaigns during an election can have a range of harmful impacts. For example, the disinformation spread through such concerted campaigns can obscure legitimate information for voters, polarize social discourse, and weaken confidence in the electoral process.”
From her perspective, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas, contributed that “we decided to dedicate this 5th Gathering of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network to analyse the phenomenon of disinformation and its different effects, recognising that the globalised and multifaceted nature of this problem requires a coordinated and collaborative approach.”
Through these sessions, participants engaged in dialogues around the harmful effects of disinformation and computational propaganda, including the proliferation of hate speech, undue interference in electoral processes, limits to political participation, delegitimization of government actions and campaigns, and the deterioration of democratic dialogue, which threatens peace and security. These dialogues were supported by experts including Professor Taylor Owen, Beaverbrook Chair in Media Ethics and Communications of the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University; Professor Marco Aurelio Ruediger, Director of Public Policy Analysis at Fundación Getúlio Vargas; Nazima Raghubir, First Vice-President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers; Laura Zommer, Executive Director at Chequeado; Pedro Vaca Villarreal, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Sandra Pepera, Daniel Arnaudo and Victoria Welborn, of the National Democratic Institute; Micaela Mantegna, Professor at Universidad de San Andres and Research Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center in Harvard University; Amalia Toledo, Consultant on Gender and Technology; and Professor Elena Gil González, Professor at Instituto de Empresa Law School.
It also included a high-level panel moderated by Senator, the Honourable Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas) and featuring Catalina Botero Marino, Member of the Facebook Oversight Board; Lucina Di Meco, Gender Equality Expert and Co-founder of #ShePersisted Global; and Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Canada), Member of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation, which fostered a proactive discussion around the most pernicious effects of disinformation, including gender-based violence, and presented innovative initiatives to address this issue, such as Facebook’s Oversight Board and the International Grand Committee on Disinformation.
The Gathering concluded with reports from parliamentary delegations on the progress achieved to implement the commitments presented at the previous Gathering which have been published on ParlAmericas’ Open Parliament Commitment Tool, as well as present new commitments that they intend to implement over the next year. A final declaration stressing parliamentary commitments to address disinformation in the hemisphere was adopted and the results for the election of the OPN Executive committee were announced.
In conclusion, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Javier Macaya (Chile), President-elect of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, commented that “I am certain that we are leaving this meeting with a better understanding of a complex contemporary phenomena, with a renewed commitment to democratic principles of transparency, freedom and inclusion, and with better tools to support our ongoing efforts to strengthen governance and tackle this issue.”
All meeting materials, including panellist presentations can be accessed on the ParlAmericas website. A final report outlining the discussions held within the various working sessions will be published in the coming weeks.
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
March 25, 2021
ParlAmericas officially began the celebration of its 20th anniversary last week in the framework of the 5th Gathering of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network. Twenty years ago this month, in March 2001, the Parliament of Canada hosted the meeting at which the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA; as ParlAmericas was known until 2011) was formally created by parliamentarians from across the Americas and the Caribbean to serve as a space for inter-parliamentary exchange and cooperation on issues of hemispheric concern.
“It was always a concept of mine and colleagues of mine that [Canada] was not sufficiently active in the Americas and we were becoming more and more active in what we called parliamentary diplomacy … and from there it was natural that we should be active in trying to establish a forum in the Americas that Canada could participate in – and, as it would turn out, provide the leadership role in forming – an organization that would bring parliamentarians together and allow parliamentary diplomacy to take place with the Americas and with the Caribbean, thus enhancing our relationship in the Americas,” said the inaugural President of FIPA the Honourable Bill Graham, former Canadian parliamentarian and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons in 2001, on the impetus for Canada’s leading role in establishing FIPA.
In commemoration of this landmark occasion, and as a tribute to its role in ParlAmericas’ founding, the Parliament of Canada is hosting the OPN Gathering, which is taking place virtually throughout the month of March. The Honourable Anthony Rota (Canada), Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable George Furey (Canada), Speaker of the Senate, along with members of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas shared video messages that commenced the anniversary celebrations and invited parliamentary participation in the Gathering. ParlAmericas also premiered a digital timeline at the opening sessions of the Gathering, which details significant milestones in the institution’s history.
Throughout its 20 years, ParlAmericas has significantly expanded its role in the region, its network of partnerships and collaborations, and the ways in which it continues to uphold its founding mission of facilitating inter-parliamentary exchange on hemispheric priorities. The institution develops tailored resources, provides technical assistance, and coordinates activities related to its three key program pillars: gender equality, open parliament, and climate change. ParlAmericas’ work remains governed by and for parliamentarians, with members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of each programmatic pillar elected in representation of each sub-region of the hemisphere.
Reflecting on the institution’s growth, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas, shared the following message: “ParlAmericas has become one of the foremost spaces for parliamentary diplomacy in our hemisphere, allowing for rich dialogue and the sharing of parliamentary good practices on themes that are crucial to sustainable development, equal growth, and good governance in the Americas and the Caribbean. This dynamic working space provides access to expertise and resources that support all parliamentarians and legislatures in successfully carrying out our roles in achieving each of these objectives. It is an honour to be part of this organization and I extend my congratulations to all who have contributed to ParlAmericas’ past and future success.”
The celebration of ParlAmericas’ 20th anniversary will continue throughout this year, in alignment with each of the organization’s major hemispheric gatherings. This will include the launch of a series of video interviews with leaders and partners who have contributed to ParlAmericas’ work throughout the last two decades.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, and to follow the rest of our 20th anniversary celebrations, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
March 25, 2021
On March 25, within the framework of the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership and the Summits of the Americas Secretariat of the OAS, with the support of the Government of Canada, are organizing the virtual side-event “Accelerating efforts towards the achievement of SDG 5.5 from the Americas” to inspire commitments and concrete actions in support of women’s leadership throughout the region.
During this session, the Inter-American Award for Good Practices in Women’s Leadership will be launched, seeking to recognize, highlight, and amplify public policies as well as initiatives from the private sector and civil society that promote increased representation of women in leadership positions.
The event will include welcoming remarks from the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada), a keynote presentation by Vice-President Epsy Campbell (Costa Rica), and a dialogue among government officials, private sector representatives, and civil society organizations who will discuss their work to promote women’s leadership across different sectors and areas of power and decision-making.
This high-level discussion will also include the participation of the Honorable Valerie Woods (Belize), Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator Martha L. Micher (Mexico); and Member of Congress Sonia M. Gutierrez (Guatemala). The parliamentarians and other panellists will present on their countries’ advances in terms of women’s political leadership, and they will offer reflections on the challenges the region faces towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5.5 on ensuring women’s full and effective leadership in political, economic, and public decision-making.
ParlAmericas is a founding member of the Inter-American Task Force on Women’s Leadership.
For more information about the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
March 17, 2021
On March 17, 2021, Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas, participated as a panellist in the fourth meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). She joined specialists, government officials, and representatives of civil society to share their experiences in a round table discussion on the topic of “Health and the economy – a false dichotomy?”.
The objective of the panel was to reflect on the responses of the region’s countries to the COVID-19 pandemic, the strengthening of health systems and emergency social protection programs, and the sustainability of these measures in a context of limited fiscal space and rising debt in the region, as well as difficulties in procuring, distributing and administering vaccines.
The dialogue highlighted various perspectives including the importance of ensuring the health of society as the basis for a strong economy and the critical role that interregional cooperation plays in achieving a fair distribution of vaccines. The panellists also commented on the urgency of addressing climate change, loss of biodiversity, and environmental degradation to prevent the appearance or reappearance of zoonotic diseases and reduce their prevalence and intensity, in order to avert a major crisis through a green and inclusive economic recovery. Finally, participants commented on the need to build resilience and adequately prepare for a future pandemic, by installing anticipatory governance.
In her remarks, Senator Ovelar underscored that “the role of the legislative powers in this context of a health, economic and social crisis is fundamental to make public policy decisions that are based on evidence and that respond to the public’s needs. As parliamentarians, we have the crucial role of exercising political control over government responses to COVID-19, and evaluating and passing emergency legislation that allocates national funds to meet the needs of the populations we represent. We also have the responsibility to promote transparency around global and national measures related to COVID-19, a key aspect in maintaining the public’s trust in the government's actions to address the pandemic, and in ensuring that citizens receive the information they need.”
To learn more about the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
Ottawa, March 8, 2021
Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador Karina Arteaga is organizing the event “The impact of COVID-19 on the roles of a woman leader” to commemorate International Women’s Day
On March 8, Karina Arteaga, Member of the National Assembly of Ecuador and South American Vice-president of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Network for Gender Equality, will be organizing with the collaboration of ParlAmericas the event: “The impact of COVID-19 on the roles of a woman leader.” The event will address topics such as the impacts of COVID-19 on women specifically, the increase of domestic violence while social isolating, the threats for women’s economic autonomy in times of crisis, and the challenges female political leaders face during the pandemic.
The event will feature opening remarks by Ms. Arteaga and interventions by Member of Congress Arlette Contreras (Peru) and the Honorable Alternate Member of the National Assembly Ana Irene Delgado (Panama). The panel will be moderated by Ms. Nadia Ramos, Executive Director of the Centro de Liderazgo e Innovación para Mujeres de las Américas (Centre for Leadership and Innovation for Women in the Americas).
This event will take place within the International Women’s Day framework, to create a space for discussion and to encourage reflections about topics that are critical for all of society, while also integrating gender issues into public policies responding to the pandemic crisis.
For more information about the work of ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
February 25, 2021
On Wednesday, February 24, ParlAmericas and the International Relations Unit of the National Assembly of Panama held a parliamentary staff meeting entitled “Accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Assembly of Panama.” The objective of the meeting was to explore a series of good practices being implemented by other parliaments to advance the 2030 Agenda from a technical perspective. The goal was to share experiences and ideas that would help support the development of similar initiatives in the National Assembly of Panama to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event took place in follow-up to the parliamentary meeting held on January 19, during which members of the National Assembly of Panama discussed and deepened their knowledge of the mechanisms needed to better integrate parliamentary activities with the goals of the Agenda.
The Honourable Member of the National Assembly Fernando Arce (Panama), President of the Foreign Relations Committee and ParlAmericas Board Member, presented opening remarks and expressed his hope that, “within the National Assembly of Panama, as parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, we work together to build and strengthen the dynamics, principles, relations, and institutions that allow every person to participate in social, economic, cultural and political life based on equal rights, equality, and dignity.”
The meeting was moderated by Mr. Cristóbal Campos of the National Directorate for the Promotion of Citizen Participation of the National Assembly of Panama. Moreover, there were presentations from subject-matter specialists who lead the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in their respective parliaments, including Member of the National Assembly Pabel Muñoz (Ecuador), Coordinator of the Parliamentary Group for the Eradication of Poverty and SDG Compliance of the National Assembly of Ecuador; Ms. Isabel Zúñiga Quiros, Head of the Legislative Research Center of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica; Mr. René Villasboa, Director General of the Legislative Observatory of the Chamber of Senators of Paraguay; and Mr. José María Hernández Vallejo, Technical Secretary of the Working Group for the Continuation of the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico.
During the meeting, Ms. María Gabriela Graell, Director of the International Relations Unit of the National Assembly of Panama commented that “it is fundamental to implement a strategy among parliamentary staff and, above all, exchange good practices with countries of the region.”
The presentations were followed by a space for dialogue between participants. The meeting concluded with closing remarks by Mr. Quibián Panay, Secretary General of the National Assembly of Panama, who emphasized that “all these alliances aim to strengthen legislation and build capacity for all parliamentary actors to generate more sustainable initiatives. However, it is important to realize that none of this would be possible without the hard work of a committed team of parliamentary staff who, from their positions, make it possible for all these initiatives to come to fruition. Behind the political will of parliamentarians there is always a team of parliamentary staff supporting and advising them from their knowledge and experience.”
This meeting is part of a broader program being carried out by the Parliamentary Office for the Monitoring and Implementation of the SDGs of the National Assembly of Panama, which will continue to work with parliamentary actors and strategic partners to support the exchange of knowledge and the development of new tools for the promotion of parliamentary work aligned with achieving the 2030 Agenda.
For further information on ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
February 24, 2021
On February 24th, 2021 the Honourable Bridgid Annisette-George (Trinidad and Tobago), Speaker of the House of Representatives and Vice-President of ParlAmericas provided welcoming remarks for the regional launch of the initiative “Making Cities Resilient 2030” (MCR2030) in the Americas and Caribbean, organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.
This event brought together representatives of UNDRR, youth leaders, local government officials, academia, national governments, and MCR partners to discuss the importance of improving urban resilience and sustainability in the region, as well as the manner in which the newly launched initiative, MCR2030, could help achieve this. MCR2030 is a global partnership that aims to strengthen local resilience by improving cities’ understanding of risk and strengthening their capacity to develop and implement inclusive local strategies to manage disaster risk, all while promoting vertical and horizontal integration between different levels of government and strategic partners.
Speaker Annisette-George highlighted during her intervention the critical role that parliaments have within this endeavour, sharing that “as MCR2030 highlights, climate governance is essential. In order to build the overall resilience of our countries, our communities must have the proper tools and resources to understand disaster risk and create holistic disaster management plans. As parliamentarians, we are the elected representatives of our people, and we have the responsibility to ensure that our actions and decisions are reflective and responsive to the diverse needs of our constituents. This naturally calls on us to work with our local government institutions, legislatures and members of the community.”
For more information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, go to www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
February 11, 2021
Parliamentarians from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala participated in a series of sessions on Experiences of Legislative Modernization in Latin America organized by ParlAmericas and the National Democratic Institute in Central America
On November 13, 2020 and January 29, 2021, ParlAmericas and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) held two virtual sessions for members of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, members of the National Congress of Honduras, and members of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala as part of the series Experiences of Legislative Modernization in Latin America. The purpose of these activities was to provide parliamentarians from northern Central American countries with practical knowledge on legislative modernization, facilitate the exchange of experiences with parliamentarians from other Latin American countries, identify basic elements required to establish an inter-parliamentary agenda for legislative modernization, and promote collaboration between the parliaments of the three Central American countries.
The first meeting, held on November 13, 2020, was inaugurated by Member of the National Assembly Elizabeth Cabezas (Ecuador), President of ParlAmericas, who highlighted the importance of legislative modernization in the current situation: “The modernization and strengthening of parliamentary work is essential because it allows us to improve and continue fulfilling our legislative, representation, and oversight duties. In complicated contexts, such as those we are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role played by legislators is crucial to achieving an economic recovery that meets the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.”
Mr. Eduardo Núñez Vargas, Director of NDI’s Regional Program for Central America, also welcomed the participants and highlighted opportunities for parliaments to innovate and adapt: “The pandemic has made it necessary to innovate so that parliaments can continue to play their strategic roles. This situation should be seen as an opportunity to align the demands of our current context with medium- and long-term approaches to parliamentary reform and modernization as a tool for adapting to change and as a way to establish new foundations for the relationship between parliaments and citizens.” Mr. Núñez Vargas also moderated the session, which included presentations on reforms for strengthening institutions from a comparative perspective, as well as the cases of Ecuador and Argentina. Ms. Pamela Lozano, an invited panellist and legislative openness specialist, highlighted modernization processes in public administration carried out in Latin America and how related laws and policies have also contributed to recent efforts by parliaments to transition to remote sessions. Member of the National Assembly César Solórzano (Ecuador), Vice-President of the National Assembly and member of the Open Parliament Group, shared his thoughts on the opportunities and challenges related to implementing virtual plenary sessions in the National Assembly to adapt parliamentary work to the context of the pandemic. He also commented on the recent amendment of the Organic Law on Legislative Functions, highlighting its focus on strengthening the principles of ethics, accountability, and transparency. Member of the Chamber of Deputies Daniela Vilar (Argentina), President of the Special Committee for the Modernization of Parliamentary Work, presented on the progress that has been made to strengthen parliamentary functions in Argentina through the modernization program. This has included efforts to establish an open parliament, such as processes launched in November to co-create an action plan and measures to hold virtual parliamentary sessions through the approval of the Protocol for Remote Parliamentary Work of the Chamber of Deputies.
Following these presentations, Member of Congress Cornelio García (Guatemala), Member of the Legislative Assembly Anabel Belloso (El Salvador), and Member of Congress Enrique Yllescas (Honduras) shared reports on progress toward legislative modernization in their respective parliaments. They highlighted specific challenges in adopting the technologies needed to hold virtual plenary sessions and the importance of considering experiences and practices of different countries in the hemisphere in response to the pandemic as part of broader reforms. After these presentations, participating parliamentarians had the opportunity to ask the panellists questions and share additional thoughts on the topic. The session ended with closing remarks from Member of the National Assembly Cabezas and Mr. Alejandro Urizar, Director of NDI in Honduras.
The second session in this series focused on innovation and citizen participation. It was held on January 29, 2021 and included the participation of parliamentary staff from northern Central American parliaments, as well as Ambassador Rita Rudaitis-Renaud of the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala. The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Member of the Legislative Assembly Cristina Cornejo (El Salvador), a member of the ParlAmericas Board of Directors, who shared her thoughts on El Salvador’s progress in this area and highlighted that “parliaments’ ability to adapt in the context of changing political scenarios is essential to ensuring that citizen’s demands are taken into account and that effective conditions for political stability are established, especially in adverse times such as those we are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition, Member of Congress Víctor Martínez (Honduras) shared information about the Open Parliament Committee of the National Congress of Honduras, which has provided training on openness and citizen participation tools both to members of Congress in the committee and to technical teams responsible for different parliamentary departments, with the goal of guiding the co-creation process for an open parliament action plan. Member of Congress Sofía Hernández (Guatemala), First Vice-President of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala, presented on the implementation of parliamentary initiatives using information and communication technologies to expand the means used to interact with the Guatemalan population, including through social media, a television channel, and a mobile application. She also emphasized the value of the Unit for Access to Public Information as an accountability mechanism for citizens.
During the presentation on regional experiences, Member of the Legislative Assembly Ana Lucía Delgado (Costa Rica), First Secretary of the Legislative Board of the Assembly, explained the experiences and lessons learned in relation to efforts on legislative openness and more effective citizen participation in the Legislative Assembly over the years. These have included key milestones, such as the Institutional Policy on Open Parliament approved in 2019 and the forthcoming approval of the regulations governing the Institutional Committee on Open Parliament, which will include civil society representatives, members of the Legislative Assembly, and parliamentary staff. In addition, Member of the Chamber of Deputies Vlado Mirosevic (Chile), a member of the Bicameral Transparency Group of the National Congress, emphasized the importance of initiatives to address citizen demands in the context of growing democratic tensions in the region and around the world. He highlighted strategies and significant advances made in Chile, including the Citizen Participation Regulations and Virtual Congress—a digital tool used to facilitate and increase the visibility of citizen contributions to debates on bills.
Following these presentations, participating parliamentarians shared their thoughts during a dialogue about a potential inter-parliamentary agenda for legislative modernization in northern Central American countries, moderated by Mr. Núñez Vargas and Ms. Josseline Matute, NDI Senior Program Officer. The meeting ended with closing remarks from Mr. Urizar and Ms. Natalí Casanova, Senior Program Officer of Open Parliament at ParlAmericas.
February 8, 2021
On February 8 and 12, 2021, the CARICOM Secretariat’s Gender and Development Programme and the UN Women Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean, along with ParlAmericas, Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL), and the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of West Indies are organizing a preparatory meeting ahead of the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), in recognition of the importance of the Caribbean region convening in a multi-stakeholder setting to establish its priorities and develop a concrete position in advance of the global proceedings.
CSW65 will take place at UN Headquarters on March 15-26, with opportunities for virtual participation; the priority theme is “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
This preparatory meeting, titled Building a Coordinated Caribbean Position for CSW65, will convene ministers with responsibility for gender affairs, parliamentarians, heads of the national gender machinery, representatives of civil society, and academia. These actors will hold a focused dialogues on the CSW process, this year’s priority theme, and a CARICOM position.
The meeting will offer a variety of sessions that include a parliamentary panel on “The Impact of Women’s Leadership.” This panel will be moderated by Senator the Honourable Ranard Henfield (The Bahamas), Vice-President for the Caribbean of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament, and it will include presentations by the Honourable Pennelope Beckles (Trinidad and Tobago), MP and Minister of Housing and Urban Development; and by the Honourable Dr. Vindhya Persaud (Guyana), MP and Minister of Human Services and Social Security.
In the words of the Honorable Bridgid Annisette-George, Vice-President of ParlAmericas, “Supporting women's leadership is a critical goal in itself, and it is also an objective that has myriad positive impacts for the inclusiveness and quality of our decision-making processes and their outputs. Collaborating with our partners in all sectors is essential to ensuring that we continue to advance women's representation in the region, and intergovernmental processes like CSW provide an excellent opportunity for focused dialogue, reflection, and then further action.”
The outcome of this meeting will be the adoption of a CARICOM statement for CSW65 that will reinforce regional alignment and support initiatives addressing goals related to women’s political leadership, the elimination of gender violence, and the empowerment of all women and girls.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas and to participate in this meeting virtually, please use #ParlAmericasGEN.
January 29, 2021
On January 22, 2021, parliamentary staff from 15 countries in Latin America participated in a virtual meeting to reflect on the progress of legislative openness in the hemisphere and contribute to the current process of reviewing and updating the ParlAmericas Road Map towards Legislative Openness. The meeting also featured a presentation of the renewed methodology of the Latin American Legislative Transparency Index, developed since 2011 by the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency.
Senator Blanca Ovelar (Paraguay), President of ParlAmericas, opened the meeting by highlighting that “parliamentary staff are key actors to anchor all the essential ideas that our mission promotes and to guarantee the institutionalization of all efforts towards opening parliaments.”
The first part of this activity was dedicated to advancing the process of updating the Road Map towards Legislative Openness. It was introduced by Ms. Rocío Noriega, Advisor to the Bicameral Transparency Group of the National Congress of Chile, who highlighted the usefulness of the Road Map to "facilitate the understanding of the concept of an open parliament and its pillars," in addition to its value "during the preparation and implementation of action plans and commitments in the region."
After a presentation on the results of a survey developed to guide the review of the Road Map by Ms. Emilie Lemieux, Deputy Director of Open Parliament and Sustainable Development at ParlAmericas, participants were divided into five working groups to further share experiences and explore ideas and good practices to strengthen this publication. These working groups were led by officials from the hemisphere's parliaments: Mr. Waldir Bezerra Miranda, Deputy Secretary General of the Board of Directors of the Federal Senate of Brazil, led the working group on transparency and access to public information; Mrs. María Liz Sosa, Director General of Legislative Strengthening and External Cooperation of the Senate of Paraguay, led the working group on accountability; Mr. Juan Carlos Chavarría, Director of the Department of Citizen Participation of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, led the working group on citizen participation; Ms. Rocío Noriega led the working group on ethics and probity; and Mr. Mauricio Sarabia, General Coordinator of Planning of the National Assembly of Ecuador, was in charge of the working group on strategic planning.
The second part of the meeting focused on the presentation of the new methodology of the Latin American Legislative Transparency Index by the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency and EUROsociAL+ and saw representatives of civil society organizations and international organizations join the conversation. Ms. Analina Montes, General Manager of the National Congress of Honduras, welcomed this segment of the meeting on behalf of the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Open Parliament and highlighted the value of the index and the importance of collaboration with civil society during the co-creation of open parliament action plans and commitments: “ParlAmericas established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency that includes civil society organizations in the region in order to continue consolidating closer collaborations between parliaments and civil society.” These were accompanied by welcoming remarks from Mr. Marcelo Espinel, Project Director of the Citizenship and Development Foundation, and Mr. Borja Diaz Rivillas, Good Governance Official of the Democratic Governance Area at EUROsociAL+.
Mr. Roger Celi, Coordinator of the Legislative Area of the Citizenship and Development Foundation, the coordinating organization of the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, and Mr. Raúl Ferrada, EUROsociAL+ Consultant for the project to renew the Latin American Legislative Transparency Index, presented on the updates to the index and answered questions from participants.
Closing the meeting, Ms. María Gabriela Graell, Director of International Relations of the National Assembly of Panama, highlighted the importance of complementary tools such as the ParlAmericas Road Map towards Legislative Openness and the Legislative Transparency Index, and the relevance of spaces such as the ParlAmericas Parliamentary Staff Network on Open Parliament for the exchange of ideas: “It is a joy to know that this network continues to strengthen and has been well received, allowing more parliaments and a broader range of internal departments to get involved and further engage in supporting open parliament initiatives.”
To learn more about ParlAmericas' work, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.
January 19, 2021
On Tuesday, January 19, ParlAmericas and the International Relations Unit of the National Assembly of Panama held the parliamentary meeting "Accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Assembly of Panama," aimed at supporting the Assembly’s efforts to establish new mechanisms or practices to promote and monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The meeting provided a space in which the Members of Panama’s National Assembly were able to learn about the experiences of other parliaments in the region to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The meeting was opened by the Honourable Member of the National Assembly Fernando Arce (Panama), President of the Foreign Relations Committee and ParlAmericas Board Member. Member of the National Assembly Arce stressed that “it is the right time to increase our action; the world calls upon us to rebuild better following the pandemic, and we have the opportunity to ensure that our efforts are linked to a sustainable and equitable future. In the Assembly of Panama, we have made progress and we have worked on different elements of the 2030 Agenda, but there are many opportunities to expand and strengthen these efforts to better integrate our parliamentary activities with the goals of the Agenda.”
The meeting was moderated by the Honourable Member of the National Assembly Ana Giselle Rosas (Panama), who noted that “today's dialogue will allow us to address the efforts and the obstacles we face in our countries with a view to advancing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, in the spirit of a collective search for solutions in the understanding that complex challenges demand innovative responses.” There was also a presentation by Member of the National Assembly Pabel Muñoz (Ecuador), Coordinator of the Parliamentary Group for the Eradication of Poverty and SDG Compliance of the National Assembly of Ecuador, who shared the experiences of Ecuador’s National Assembly in terms of its progress, achievements and challenges in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.
The gathering counted on the participation of the Association of Alternate parliamentarians of the National Assembly who are becoming increasingly involved in the efforts for the development of the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, the Honourable Member of the National Assembly Melchor Herrera (Panama) stressed the importance of the parliamentary role in addressing the Agenda and the challenges they face as a result of COVID-19 and the global debate that has been generated around the effects of the pandemic.
Following the presentation, a space for dialogue was opened among the participants. The meeting concluded with the reflections of the Honourable Member of the National Assembly Edison Broce (Panama) and Maria Gabriela Graell, Director of International Relations of the National Assembly of Panama. In Member of the National Assembly Broce’s closing remarks, he stated: “I urge you to continue working as a team, because only as a team can we successfully complete several of these projects, which are not isolated, and perhaps they will not change everything from one day to the next, but taking them all together and thinking towards collective action can help us get closer to achieving the SDGs.
Finally, the Director of the International Relations Unit highlighted the participants’ willingness to make space in their day to address the issues of the Sustainable Development Goals, and invited them to continue making alliances to achieve progress in the 2030 Agenda.
For further information on the work carried out by ParlAmericas, visit www.parlamericas.org and follow @ParlAmericas on social media.