Digital Technologies for Open Parliament in Georgia

Citizens of Georgia can now access public information, keep track of the legislative work and send electronic requests to their Parliament via the new Public Information Module and Mobile Application, developed with the assistance of the European Union and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

The new technology was presented to the MPs, civil society and international organizations on 13 March 2018.

“Electronic tools ease public access to the parliamentary information and promote citizen engagement into legislative process. This is an important step forward to enhancing legislative openness and introducing e-Parliament in Georgia,” said Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance.

She also noted that the new electronic tools are part of the Parliament’s commitments under its 2017 Open Parliament Action Plan.

Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, stressed the importance of the Parliament’s cooperation with civil society and the public. “Democracy is one of the core values of the EU and a common commitment between the EU and Georgia.  This new system, is an example of the support we provide to the Parliament, and we hope that it will make the legislative process more open and accessible to Georgian citizens,” Vincent Rey said.

The participants of the event were also addressed by Gigi Bregadze, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative a.i., and Levan Avalishvili, IDFI Programs Director, who introduced the new electronic tools and their unique functions for promoting Open Parliament principles in Georgia.

“The GeoParliament App allows citizens to follow the parliamentary work on their mobile phones, comment on draft laws and keep track of the Parliament’s agenda, including the dates of parliamentary sessions, committee hearings, bureau sittings and discussions on the new pieces of legislation. The Public Information Module eases access to the public information, such as the Constitution of Georgia, Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, bureau decisions, and orders and decrees of the Parliament Speaker. In addition, citizens will be able to electronically request information about the Parliament’s budget, expenditures and procurement,” Levan Avalishvili said.

Open Parliament is part of Georgia’s efforts under the Open Government Partnership (OGP), international platform that unites 75 countries to help their governments become more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Georgia is chairing the OGP this year and will be hosting the 5th annual OGP summit in July 2018.

The European Union and UNDP are supporting Open Parliament in Georgia under their wider progra


Georgia Moves Forward to Legislative Openness

Georgian Parliament fully implemented 13 and partially 11 out of 24 commitments described in the Open Parliament Action Plan 2017, and will continue this successful work in 2018. Among other achievements, the Parliament has initiated the Code of Ethics of MPs and provided opportunities for citizens to submit e-petitions and e-legislative initiatives.

The implementation of the Open Parliament Action Plan was discussed at a specially convened meeting on 5 February 2018, organized by the Parliament of Georgia with support from the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

The meeting brought together Members of Parliament and representatives of the Government of Georgia, civil society and international organizations.

Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance; Sophie Huet Guerriche, Governance Sector Coordinator at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia; and Gigi Bregadze, UNDP Democratic Governance Team leader in Georgia, addressed the meeting participants.

The report of the Open Parliament activities in 2017 was presented by Irina Pruidze. She stressed that accountability and citizen engagement will become key priorities of the Open Parliament work in 2018.

“We made significant progress last year to ensure that parliamentary work in Georgia is transparent and open. In 2018, we will focus on citizens’ engagement and access to information. The new website of the Georgian Parliament, which will be launched later this year, will provide innovative opportunities for all, including to easily access information and take part in the legislative process,” Pruidze said.

Sophie Huet Guerriche, Governance Sector Coordinator at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, underlined the monitoring and oversight role of civil society in achieving legislative openness.

“Open Parliament strengthens accountability and transparency of the authorities and presents additional opportunities for their cooperation with civil society, private sector and citizens,” Sophie Huet Guerriche said. 

Open Parliament is part of Georgia’s efforts under the Open Government Partnership (OGP), international platform that unites over 70 countries to help their governments become more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Georgia is chairing the OGP this year and will be hosting the 5th annual OGP summit in July 2018.

Ketevan Tsanava, representative of the Ministry of Justice and Georgia’s National OGP Coordinator, updated the meeting participants about the country’s progress in fulfilling the OGP commitments and informed about the ongoing preparations for the global summit.

Transparency and Public Participation in Lawmaking Discussed by MPs and Experts in Tbilisi

_DSC1459 (1)Practical ways of ensuring a transparent and participatory legislative process were the focus of a workshop held by the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia in cooperation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), on 18 and 19 December 2017 in Tbilisi.

The event enabled over 56 representative from the Parliament of Georgia (MPs and staff members), civil society and international organizations to discuss the best international practices of public consultations and citizen engagement in lawmaking based on findings of the OSCE/ODIHR comprehensive assessment on the legislative processes in Georgia.

The workshop opened with the introductory remarks from Eka Beselia – Chair of the Legal Issues Committee and Working Group on Public Consultations, Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open & Transparent Governance of the Parliament of Georgia, Yuri Marchenko – Associate Legal Officer at the ODIHR and Gigi Bregadze – Democratic Governance Team Leader at UNDP in Georgia.

This was the second thematic event to build on the findings of the 2015 OSCE/ODIHR Assessment of the Legislative Process in Georgia. Conducted in co-operation with the Parliament of Georgia, the assessment provided an in-depth analysis of the regulation and practice of lawmaking in Georgia and made recommendations for improvement, including with regard to public consultations.

“Georgian Parliament is ready to increase civic participation in the lawmaking processes and this is well reflected in the Open Parliament Action Plan and our work as well. This workshop will significantly contribute to the implementation process of the Action Plan. We create transparent and open space for more civic participation in the legislative processes in Georgia,” said Eka Beselia, Chair of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia.

Workshop discussions benefited from contributions by the ODIHR expertsMelanie Sully(Austria), Sandra Pernar (Croatia) and Liia Hänni (Estonia) who shared examples of good practice in enabling and enhancing public participation in parliamentary legislative activities, including through the use of digital technology.

“Meaningful public consultations and other forms of public participation are instrumental in ensuring that legislation is both effective and fully compliant with human rights” said Yuri Marchenko, ODIHR Legal Officer. “The workshop was an opportunity for a detailed examination of practical solutions which Parliament could use to make its legislative work more open and participatory.”

The concluding sessions of the workshop were dedicated to discussing the draft amendments to the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure that promote wider public participation in the work of the Parliament. Namely, the modifications refer to a) submitting e-petitions and collecting e-signatures for legislative initiatives and providing feedback to citizen comments on draft legislation in Georgia; and b) the status, composition and operation of consultative councils at the parliamentary committees. The amendments were prepared by the Working Group on Public Consultations of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance, supported by the European Union (EU), UNDP and IDFI.

“The European Union strongly supports Georgia’s efforts to achieve transparency, openness and citizen engagement in governance and lawmaking, especially as the country is chairing the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2018 and has to demonstrate the exemplary commitment in this field,” said Sophie Huet Guerriche, Coordinator for the Governance Sector at the EU Delegation to Georgia.

 Georgia joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011. In 2015, this was followed by the endorsement of the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness by the Parliament of Georgia and the adoption of the country’s first legislative openness action plan. In May 2016, Georgia, together with France, became a Co-Chair of the OGP Steering Committee and, in September 2017, assumed the OGP chairing role for a year.

See the photos of the even here.

Accessible Parliament for All – Concept on Adaption of the Parliamentary Building in Tbilisi

accparl-1On November 28, 2017, as part of the Global Legislative Openness Week, the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance held a meeting titled Accessible Parliament for All and presented plans to adapt the Tbilisi building to the needs of the people with disabilities. The plan was developed by the Parliament in cooperation with the non-governmental organization Mariani with the support of EUUNDP, and IDFI in the framework of the project titled Strengthening the System of Parliamentary Democracy in Georgia. The Parliament of Georgia took the commitment to adapt its building and resources to the needs of people with disabilities as part of the Open Parliament Action Plan (Commitment 1.5).

The event was attended by people with disabilities, local associations and non-governmental organizations working on this issue, Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, Members of Parliament, as well as representatives of EU, UNDP, and international and diplomatic organizations.

Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia: “I am      glad that the  Parliament of Georgia hosts such an important event  within the framework of the  Global Legislative Openness Week. This  once again confirms our willingness to  enhance and promote citizen-  centered and innovations based governance. I would  also like to  emphasize the norms established by the new edition of the  Constitution  of Georgia, in which the state is obligated to create  special conditions for persons  with disabilities to realize their rights  and interests. The Parliament wants its      services and  infrastructure to be adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities,  in order to facilitate their equal involvement and participation in  parliamentary  activities. We are proud to announce that in the  nearest future the Parliament  building will be fully restored and  made accessible to people with mobility and  vision restrictions.  Today, we would like to introduce the plan to adapt the Tbilisi  building, which is a commitment under the Open Parliament Action  Plan of Georgia.  I would like to thank the European Union, UNDP,  Institute for Development of  Freedom of Information, and Mariani  for their special contribution in this process.”

Shombi Sharp, UNDP Acting Resident Representative in Georgia:

“I would like to thank the Speaker of the Parliament for personally addressing this important issue. Also I would like to thank the Chairperson of the Council and partners, such as IDFI, who were helping to implement this work, Mariani as well – the key partner in this process and of course, European Union, who helped to make all this possible.”

Dorota  Dlouchy-Suliga, Head of the EU Delegation’s Political, Press and Information Section: “in Georgia what we see is that the government’s, the parliament’s and most recently Tbilisi Municipality’s efforts to increase transparency and accessibility show high commitment to OGP principles and values, and in recognition of this, Georgia has been selected as the Chairperson of the Partnership for 2017-2018.”

Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI): “This event is dedicated directly to adapting the building of the Parliament of Georgia for persons with disabilities. This is a significant issue, since it is one of the priorities for the Global Legislative Openness Week, being held not only in Georgia but in various other countries as well.”

At the event, Irina Pruidze, Head of Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance spoke specifically about the Council, its work and achievements, as well as generally about Georgia’s successes and future plans within the framework of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Mariam Mikiashvili, representative of the non-governmental organization Mariani, and Rati Ionatamishvili, First Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, presented the plan for adapting the Parliament building to people with special needs. The plan describes the steps necessary for adapting the Parliament building, including installation of ramps and platform lifts, tactile trails and maps, and voice navigation systems. Changes will be made to all key areas of the Parliament building – entrances, stairs, session halls, briefing rooms, sanitary-hygienic facilities and cafeterias.

The presentation was followed by a discussion, during which a number of suggestions and ideas for further refinement of the plan were voiced. The event ended with a ceremonial reception. A video recording of the event can be found here.

The event photo gallery can be found below.

Georgia is the OGP Chair

21616558_1552939088096529_9080080355516274532_nOn September 19, 2017, at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly,the official meeting of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Steering Committee took place. At the meeting, the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili officially took over the OGP chairmanship from the French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am deeply honored and privileged to be among the hosts of this important gathering. Speaking to you today as an incoming chair of the most powerful global movement for openness and democracy. Throughout our OGP journey we have partnered with many of you and we have followed good practices or shared our success stories with different stakeholders. I am thrilled to witness the results of the OGP countries illustrating across the globe  openness and willingness of people to control their governments and yet we have many lessons to learn – not only from each other or the civil society organizations, but also from journalists, entrepreneursm, start ups, who have knowledge of details that matter the most to achieve excellence in good governance. Hence, I welcome all of them and we are honored to have these people participating in today’s event. Notwithstanding the success, the theme of today’s gathering is rebuilding trust in governance – an issue that requires a long term strategy to tackle. I encourage all of you to use this time to exchange collective reflections on how democracy can be reinvented. I would like to express our commitment to continue efforts of France to strengthen OGP and I would like to thank our French friends and colleagues for their efforts. Exactly a year ago, we met and discussed the vision on questions such as how do we plan for the next year to ensure that we deliver transformational impact in the lives of citizens. Ensure of cooperation and citizens’ involvement; promotion of transparency and fight against corruption; – these are the core issues that we are going to work on in the period of our chairmanship” – stated the Prime Minister. Furthermore, Giorgi Kvirikashvili remarked that as the chair of Open Government Partnership (OGP), Georgia will ensure deeper cooperation between OGP member states and will maximally promote strengthening of position of OGP and popularization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the meeting, the civil society was presented by Mukelani Dimba, the Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Center (ODAC), who, along with Georgia, was elected as a chair of the OGP.

“I would like to speak to you as an ordinary citizen would – a person that does not have an opportunity to attend such events and speak openly about the expectations he has from the government. Today, we have gathered here to discuss the best ways of rebuilding citizens’ trust towards their governments. Along with the Government of Georgia, we are planning to actively work on the aforementioned topic and we encourage OGP member states to ensure and promote implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We encourage the member states to elaborate their national action plans in a manner that serves implementation of good governance, improves social and econimic conditions and ensures access to justice” – stated Mukelani Dimba.

It is noteworthy that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) meeting was also attended by the civil society representatives, including Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the member of the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). “Becoming a chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a logical outcome of our country’s success. Georgia was one of the first countries to join OGP in 2011 and since then has been actively trying to implement the partnership’s values in the country’s executive, legislative and local governments. I would like to congratulate the Georgian people and all organizations that are part of this process!” – said Giorgi Kldiashvili.

You can view the complete video of the Steering Committee meeting here.

Another meeting of the OGP Steering Committee was held in New York on September 20, 2017. The meeting was attended by the Governments of Canada, Chile, France and Italy.Georgian delegation consisted of Tea Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice of Georgia and Zurab Sanikidze, the Director of the Analytical Depratment of the Ministry of Jusrice of Georgia. As for Georgian civil sector, it was represented by Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). The Minister of Justice informed the Committee members that Georgia will host the Open Government Partnership Global Summit next summer. Furthermore, the Minister thanked France and other representatives of governments for voting for Georgia in the OGP elections.

21617551_1397231673658743_7795122375716804049_nThe following issues were discussed at September 20 meeting:

– The Steering Committee’s role in advancing OGP’s Strategic Refresh;

– Presentation of new lead co-chairs and priorities for co-chairmanship year;

-OGP country performance check-in.

Complete agenda of September 20 meeting is available at this link.