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OAS Highlights the Importance of Parliaments Close to the Citizenry and Access to Public Information at Regional Meeting of Open Government Partnership in Chile

  January 11, 2013

Representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) today spoke of the importance of Parliaments that are open to citizens and the importance of access to public information, during the Second Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership: "Challenges and Progress in the Open Government Initiative," which concludes today in Santiago, Chile.

The Director of the OAS Department of International Law, Dante Negro, focused his presentation on the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Information prepared by a group of experts in response to resolution 2514 of the OAS General Assembly held in 2009 in Honduras.

The Director of the Department of International Law spoke about the scope and purpose of the Model Law, its contents and its main elements. He explained that this document governs the right of access to information in the possession, custody or control of any public authority, defines what constitutes public information and authority and how said right is exercised.

The senior official from the Inter-American institution said that the Model Law is based on the principle of maximum disclosure, meaning that the information held by public authorities should be complete, timely and accessible, and should be provided to citizens through actions such as: the creation and maintenance of records of information assets; the development of a binding system for the maintenance, archiving and disposal of documents; and the creation, maintenance and publication of a record of requests and disclosures of all documents. "The information held by public authorities should be subject to clear and precise rules on legitimate exceptions defined by law, strictly necessary in a democratic society," he said.

Negro concluded by proposing the inclusion of the dissemination of the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Information in the action programs prepared by the countries of the region that are part of the Open Government Partnership, and offered the support of the OAS in this regard. He also encouraged recognition of the Law as one of the central tools for meeting the objectives of the Open Government Partnership, the central theme of the meeting.

For his part, the senior specialist of the Department of Democratic Sustainability and Special Missions of the Secretariat for Political Affairs of the OAS, Moisés Benamor, said the essence of the Open Government lies in three principal areas - transparency, participation and collaboration - and recalled that the concept can be found in the work agenda of 58 governments around the world. "In this enormous responsibility, parliaments play an indispensable role in ensuring the proper policy framework for safeguarding, by the competent authority, the right of access to information generated in each of the representative institutions of the state," he said.

"The OAS recognizes as timely and necessary the incorporation of the concept of the Open Parliament," he explained, and set forth ideas for building a road map "which incorporates not only the parliaments of the 15 countries that are part of the Alliance but covers the 34 legislative institutions of the Member States of the hemispheric organization," said Benamor.

First, he proposed as a starting point the Santiago Declaration on Transparency and Integrity in Parliaments and Political Parties signed in January 2012, which outlines an ambitious scheme of actions and recommendations applicable to national and local parliaments. Also, Benamor expressed his support for the initiative to create the Parliamentary Information Repository of the Americas (RIPA), a large database that he defined as "a powerful digital tool that could manage the communication of the Regional Parliamentary Network so that the legislators could maintain constant interaction in their day to day work.

Among his proposals, the OAS official also mentioned the creation of a modern platform for parliamentary training, where information resources generated by the parliaments of the member countries could be accessed; the promotion of the values ​​and principles of corporate social responsibility in parliamentary management; the revaluation of parliamentary archives; and joint efforts with universities and civil society organizations.

The Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership seeks to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices on the issues of access to information, transparency, accountability and citizen participation, in order to strengthen integrity and combat corruption. The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, participated in the opening of the meeting, that also aims to highlight the importance of including the parliaments of the region in the Open Government Partnership; to develop courses of action in support of the Open Government Declaration, adopted in September 2011, which has brought together governments and organizations from 58 countries; to propose projects that can be addressed in a coordinated way by the various parliaments of the hemisphere; and to develop suggestions for strengthening cooperative work in this area.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-006/13