Nepal Parliament Finance Committee Enhances Voice and Input of Citizens through Pre-Budget Discussions

NGO representatives brainstorm during a breakout session. 

For the first time in Nepal’s history, pre-budget discussions took place outside of the nation’s capital city of Kathmandu. Since 2014, Nepal's Legislature Parliament Finance Committee has worked with NDI to increase citizen participation, especially in the area of citizen input in the budget process through public consultations. NDI offered its support to the Finance Committee by organizing Committee-led pre-budget discussions throughout 2015 and 2016 to reach out to citizens in the hill, mountain and Tarai regions. The discussions fostered dialogue between Nepali citizens and the parliament, thus opening the decision-making processes to more people. Consultations equipped the Finance Committee with the information and confidence it needed to make improving the overall budget process a priority prior to the finalization of Nepal's new constitution.

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Nepal Civil Society Monitors Earthquake Reconstruction Process

A civil society monitor gathers the concerns of earthquake victims in a temporary shelter.

Ordinary citizens and civic organizations become tremendously more active in the community immediately after a tragedy hits their community. This was my experience with my community in Kosovo in the post-war reconstruction in the late 90’s and this has certainly been the case in Nepal after two mega earthquakes last year took close to 9,000 lives, injured more than 22,000 people and destroyed more than 600,000 homes. Nepalis in solidarity with their fellow citizens flocked to help with relief materials, building shelters and reinforcing other people’s homes. The spirit of the community was very high.

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Innovating in World Megacities: A Search for Stories

Living Cities and NDI have entered a partnership to find and share the stories of innovators in world megacities.

Every 20 years, the United Nations gathers to discuss the work of cities and renew political commitment to sustainable urbanization. In this year of the third Habitat conference, there is a vibrant global conversation happening around poverty reduction and a “new urban agenda.” Innovation will be a critical part of that conversation, as leaders and policymakers look for the new regulation, new office or new technology that could pick the lock on an intractable problem.

The ability to innovate is absolutely critical if cities are going to meet the ever-evolving challenges of the 21st century.

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Join NDI's Panels at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit

Every two years, the country chair of the Open Government Partnership hosts the OGP Global Summit, the largest gathering of open government practitioners from all over the world.

NDI will be joining leaders from NGOs, the private sector, academia, government, civil society, technologists, and other advocates at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit. The three-day conference, which will be held this week in Mexico City, will convene sessions on a variety of topics, including creating and implementing action plans, engagement with the legislative branch, civil society and parliamentary partnerships, standards and frameworks for parliamentary transparency, Latin America regional updates and efforts on openness, and open election data principles.

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Creating Space for Civil Society Through Technology and Open Data

Credit: Isabela Bernal - Las2Orillas / NDI Colombia

Today is International Day of Democracy, a day meant to inspire reflection and celebration of the principles of democracy worldwide. This year’s theme, “Space for Civil Society,” serves as a reminder that a strong and active civil society is necessary for resilient democracy. This year’s theme is also a reaction to the fact that civil society faces serious challenges globally. Since the early 2000s, authoritarian regimes have used new methods to limit the ability of civil society to protect the rights of citizens, demand accountability from government and engage in public policy. These limitations extend to the Internet and social media; authoritarian regimes continue to curtail political speech and monitor political dissent online. But just as autocratic regimes are imposing these limitations, civil society is adopting new technologies and using open government data to create new civic space and work in parallel with the interests of open, inclusive government. NDI is supporting these efforts by assisting civil society groups in the creation of international norms and standards for legislative openness and open election data.

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Building Consensus to Move Democratic Initiatives in Honduras Forward

Leaders from seven major political parties in Honduras, as well as civil society groups, attended a dinner hosted by NDI and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) on August 11, 2015, to discuss how to advance important democracy initiatives in Honduras. The event was the first time the leaders had convened in two years.

Over the past three months, Hondurans have taken to the streets to call attention to corruption and impunity in response to the latest corruption scandal involving the embezzlement of $120 million from the Honduras Social Security Institute. Unrest has been noticeable in Honduras for years, particularly after a 2009 constitutional crisis culminated in a coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya from office. Although the 2013 presidential elections helped the office of the president regain a degree of legitimacy, democracy in Honduras continues to face significant challenges. The United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) recently sent missions to the country at the request of the Honduran government to facilitate a national dialogue in order to stabilize the unrest.

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The Road Forward: Tunisia Provides an Example for Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa

Tunisian citizens protest the rise of the destabilizing trend of regionalism

Nearly five years after protests against former authoritarian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali began in December 2010, Tunisia has adopted a modern constitution and, for the first time, democratically elected a new legislature and president. Tunisia has been lauded as an inspirational -- though not untroubled -- democracy within the Middle East and North Africa region. To ensure the current security concerns and economic difficulties do not encourage undemocratic intervention in the process, it is important that the U.S. government and international community continue to support the new Tunisian government as it makes difficult choices.

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Protest Parties: What Does a Pirate or Anarcho-Surrealist Do After Being Elected?

Jon Gnarr, in his official capacity as mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland. Gnarr, a sketch comedian, was elected in 2009 on satirical platform of providing free towels at public pools, a polar bear at the zoo and a drug-free parliament by 2020.

In the last decade, a proliferation of anti-establishment parties in the Euro-Atlantic region has led to increased numbers of protest candidates elected to local, national and European office. Protest parties reject mainstream politics and incumbency, opting instead for sensational campaigns that often advocate for a single issue. Pirates in the UK or anarcho-surrealists in Iceland make for interesting debates, but what happens when candidates who reject a system become part of it? Recent examples show that citizens will vote for protest candidates to highlight “elephant-in-the-room” issues, but in the long run candidates need to be able to deliver on critical issues to maintain support.

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Building International Standards for Parliamentary Ethics

Photo Credit: Dan Mason

While the international community of parliaments and parliamentary support organizations has successfully developed international standards or benchmarks for the institution of parliament, far less attention has been dedicated to developing standards for the ethical conduct of individual members. To help fill this gap and to start a global conversation, members of the Open Government Partnership’s Legislative Openness Working Group have drafted Common Ethical Principles for Members of Parliament.

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Testing City Limits: Women and Urban Governance

Shari Bryan speaks on a panel on urbanization and the challenges of local government and citizen engagement in New Delhi, March 2015.

Cities, for the first time in history, are now home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population. This is an incredible demographic shift, and in their rise to prominence, urban centers have begun to shape national and global-level discussions. After all, there are now megacities in Asia and Latin America with larger populations than some European countries. These megacities drive more than 70 percent of the world’s economic activity, and some of their local governments are acting across national borders to strike their own trade deals and address climate change issues.

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