12 December 2012

Liberia: New Civil Society Network Formed

A network named and styled "Liberia Network for Legislative Openness" has been established by Civil Society Organizations working on legislative, gender, and media development issues.

The Network is in fulfillment of the global Declaration on Parliamentary Openness with a mission of advancing the culture of openness in Liberia's governance system, especially the Legislature.

The Declaration on Parliamentary Openness is a call to national parliaments, and sub-national and transnational legislative bodies, by civil society groups for increased commitments to openness that engages citizens in parliamentary work.

The Establishment Coordinator of the network, Eddie Jarwolo says Parliaments are the indispensable institutions of representative democracies around the world. Whatever their country-specific rules, their role remains to represent the people and ensure that public policy is informed by the citizens on whose lives they impact.

The Network is a conglomeration of five civil society organizations working on legislative, gender and media development issues in the country. The organizations include NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development, Developmental Media Incorporated (DMI), and Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives (LMDI). Others are, Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) and the Women NGO's Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL).

The network believes that effective parliaments shape policies and laws, which respond to the needs of citizens, and support sustainable and equitable development.

According to a release, citizens must have access to information about Legislative proceedings, legislation, and policy, and be able to engage in continual dialogue with their lawmakers.

As part of the network first activity, a study on public perception on the legislature is underway, the study will assess citizens' knowledge and understanding on the Legislature and the distinction between Legislature and government and to ascertain citizens' perceptions of whether Legislature is important, relevant, accessible, representative and generally working for the people.

The release quotes Eddie Jarwolo as saying that Network will "engage in activities to ensure that citizens understand the workings of their lawmakers which include draft legislation formulation, provide information to citizens on the legislative agenda, record legislative votes, promote civic education on legislative rules and procedures, roles and responsibilities.

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