To strengthen New Zealand’s democracy and promote collaborative nation-building

Hui E! Proposal 1

 To strengthen New Zealand’s democracy and promote collaborative nation-building by establishing a regular jointly co-chaired forum of leaders from civil society and government (elected and official) to discuss, give feedback and make recommendations, including on planned policy development work, legislative changes being explored, and other matters that affect civil society and the civil society-government relationship. Participants should be funded, which includes their responsibility to report back to networks and communities. Government and civil society will each have their own systems for selection of representatives, and these will be open and dynamic, identifying people who bring a broad perspective and a commitment to OGP.

Regular forums for dialogue between government and civil society have been established in over 40 OGP member countries, and we can benefit from the experiences of these, while creating a version that works for Aotearoa New Zealand. In New Zealand, this type of forum already exists between central government and local government, with Iwi leaders, and with church leaders.

This proposal addresses the OGP Values of: Transparency, access to information, civic participation, and improving public accountability.

The term “Civil Society”

In this proposal we use the term ‘civil society’ because the term is used in the majority of countries in the world, by the United Nations and by the OGP in their statements and publications. The term reinforces the sector’s legal independence and rights, including freedoms of assembly and association, freedom to form associations in the ways participants decide, and freedom to express their perspective on issues without fear. The term ‘community and voluntary sector’ is common in New Zealand but it lacks definition and the context of internationally recognised rights.

CIVICUS world alliance for citizen participation, of which Hui E! is a member, defines civil society as ‘the arena, outside of the family, the state and the market, which is created by individual and collective actions, organisations and institutions to advance shared interests’. ‘Civil society therefore encompasses civil society organisations (CSOs) and also less formalised groups and individuals”. 

Why the contribution is important

This proposal has been accorded highest priority among 12 established through a series of forums of civil society organisations.

The quality of NZ's democracy is an issue underlying a whole series of difficult problems that NZ faces at this time.

by DaveHenderson on August 22, 2016 at 05:36PM

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  • Posted by carolh August 24, 2016 at 09:37

    I agree that there are more ways of involving the community in decisions and this sounds like an interesting idea. I think the social policy forum that was proposed for Auckland when the councils were amalgamated was along these lines but it didn't seem to get very far.

    Funding civil participation is also an interesting point. I work within health and we fund or reimburse lay people to sit alongside clinicians and health managers and participate in advisory or governance groups (and within some of our board committees) to ensure that the community perspective is considered during decision-making processes. I'm not aware of this happening in many other sectors so would be interested to hear if it does.
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