Open World conducts professional exchanges on one or more themes for each participating country. The themes are tailored to each country and updated regularly. Below are representative themes and subthemes for the 2012 program.
RUSSIA: Accountable Governance – The Role of Legislatures
Rationale: Regional and local legislatures throughout Russia, while limited in their authority, create laws that both establish greater local governmental autonomy and provide a legal structure for basic public services at the local level. While legislative bodies in Russia do not play as large a role in their country’s governmental system as legislatures play in that of the United States, they are increasingly involved in deciding how to (a) raise and distribute revenue, and (b) settle land and property ownership issues, while taking on other governmental responsibilities that have devolved from the federal to the regional and local levels.
Also, because the Open World Leadership Center resides in the U.S. legislative branch and serves the U.S. Congress, its historical mission includes a special focus on the role of legislatures and legislators in successful democracies. Open World has a unique ability to introduce Russian legislators and legislative staff and administrators to the legislative process at the national level during their Washington, DC orientation, and to demonstrate how that process links to and affects state, county, and local legislatures. Also, numerous legislators and legislative staff across the United States have experience presenting to Open World delegations.
Target Group: Regional and local legislators, legislative staff, and administrative staff serving legislative bodies at all levels of government.
UKRAINE: Rule of Law – Judicial Independence
Rationale: Although progress has been made in recent years toward establishing the legal basis for an independent judiciary in Ukraine, clear hurdles remain to separating the judicial branch from the executive branch and establishing a genuinely independent judiciary. Concepts like judicial independence, the adversarial process, equal protection, and equal access to justice are still nascent in Ukraine. In addition, information about judicial qualification processes, judicial training, and effective ways of fighting judicial corruption and white-collar crime would be timely and useful. Open World’s previous Ukrainian rule of law exchanges allowed judges at all levels of the Ukrainian judiciary to examine judicial practices in the United States, and this programming will continue in 2012. Delegates should explore U.S. approaches to court proceedings, the jury-trial process, the adversarial system, plea-bargaining, alternative dispute resolution, law enforcement and corrections practices, and the legislative process. Other possible topics include judicial independence, judicial ethics, juvenile justice practices, financial dispute resolution, bankruptcy proceedings, and judicial administration. Delegations should meet with federal, state, and/or (if applicable) local legislators or their staff to discuss judiciary-related legislative issues and funding.
Target Group: Most delegates for Open World’s judicial rule of law program will be judges from local courts and regional appellate courts, although some will come from national-level courts. These delegations are usually hosted by a federal or state judge in a program that emphasizes judge-to-judge activities. Other judicial delegations may be made up of judges and non-judges for exchanges focused on such issues as court management and media-judicial relations.
ARMENIA: Accountable Governance – The Role of Parliamentary Staff
Rationale: Under this theme, leading Armenian National Assembly staff will learn how congressional and state legislative staff in the United States review policy, and analyze and draft legislation. Delegates will also gain understanding of the work of congressional support agencies, and the roles of the public, academia, think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups in the legislative process. The overarching goals are to build the capacity of the staff of the Armenian National Assembly and to increase civil society’s input into legislation.
Target Group: Professional staff of the Armenian National Assembly.
GEORGIA: Social Issues – Societal Inclusivity
Rationale: Georgia’s population is made up of many different ethnic groups, including Azeris, Armenians, and Kurds, with ethnic Georgians comprising the majority. Members of the country’s minority groups often find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, and many ethnic Georgians regard them with suspicion or even outright distrust. Since gaining independence and joining international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, Georgia has gradually modernized its legal system and improved its compliance with international norms of human rights, including the protection of the human rights of ethnic minorities. More needs to be done to enable minorities to participate fully in Georgian community and economic life, including expanding Georgian-language comprehension. The U.S. program should expose participants to social-services delivery to ethnic minorities; national and community organizations dedicated to protecting civil rights; and programs for teaching English as a second language.
Target Group: NGO leaders, government officials, and legislators working in the area of societal inclusivity; leading minority-group representatives working on this issue.
KAZAKHSTAN: Accountable Governance – Environmental Leaders
Rationale: Kazakhstan faces serious environmental challenges. The Soviet era left many pollutants, including chemical and industrial waste, in both population centers and uninhabited zones. Since independence, the oil and chemical industries have also contributed to ongoing air and water pollution problems, which are exacerbated by increasing traffic congestion. In the southern part of the country, the problem of lead pollution is particularly urgent. Not only are lead ore deposits refined, but large metallurgical factories operate there as well. However, little has been done to prevent lead poisoning among the local population. A number of environmental organizations operate in Kazakhstan, but there is little financial support to begin necessary cleanup and prevention programs. The U.S. program should focus on U.S. federal, regional, and local government initiatives to undertake environmental cleanup and promote environmentally friendly practices, and on cooperative efforts involving NGOs, the private sector, and the general public.
Target Group: Regional and local legislators, government representatives, environmental NGO leaders, environmental activists, scientists, and journalists.
KYRGYZSTAN: Accountable Governance – Strengthening Regional/Local Legislatures
Rationale: Kyrgyzstan has seven regions (each with its own legislature), 25 cities and towns, and 472 rural municipalities, with each rural municipality consisting of one to 10 villages. All cities, towns, and rural municipalities have councils. The councils are generally viewed as democratic, although inexperienced, units of local self-government. The U.S. program will look at the role of legislators in governing at the city, county, and state level; how legislators respond to issues of concern to their constituents; and how legislatures interact with executive- and judicial-branch entities.
Target Group: Regional and local legislators.
MOLDOVA: Accountable Governance – Media and Government
Rationale: The Audiovisual Coordinating Council (CCA) is an autonomous public authority in Moldova tasked with supervising public and private broadcasters’ adherence to Moldovan laws and regulations. The CCA also monitors broadcasters’ regard for pluralism of opinion in their programs; encourages free competition; and protects the national language and identity. In the United States, delegates will be exposed to the work of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—including its regulation of interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable—and the adherence by national and local media outlets to FCC regulation. Delegates will also look at other ways in which broadcasters are held accountable by the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.
Target Group: CCA members, members of national and local media outlets.
TAJIKISTAN: Accountable Governance – Agricultural Diversification
Rationale: With little arable land, Tajikistan relies heavily on water-thirsty cotton crops, uses out-of-date agricultural techniques, and improperly irrigates its land. The lack of agricultural diversification in Tajikistan threatens both the soil and the economy. The delegates will learn about U.S. experience in agricultural diversification and the role of the government and the private sector in promoting diversification. The delegates should also explore land-management practices, crop rotation, and irrigation methods.
Target Group: Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, farm managers, and heads of local governments.
TURKMENISTAN: Accountable Governance – E-governance and Transparency
Rationale: Ways that governments can improve their transparency include adopting global or regional standards for legislation; publishing laws, regulations, and government decisions; and seeking public comment on proposed laws and regulations before they are put in place. In the United States, program participants will explore how e-governance informs citizens about government actions and operations, proposed legislation and regulations, and statutes, and how such direct communication helps citizens have an active voice in government decisions.
Target Group: Government leaders/administrators tasked with improving government processes in Turkmenistan.