Commitments to plain language around the world
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an organization of reformers working to transform how government serves its citizens. Its main goal is to promote transparent, participatory, inclusive, and accountable governance. Currently 77 countries, 76 local governments, and thousands of civil society organizations are members of the OGP.
A number of countries in Europe and the Americas have defined plain language as a powerful tool to achieve more transparency, participation, inclusiveness, and accountability in governance. These countries have made commitments in their national OGP action plans. Thirty-six commitments mention “plain language”, “clear language”, “accessible language”, or their Spanish equivalents. Most focus on making legislation, regulation, or administrative documents and forms publicly available in a plain language format. Some commitments are broad, applied to government documentation in general, while others are specific to sectors.
Here are some examples of commitments:
Chile, 2016: “Energy Sector Watch”
Chile committed to making information about the energy sector, including data, statistics, public policy, plans, and strategy, more accessible. As part of this initiative, certain energy sector information was made available in plain language in order to better facilitate citizen engagement.
Norway, 2013: “Plain Legal Language”
Norway committed to re-examining pieces of legislation that are important to citizens and reformulating them in plain language. They also planned to create a methodology to draft new legislation or revise old legislation in plain language format. Finland also made a similar commitment in 2013.
Luxembourg, 2019: “Promotion et sensibilization de l’utilisation d’un langage administratif clair et compréhensible”
Luxembourg plans to train administration officials to use plain language in public-facing administrative documents. In the future, this training will be part of a continuing education program on clear and understandable communication for administration officials.
The Netherlands, 2020: “Implement plain language initiatives”
The Netherlands is creating a Plain Language Brigade to advocate for the publication of plain language government information. The program will help to ensure that Dutch citizens have access to clear, digitized information about public services.
Albania, 2020: “Publish accessible budget information online for citizen engagement” and “Improve reporting on public finance information”
Albania will publish accessible information about both the budget and other public finance plans in plain language.
Lithuania will provide clear and comprehensible public information about the expected benefits and costs of potentially greater-impact legislation under the government’s consideration, and underlying reasons for the specific decisions.
Find the full list of commitments related to plain language here (downloads an Excel spreadsheet).
Do you want to get involved?
If your country has already made commitments, you can make contact and ask how to contribute or advise. You find the contact details of national and local members on OGP’s web site. If your country has not made commitments yet, you could contact your national or regional authorities and start advocating, inspired by the commitments from other countries.