Using Wiki to Draft Laws
Now this story from the New York Times Magazine is what I call an innovative idea for lawmaking:
When the New Zealand police force said they were open to suggestions about how to rewrite national policing laws, they meant it. In September, they posted the 1958 Police Act online and invited Kiwis and non-Kiwis alike to visit the site and type in their own revisions to the law — extending the concept of “Wiki”-style collaborative writing from encyclopedias to democracy.
“The idea was to take something that’s inherently dry and intellectual” like law reform, explains Superintendent Hamish McCardle, who is in charge of the review, “and transfer it to something that’s cool and innovative” — like Web 2.0.
By making the Wiki open to anyone who cared to participate, the police force hoped to make it easy for international law and policing experts to weigh in, as well as those one million or so New Zealand citizens living abroad. Of course, all of that interactivity yielded its share of unconventional ideas. McCardle’s favorite is one submitted by a user who requested that the name of the police force be changed to “The New Zealand Yum-Yum Teddy Bear Strike Force Z.” That particular suggestion was quickly edited out. Other bold ideas made it into the final Wiki document, like a suggestion to increase the minimum police recruitment age to 25, since the human brain is not fully developed until then.
Despite the novelty of the Wiki process, McCardle is quick to point out that plenty of old-fashioned checks and balances are in place. The Wiki follows a traditional review process and will culminate in a document that will advise, rather than mandate, Parliament in its decisions regarding the Police Act.
I wonder whether this approach could be used in drafting treaties?