An International Open Gov Partnership
- Tuesday, 18 October 2011
One Year Ago
On Sept. 23 2010, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Barack Obama called for “specific commitments to promote transparency.” His proposal came after he spoke about the need for open societies, open government, and accountability: “In all parts of the world, we see the promise of innovation to make government more open and accountable. And now, we must build on that progress. And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency; to fight corruption; to energize civic engagement; to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries, while living up to the ideals that can light the world.”
“Civil society is the conscience of our communities and America will always extend our engagement abroad with citizens beyond the halls of government. And we will call out those who suppress ideas and serve as a voice for those who are voiceless. We will promote new tools of communication so people are empowered to connect with one another and, in repressive societies, to do so with security. We will support a free and open Internet, so individuals have the information to make up their own minds. And it is time to embrace and effectively monitor norms that advance the rights of civil society and guarantee its expansion within and across borders.”
This gave rise to the Open Government Partnership; an international initiative in the goal of improving governance through regional and global political commitments and implement reforms that will enhance transparency, abate corruption, and strengthen mechanisms of democratic accountability.
Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the UK and the USA – the countries on the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership – now published their Action Plans. They contain a wide range of exciting measures to enhance transparency and accountability and to make governments more open and responsive to their citizens. Efforts to tackle corruption feature heavily in many of the plans, including those of Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa. Initiatives to enhance budget transparency and to improve the delivery of public services feature in the plans of Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa. And welcome moves to enhance aid transparency feature in the plans of the UK and the USA. On transparency about natural resource revenues, Norway has signaled a commitment to consider passing legislation that would require multinationals to publish tax information on a country by country basis. And by signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the USA has continued the leadership it showed last year in passing legislation on extractives transparency.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) looks set to be an important forum for sharing experience, encouraging and assisting governments to become more open. Africa’s involvement is currently limited with just three African countries – Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania – joining South Africa within the OGP. However, the partnership has great relevance for Africa and for ONE: the ability of African citizens to hold their governments to account is shaped by the actions of the USA, the EU and other countries that provide aid to Africa and whose companies operate in Africa; African governments can share experience with other emerging economies as regards transparency and accountability; and, over time, we hope that many more African countries will choose to take the path towards more open, transparent and accountable government.