By Sandro Rochikashvili
Several important news appeared in the month of November for anyone interested in the progress of the Open Government Partnership. First of all, OGP expanded and now includes 58 countries, welcoming Argentina as the latest member to declare its commitment to the values of transparency and openness.
Particular emphasis this past month has been made on receiving feedback from the public. Summaries of public comments both on the Strategic Plan and the Independent Reporting Mechanism Concept Note have been published on the official website of the Partnership. According to the information, these comments helped greatly in revising the plans before the upcoming Steering Committee Meeting on December 4, 2012 in London.
Public comments on the Strategic Plan raised several issues and problems. A point raised consistently was the fact that it is unclear how exactly the Partnership can ensure that the member countries deliver their action plans and meet their commitments. While Open Government Partnership is an important international initiative, there are almost no consequences for failing to meet the standards of transparency and openness by the member countries evident in the current version of the Strategic Plan. A common concern is that countries might join the Partnership because of the obvious political benefits, such as positive publicity, while suffering no negative repercussions if they do not act on the commitments and the public fails to see any significant improvement.
Emphasis was also made on the engagement of CSOs and Mass-Media for facilitating cooperation with the government while at the same time giving the non-governmental stakeholders levers that can be used in case no progress is made and the government ignores its duty and commitments.
Meanwhile, five countries either delivered their action plans or reported the progress in their creation. Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Ghana, Liberia and Mongolia missed the April deadline. The former two submitted their action plans recently and they were posted on the OGP official page this month, while the action plans of Ghana, Liberia and Mongolia are still in different stages of development.
November 30 marked the formal launch of the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM). The IRM will be overseen by an 8-member Independent Expert Panel (IEP), and three of those were announced on the same day. Ireland’s first female President and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mary Robinson, Sudanese-born entrepreneur, Dr Mo Ibrahim, and Mozambican politician and wife of Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, have been confirmed as the three senior advisors of the IEP.
As mentioned above, the Steering Committee will meet on December 4 in London. The meeting will reveal the changes that have been made in the OGP strategic plan as a result of the public comments and future plans of the initiative for 2013.