Georgia is the OGP Chair

21616558_1552939088096529_9080080355516274532_nOn September 19, 2017, at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly,the official meeting of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Steering Committee took place. At the meeting, the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili officially took over the OGP chairmanship from the French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am deeply honored and privileged to be among the hosts of this important gathering. Speaking to you today as an incoming chair of the most powerful global movement for openness and democracy. Throughout our OGP journey we have partnered with many of you and we have followed good practices or shared our success stories with different stakeholders. I am thrilled to witness the results of the OGP countries illustrating across the globe  openness and willingness of people to control their governments and yet we have many lessons to learn – not only from each other or the civil society organizations, but also from journalists, entrepreneursm, start ups, who have knowledge of details that matter the most to achieve excellence in good governance. Hence, I welcome all of them and we are honored to have these people participating in today’s event. Notwithstanding the success, the theme of today’s gathering is rebuilding trust in governance – an issue that requires a long term strategy to tackle. I encourage all of you to use this time to exchange collective reflections on how democracy can be reinvented. I would like to express our commitment to continue efforts of France to strengthen OGP and I would like to thank our French friends and colleagues for their efforts. Exactly a year ago, we met and discussed the vision on questions such as how do we plan for the next year to ensure that we deliver transformational impact in the lives of citizens. Ensure of cooperation and citizens’ involvement; promotion of transparency and fight against corruption; – these are the core issues that we are going to work on in the period of our chairmanship” – stated the Prime Minister. Furthermore, Giorgi Kvirikashvili remarked that as the chair of Open Government Partnership (OGP), Georgia will ensure deeper cooperation between OGP member states and will maximally promote strengthening of position of OGP and popularization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the meeting, the civil society was presented by Mukelani Dimba, the Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Center (ODAC), who, along with Georgia, was elected as a chair of the OGP.

“I would like to speak to you as an ordinary citizen would – a person that does not have an opportunity to attend such events and speak openly about the expectations he has from the government. Today, we have gathered here to discuss the best ways of rebuilding citizens’ trust towards their governments. Along with the Government of Georgia, we are planning to actively work on the aforementioned topic and we encourage OGP member states to ensure and promote implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We encourage the member states to elaborate their national action plans in a manner that serves implementation of good governance, improves social and econimic conditions and ensures access to justice” – stated Mukelani Dimba.

It is noteworthy that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) meeting was also attended by the civil society representatives, including Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the member of the Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). “Becoming a chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a logical outcome of our country’s success. Georgia was one of the first countries to join OGP in 2011 and since then has been actively trying to implement the partnership’s values in the country’s executive, legislative and local governments. I would like to congratulate the Georgian people and all organizations that are part of this process!” – said Giorgi Kldiashvili.

You can view the complete video of the Steering Committee meeting here.

Another meeting of the OGP Steering Committee was held in New York on September 20, 2017. The meeting was attended by the Governments of Canada, Chile, France and Italy.Georgian delegation consisted of Tea Tsulukiani, the Minister of Justice of Georgia and Zurab Sanikidze, the Director of the Analytical Depratment of the Ministry of Jusrice of Georgia. As for Georgian civil sector, it was represented by Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). The Minister of Justice informed the Committee members that Georgia will host the Open Government Partnership Global Summit next summer. Furthermore, the Minister thanked France and other representatives of governments for voting for Georgia in the OGP elections.

21617551_1397231673658743_7795122375716804049_nThe following issues were discussed at September 20 meeting:

– The Steering Committee’s role in advancing OGP’s Strategic Refresh;

– Presentation of new lead co-chairs and priorities for co-chairmanship year;

-OGP country performance check-in.

Complete agenda of September 20 meeting is available at this link.

 

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Georgia to Become OGP Chair

ogp_logoThe official meeting of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Steering Committee is planned to be heldon September 19, 2017, at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly. At this meeting, the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili will officially take over the OGP chairmanship from the French President Emmanuel Macron. The Prime Minister will also share Georgia’s vision as a chair of the Open Government Partnership.

Within its term as the OGP chair country, lasting from October 1, 2017 to  October 1, 2018, Georgia will work to guide OGP activities of and will host the Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit in the second half of 2018.

Georgia became a member of the OGP Steering Committee in August 2014. In May 2016, the country, along with France, became the co-chair of the Partnership. Becoming the OGP chair is a result of successful efforts of the Georgian public and civil sectors towards cooperation, forming of a democratic society, and ensuring accessibility and transparency of information. Also at the event, Mukelani Dimba, Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Center (ODAC), shall become the co-chair of OGP.

In preparation for the event, the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili published an open letter titled Getting Things Done for the People, with the People – on the OGP official website.

“Georgia is a small country with a not-so-long history of independence. But it has a solid record of accomplishment with reforms that have changed the way citizens interact with the government. OGP success stories have unlocked new opportunities, not only at the national but also international levels. It is our government’s honor to be trusted to serve as the next chair of OGP and contribute to a future for a powerful global movement for openness and deeper democracies. Now is a remarkable time for the Partnership and we will work with our partner countries and civil society to ensure people’s opportunity to influence government decisions that affect their daily lives.” – the letter reads.

Giorgi Kvirikashvili also defined the main vision and goals of Georgia for its term as chair of OGP, namely:

– Strengthening co-creation and citizen engagement;

– Ensuring citizen oriented governance;

– Ensuring transparency and combating corruption;

– Generating innovation in public service delivery.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched on September 20, 2011 at theUN General Assembly Meeting by the Presidents of USA and Brazil. As of today, it is composed of 75 member countries. The Partnership is a multilateral international initiative that aims to fight corruption, secure transparency, effectiveness and accountability of governments and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

In order to accomplish thesegoals and oversee the Partnership’s activities, a Steering Committee was formed, which is composed of government and civil society representatives. With the help of subcommittees and thematic groups, the Steering Committee provides guidance and main directions of OGP. It also supervises the fulfillment of commitments undertaken by member states and generally controls the proper functioning of OGP.

The Steering Committee is governed by a Chair, Deputy Chair and two representatives of civil society. Georgia joined OGP in 2011 and presented its first Action Plan (2012-2013) in 2012. Since then, with active involvement of civil society representatives, the country has been actively supporting the implementation of fundamental OGP principles. As of today, Georgia is implementing its third Action Plan (2016-2017).

One of Georgia’s initiatives within the framework of OGP was the creation of the Open Government Georgia’s Forum, which oversees OGP related activities carried out by the Georgian government and facilitates cooperation with civil society. The Forum is a permanent coordination mechanism and ensures dialogue and cooperation between state institutions and civil society representatives. The Forum is co-chaired by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

One of Georgia’s successes within the framework of OGP was the fact that in June 2017, Giorgi Kldiashvili, Director of IDFI, was selected as a new member representing civil society in the OGP Steering Committee. Kldiashvili was nominated as the Steering Committee member by Niels Scott, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, while endorsement letters were sent by Veronica Cretu, President of Open Government Institute Moldova and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2013-2016, and Tom Blanton, Director of National Security Archive at George Washington University and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2011-2013.

“IDFI’s efforts helped to bring OGP to a greater level in Georgia and goes without saying that Mr. Kldiashvili’s role in this process has been critical. Giorgi Kldiashvili is one of the biggest OGP advocates not only in Georgia but also in Europe, Asia and Pacific regions. As the co-chair of the OGP Georgia Forum, chair of the Open Parliament Working Group and member of the National Anti-Corruption Council, Giorgi is one of the leading civil society activists advocating for transparency, accountability and governance reform. He has demonstrated a rare ability to be involved in the co-creation process with public institutions while at the same time provide effective oversight over their commitments. Giorgi is one of the few civil society representatives providing leadership as well as daily substantive input to the open government process in Georgia. Transparency and accountability in various sectors are highly important for Mr. Kldiashvili….The background, expertise, leadership and advocacy experience make Mr. Kldiashvili an excellent candidate for the position of OGP Steering Committee Member.” – states Niels Scott in his letter.

 

Meeting of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and Its Consultative Group

20479768_1507741055949666_2578013831387649745_nOn August 2, 2017, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) organized a meeting of  the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and its Consultative Group.  The aim of the meeting was to define and approve new dates for implementation of commitments under the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018.

IDFI also presented draft amendments to the Order of the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia on Standards for Proactive Disclosure and Electronical Request of the Public Information that was elaborated in cooperation with the representatitves of civil society and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Parliament of Georgia, including:

– Irina Pruidze – Chairperson of the Council

– Eka Beselia – Chairperson of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament

– Kakhaber Kutchava – Chairperson of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament

Representatives of civil society and international organizations were also presented at the meeting:

– United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

– Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

– GIZ Georgia

– Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

– Transparency International Georgia (TI)

Definition of new implementation dates for  commitments under the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action plan was requested by theOpen Government Partnership (OGP) and aims to include the parliamentary openness related commitments in the National Action Plan of Georgia and monitor and oversee activities carried out by the Government of Georgia within the scope of OGP.

According to Irina Pruidze, in order to make the Parliament of Georgia an integral part of Open Government,  it is necessary to unify the Parliamentary Openness Action Plan with the National Action Plan of Georgia. She also stated that since implementation dates of various commitments do not correspond with the implementation dates of commitments defined by the National Action Plan, it is important to divide the Open Parliament Action Plan so that part of the commitments are due to be implemented in 2017, and  the rest in 2018.

Parties present at the meeting unanimously agreed to start the elaboration of the Open Parliament Georgia 2018-2019 Action Plan. This Action Plan shall include commitments taken from the Action Plan 2017-2018, as well as new commitments that will be jointly elaborated by the Council and its Consultative Group. 

The following commitments shall be implemented in 2018:

– Elaboration and testing of the petition system, as well as launch of the platform;

– Elaboration of electronic signature mechanism for the legislative initiatives on the website of the Parliament;

– Adaption of the rules and procedure for public consultation in legislative processes;

– Launch of feedback mechanism for comments left by citizens on draft laws available on the website of the Parliament;

– Piloting of the system for provision of people with disabilities with the services offered by the Parliament;

– Raising of public awareness about OGP;

– Review and adoption of the Civil Society Organizations Development Concept;

– Preparation and publication of the information on the annual parliamentary activities on the website of the Parliament;

– Visualization of amendments made to the initial version of draft laws and their publication on the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of the self-assessment tool of the Parliament and adoption of the relevant changes to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament;

– Implementation of the self-assessment tool of the Parliament;

– Technical elaboration of the concept on electronic submission and monitoring of December 10 Reports and provision of its availability on the website of the Parliament;

– Improvement of the voting results portal on the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of the updated structure of the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of new template of the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of unified system for management of the website of the Parliament.

The new dates for implementation of the above commitments are available here link.

Draft amendment to the Order of the Parliament Chairperson elaborated by IDFI aims to ensure implementation of Commitment 2.1 (“Expanding the list of public information proactively disclosed on the Parliamentary website”) and Commitment 2.4 (“Timely Disclosure of information related to Review of Reports and Committee Hearings of Individuals Elected by the Parliament, Preparation and Disclosure of Relevant Video Protocol on the Parliamentary Website”) of the Open Parliament Action Plan 2017-2018. Parties presented at the meeting reviewed the draft amendment and agreed to improve its content within the scope of parliamentary working groups.

In order to implement the commitments defined by the Open Parliament 2017-2018 Action Plan, working groups consisting of MPs and CSOs have been established. These working groups work towards elaborating relevant draft laws that are necessary for successful implementation of the commitments. For example, according to Irina Pruidze, the Code of Ethics working group had already held a number of meetings and elaborated the final draft of the Code that shall be presented to the Parliament in September 2017.

Parties presented at the meeting unanimously voted for the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia to become the member of the Consultative Group. According to Ekaterine Popkhadze, Parliamentary Secretary of the Public Defender’s Office, the Office will actively participate in elaboration and implementation of the Action Plan and will ensure establishment of Parlimentary openness and OGP principles in Georgia.

The meeting was held within the project “Strengthening the System of  Parliamentary Democracy in  Georgia” that is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP in cooperation with IDFI.

IDFI’s Executive Director Selected as Member of the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee

IDFI’s Executive Director Giorgi Kldiashvili was selected as a new member representing civil society in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee (SC) – the executive, decision-making body that develops, promotes and safeguards the values, principles and interests of OGP. The SC consists of 22 members – 11 from government and 11 from civil society. The standard term of a SC member is three years – with the possibility of a one-term renewal.

Kldiashvili was nominated as the SC member by Niels Scott, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, while endorsement letters were sent by Veronica Cretu, President of Open Government Institute Moldova and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2013-2016, and Tom Blanton, Director of National Security Archive at George Washington University and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2011-2013.

The nomination letter by Niels Scott reads:

“IDFI’s efforts helped to bring OGP to a greater level in Georgia and goes without saying that Mr. Kldiashvili’s role in this process has been critical.

Giorgi Kldiashvili is one of the biggest OGP advocates not only in Georgia but also in Europe, Asia and Pacific regions. As the co-chair of the OGP Georgia Forum, chair of the Open Parliament Working Group and member of the National Anti-Corruption Council, Giorgi is one of the leading civil society activists advocating for transparency, accountability and governance reform.

He has demonstrated a rare ability to be involved in the co-creation process with public institutions while at the same time provide effective oversight over their commitments. Giorgi is one of the few civil society representatives providing leadership as well as daily substantive input to the open government process in Georgia.

Transparency and accountability in various sectors are highly important for Mr. Kldiashvili….The background, expertise, leadership and advocacy experience make Mr. Kldiashvili an excellent candidate for the position of OGP Steering Committee Member.”

The selection committee had a challenging task of arriving from 29 accomplished and motivated civil society candidates to a shortlist of 10 candidates, striking a balance between individual experience and expertise, diversity, and regional balance vis-a-vis the composition of the Steering Committee as a whole.

Members of the selection committee consisted of two volunteers from the community, current members of the Steering Committee and the Support Unit – Undral Gombodorj (Director, Democracy Education Center, Mongolia), Laura Neuman (Director, Global Access to Information Program, The Carter Center, United States), Mukelani Dimba (OGP Steering Committee), Aidan Eyakuze (OGP Steering Committee) and Paul Maassen (OGP Support Unit) – started the process by looking at the submitted paperwork to individually rank each of the candidates using three criteria: leadership, working across stakeholders, and ability to read and represent the interests of civil society.

Nomination and selection process

This exercise gave an initial insight into the candidate’s’ ability to engage strategically at the highest political level – the level the OGP Steering Committee works at – and to represent the interests of a civil society community across national, regional, and global levels. The selection committee members also assessed the candidate’s track record of working on open government and related cross-cutting themes, as well as engagement with open government networks.

At the end of the process, 2 persons were selected to join the OGP Steering Committee this year – Giorgi Kldiashvili and Tur-Od Lkhagvajav (Mongolia) – one to fill a vacant seat in June (Tur-Od Lkhagvajav) and the other (Giorgi Kldiashvili) to join with the new government counterparts on the Steering Committee in October.

Civil Society members of the OGP Steering Committee have  the responsibility to perform the international governance role for OGP in the Steering Committee and to represent the concerns and interests of the international OGP civil society community in the Steering Committee.

According to Giorgi Kldiashvili,

“Joining the OGP Steering Committee is a great opportunity and the responsibility for me, especially now when Georgia is to serve as a chair country of OGP Steering Committee. I would also like to say many thanks to all who referenced me for this job and I do hope that by sharing my skills and experience, I will significantly contribute to strengthen OGP at the global, regional and national level.”

Civil Society Organizations leave Mexico’s National OGP Platform

DAmTKtAXsAAufpbMexico is one of the founders of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The Mexican government and civil society organizations (CSOs) played an important role in furthering the OGP via successful reforms and awareness-raising on regional and international levels. In 2015, Mexico hosted an OGP global summit. Mexican reformers were a source of inspiration for many governments to fight societal problems with reforms through the OGP framework.

Today, the exemplary member of OGP faces severe challenges. One of the fundamental principles of this partnership – cooperation between government and civil society – was violated in Mexico. The government of Mexico, despite having implemented high standards of OGP, could not maintain progress, which endangers the open governance process in this country as well as every other state involved in the partnership.

On May 24, 2017, Mexican civil society organizations left the country’s OGP national platform. The reason for this decision was a report by an organization Citizen Lab that documented illegal surveillance of famous researches and public health advocates by the Mexican government. OGP member CSOs expressed their concern that the illegal surveillance of journalists, representatives of civil society, and activists was an ongoing practice in Mexico.

The incident took place in February 2017, after which CSOs demanded from the government (Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection – IFAI) and other members of the national OGP platform, to take effective countermeasures. However, the Mexican government refused to respond for next three months.

OGP member CSOs unanimously decided to leave the national platform. In a letter to their partners, they stated that the national platform lacked the conditions for cooperation and dialogue, and that the continuation of the CSOs presence in the OGP mechanism and in the implementation process of the Mexican Third Action Plan was impossible. In addition to ignoring the issue of illegal surveillance, the organizations stated that political will for successful implementation of the Action Plan did not exist, because the government tries to modify and shorten previously agreed obligations.

The Mexican example proves how a country, exemplary in fighting corruption and implementing OGP, can find itself facing serious challenges due to inaction of the government. It is important that during this challenge all OGP countries maintain active involvement, and support democratic processes in Mexico, to avoid the weakening of implementation of OGP.

Mexican OGP Technical Tripartite Secretariat (STT) directs Open Government processes and makes related decisions. The Secretariat consists of three branches: one representative from government (Coordination of the National Digital Strategy), one from civil society (Transparencia Mexicana), and one from the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI). The NGO’s participated in the creation of all three Mexican Action Plans.

 

Open Government Partnership statement on domestic OGP developments in Mexico – https://www.opengovpartnership.org/stories/open-government-partnership-statement-on-domestic-ogp-developments-mexico