ONE today welcomed the launch by President Obama of the Open Government Partnership in New York, where eight world leaders made commitments on a range of issues that will help drive the development of African countries. These include the transparency of aid, natural resource revenues and budgets in developing countries.
Speaking from New York, ONE's Executive Director Jamie Drummond said:
"Transparency gives ordinary citizens the information they need to hold leaders accountable and demand improvement in the delivery of essential public services such as health and education. In many African countries with scarce resources this can mean the difference between life and death."
Key developments today included:
President Obama gave global efforts to improve extractive transparency a boost by telling world leaders that the US would build on the legislation passed last year to oblige all oil, gas and mining companies to disclose the payments they make to governments, and join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. This adds to the political pressure on the European Union to at least match the US when it publishes proposals for an extractive transparency law in the coming months.
Norway included a commitment to consider making companies publish information about the taxes they pay, on a country-by-country basis. If implemented, this will make them global leaders on corporate transparency.
The US and the UK made strong commitments to improve the transparency of their international aid. For example the UK pledged that every government department which contributes overseas aid will have to publish their information in line with new international standards.
"On transparency about natural resource revenues the US has again shown global leadership. For too long the most autocratic regimes have used Western countries' failure to practice what they preach on extractives transparency as a reason to ignore it themselves. The US commitment will remove that excuse."
Efforts to tackle corruption also feature heavily in many of the plans, including those of Brazil,Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa.
"Brazil, Mexico and South Africa proved again today that they are leaders amongst emerging economies on domestic transparency. Now they have an opportunity to be global leaders. Mexico needs to place transparency and accountability at the heart of its G20 next year and lead a coordinated effort to bring about a global standard on ensuring all revenues from extractive industry companies are published.
"Brazil will host the next Open Government Partnership meeting and should ensure international transparency commitments which can empower citizens in poor countries are high on the agenda.
"And South Africa, as host to many mining companies operating in Africa, should pass their own law requiring oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay."
Notes to editors
ONE is an advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease around the world, particularly in Africa. Backed by more than 2.5 million members, we work with world leaders to support proven, cost-effective solutions to save lives and build sustainable futures. For more information please visit www.ONE.org and follow us on Twitter: @ONECampaign
At the OGP launch, the founding governments - Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States - endorsed an Open Government Declaration and announced national action plans. The founding governments were also be joined by another 38 governments, including Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, who committed to developing and delivering their action plans at a follow up meeting in March 2012 in Brazil.
In July 2010, the United States passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which included a crucial provision requiring extractive industry companies to publish the payments they make to governments of the countries in which they operate (Section 1504). Since then, ONE has been working with the Publish What You Pay coalition to try and push other G20 countries to adopt similar legislation that goes at least as far.