Now for Action: Governments make commitments to openness, transparency and accountability

At 7:00 New York time, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the UK and the USA –- the countries on the steering committee of the Open Government Partnership -– 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 four African countries -– Ghana, Kenya, Liberia 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.

We know that in 2012, Brazil will continue to lead the way on the open government agenda, hosting meetings of the Open Government Partnership, the Global Initiative on Fiscal Transparency and the International Anti-Corruption Conference, and perhaps joining with the USA in requiring its oil companies to publish what they pay to the governments of the countries where they operate. And we trust that Mexico will pick up the baton of transparency and accountability as it takes over the leadership of the G20 from France.

For ONE’s introduction to OGP and a link to our policy pitch see here.

Or check out ONE’s full analysis of the Country Action Plans from a development perspective