What we want the Open Government Partnership Summit to deliver next week

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The Summit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) will be held next week in London.  The OGP is a group of 60 countries, including the US, the UK, Brazil and 6 African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa) that have made a commitment to work with civil society to promote more transparency, participation and accountability. 

The idea is that civil society and government work together to produce National Action Plans, including a number of specific commitments about what they will do to make government more transparent, more participatory, more accountable.

ONE has been an enthusiastic supporter and a constructive critic of the OGP right from the start. In 2011, we blogged about the New York launch. In 2012, we attended the OGP Summit in Brazil and sought to shape the UK’s National Action Plan, encouraging the UK Government to realise Prime Minister Cameron’s ambition of making the UK government the most transparent and open in the world. In 2013, we began to engage with African governments, encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the OGP.

For ONE, the OGP is an opportunity to drive policy change in key areas – including aid transparency, budget transparency, extractives transparency, tax and beneficial ownership transparency, and open data – and to promote a coherent development agenda and narrative about enabling citizens to follow the money.

If people can’t follow the money, then government isn’t open. If people can follow the money, they can hold governments to account and help to ensure that public monies are invested in meeting citizens’ needs and promoting socially inclusive growth, rather than being wasted and lost to corruption.

The real action takes place at country level but the London Summit can play an important role – allowing open government enthusiasts from around the world to share their insights and to learn from each other as they (and we) tackle similar challenges.

Here’s what we at ONE want to see London deliver:

  • A summit that maintains the momentum on transparency, building on the transparency wins secured at the G8 Summit back in June, looking forward to the Australian G20 Presidency and ensuring that those shaping the agenda include countries – civil society organisations as well as governments – beyond the G8 and G20;

  • An increased focus amongst members of the Open Government Partnership on what they can do to ensure that the benefits of natural resources benefit the many rather than the few, with commitments to transparency on extractives, tax and company ownership the talk of the town;

  • A strengthening of the open government movement, with more open airing of transparency’s tricky issues – questions of privacy and surveillance – and a greater emphasis on enabling citizens to follow the money;

  • Effective engagement from existing African members – Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania – with other countries from Africa (Nigeria and Uganda?), Europe (France?), Asia and Latin America also exploring the benefits of joining OGP;

  • A clear commitment by the UK’s Prime Minister, in his role as chair of the OGP, to make information about who owns and controls companies and trusts publicly accessible, and a determination to take the fight for greater transparency in this sphere to the European Union.

We’ll be working hard to see that OGP delivers on all of these fronts. Watch this space to see how it turns out.

Our campaign to crack down on phantom firms will also step up a level next week.  We can’t reveal what we’ve got planned, but dodgy dealers had better be afraid.

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