OGP Meeting Winds Up; Consultation Plans Sought

8 December 2011

The two-day Open Government Partnership meeting in Brazil concluded Dec. 8 with a request from the Brazilian co-chairman for new OGP members to submit plans for civil society consultation by late January.

The request came from Minister of State Jorge Hage and was reported in Twitter feeds from persons attending the meeting. Brazil co-chairs the multilateral initiative along with the United States.

Under the OGP, the members agree to “make concrete commitments as part of a country action plan that stretches the country beyond current practice.”  The eight founding members have already produced their action plans, but the other 42 members are to submit them at the next OGP meeting, April 16-18, also in Brazil. (For the 30 plus previous FreedomInfo.org articles on the OGP, see here.)

Civic consultation in the creation of national action plans has always been an OGP goal, described in guidance on the OGP website. The new countries reported orally on their efforts at the Dec. 7-8 meeting.

The interim reporting request is a new one and no further details were available, but appears designed to underline the importance of civil engagement. Consultation efforts in some countries have been critcized by local groups.

Hage also asked that the commitments in the actions plans be objective and specific, according to an OGP tweet. The session at which Hage spoke was closed to press coverage, as were all sessions Dec. 8 and most Dec. 7. 

Steering Committee Elections Planned

Members of the Steering Committee, who met all day Dec. 6, were to report on future directions to the conference on Dec. 8. Only a few hints of their deliberations have emerged in tweets and in emails with persons present.

Internal governance was to be a major topic for the committee, which is unusual — made up of representatives from the nine civil society organizations and eight countries who spearheaded the founding of the group.  India was an original member, but later decided to drop out.

Apparently the committee has decided that committee members will be elected by their own caucuses and serve three year terms. Unclear is whether the NGO representatives will have leadership roles within the unusual committee.

 

Unclear is what position, if any, the Steering Committee as a whole or its CSO members took on calls to criticize South Africa, a steering committee member, for moving to pass legislation that critics say will impede transparency.

 

The Right to Know Coalition in South Africa said in a tweet Dec. 9 that had asked the OGP to request a report from the South African government on how secrecy bill concerns were being addressed, and to suspect South Africa from the OGP if

 

The tweet said:

R2K wrote to @opengovpart asking for #OGP to get reports from SA on how #secrecybill concerns being addressed, & suspend SA if not addressed

 

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