OGP Issues Invitation for CSO Participation in April Meeting

6 January 2012

The Open Government Partnership has invited applications from civil society organizations (CSOs) for participation in the OGP April meeting in Brazil.

The OGP has clarified that contrary to earlier indications,  the CSO representatives, possibly more than 100, will be allowed to participate in all sessions at the meeting.

In addition, the OGP has issued guidance for CSOs on how to engage governments on their OGP participation, which includes an obligation to hold consultations for the preparation of the national action plans that are due by the April 16-18 meeting.

There are 50 government members of the OGP, a multilateral, by-invitation effort officially launched in September 2011 to encourage greater national commitment to a broad range of pro-transparency endeavors. The OGP is governed by a 17 member steering committee with both CSO and government members.  The call for CSO attendance at the major April meeting represents an effort at greater inclusiveness. Plans are under development for CSOs to elect the CSO members on the steering committee.

(For all previous FreedomInfo.org articles on the OGP, see here.)

Call for April Meeting Applications

The OGP asked for applications  from both local civil society groups and international groups to attend the April meeting to be submitted by Feb. 6.

The organization suggested that if more than one CSO wants to come from each of the 50 member countries they should try to work it out among themselves.

The OGP has indicated that it can pay for about 50 CSO representatives to attend the meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, and has opened the door for 50-70 others to self-finance their own attendance.

“Wherever possible, OGP is seeking to have local civil society in each OGP country select their representative to the April 2012 conference themselves, rather than OGP picking the candidate. OGP will privilege applications from civil society representatives that can demonstrate an established track record of active engagement in the open government field, and the endorsement of fellow local civil society colleagues to attend the April 2012.”

If  local civil society cannot come to agreement on a common delegate to attend, “the OGP Support Unit will do its best to recommend the candidate from that country whose application demonstrates the most experience and strongest civil society networks in the open government field.”

After nominations are reviewed/vetted by the OGP support unit for completeness, they will be forwarded to a sub-group of the Steering Committee, comprised of both government and civil society representatives, for decision. “In making its decision diversity and balance shall also be considered,” the OGP said.

Groups are asked to provide a cover letter, a list of organizations endorsing their application and information about their group.

“All applications will be made public to ensure that local civil society are able to verify their endorsement of particular candidates where applicable.

International CSOs are asked for similar information.

A broad description of how CSOs can get involved is posted on the OGP website.

Open Meeting Planned

Recent minutes from the Steering Committee suggested that only about half of the April meeting would be open to the CSO participants.

But an OGP staff member told FreedomInfo.org that the whole meeting will be open to CSO representatives and journalists, subject to space considerations.

The minutes had stated: “There will be one large conference with all stakeholders, and a second event on a separate day where high-level leaders from the new OGP countries will announce their country action plans,” according to the minutes.

 

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