OGP to Skip 2014 Summit, According to SC Minutes

2 December 2013

The Open Government Partnership won’t hold its next summit until 2015, according to the recently published minutes of the Oct. 29 London meeting of the Steering Committee.

The minutes summarize an inconclusive debate on a proposal to “set up a short-term, internal OGP task force on the issue of safeguarding civic space.” (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Civil society Steering Committee member Alejandro Gonzalez outlined the rationale for such a task force and emphasized that it would have a limited mandate, the minutes state. The task force was to report back to the full steering committee in March 2014.

“Although most SC members agreed that OGP should find ways to address the issue of safeguarding civic space in OGP countries, there were differing opinions on the best way to go about it,” according to the minutes, without indicating those who voiced reservations. “Some members felt that the SC should work within existing Steering Committee structures rather than setting up a special task force to address this issue.  Others felt they had not had sufficient time to consider the proposal in advance of the meeting.”

“Several members stressed the urgency of the issue,” according to the minutes. “Others noted that the issue required a response, given threats to civic space in some OGP countries that could undermine the credibility of OGP and viability of its partnership model.

“The SC could not reach firm agreement on the task force, and discussion closed without a resolution,” the minutes say.

“The civil society members of the SC agreed to continue the discussion on the issue and consider alternative ways of addressing the shared concern, the section concludes.

The minutes also include a discussion of the independent review mechanism and the continued hunt for an improved financing system.

No Indonesian Summit 

The Government of Indonesia, as incoming lead chair, presented a draft calendar at meeting. The minutes summarize:

The first set of events will be in mid-March in Indonesia and will include a ministerial SC meeting, an Asia regional meeting, and an “Open Up Asia” event being organized by Omidyar Network.  In mid-June, it is likely that Mexico, as OGP co-chair, will host a working-level SC meeting in conjunction with a possible regional meeting for Latin America (dates TBC).  Indonesia reminded SC members that OGP will shift to a biannual (vs. annual) global OGP Summit, partly due to the fact that Indonesia has both legislative and presidential elections in 2014.  Instead of a global Summit in 2014, OGP hopes to convene a second ministerial SC meeting and a head of state-level OGP event on the margins of UNGA next September in New York.

The second lead co-chairman, Brazil, hosted the first summit in Brazilia in 2012. The second summit was held Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in London, hosted by the United Kingdom.

Regarding funding, Support Unit Executive Director Linda Frey introduced Purnima Chawla and Ravi Singh of the Center for Non-Profit Strategies “who will be working with the Support Unit to analyze various options and present a set of concrete recommendations for discussion by the Steering Committee in March.”

The minutes stated that “several members emphasized the importance of moving quickly to resolve these issues.  At least one country has linked the increase in their funding from 2014 to a new model with mandatory annual contributions from all countries from 2014.”

The SU Executive Director summarized recent contributions and said the Support Unit is on target to secure the necessary revenues to fund the 2013 budget if two unnamed countries contribute and that spending is also on target.

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