OGP Cautions 12 Countries Tardy on Their Commitments

2 December 2014

The Open Government Partnership has cautioned 12 governments that they are falling behind on their OGP responsibilities (see blog post with links to the letters).

For two countries – Turkey and Malta – the letters constitute a second warning, so an OGP subcommittee will decide what disciplinary action to take. Neither country has developed its second national action plan as of Nov. 1, four months after the deadline of July 1. The two governments in April were notified that they had missed a 2013 deadline to issue a “progress report” on compliance with their first action plans.

The initial warning to Turkey came after extensive OGP efforts, beginning in late 2013, to contact and work with the Turkish government, often without prompt replies, according to the correspondence, which was provided to FreedomInfo.org some months ago in response to a request under the OGP disclosure policy.

Turkish official Engin Kucet on Jan. 29 cited 10 months of internal confusion about who would coordinate OGP matters as the main reason for the delay and said Turkey was committed to the OGP. As signs continued in early 2014 that Turkey was making no progress on an action plan, OGP officials continued their outreach, again finding it hard to reach Kucet, who in June apologized, blaming health problems and the Turkish mine disaster as the reasons for delay.

First Warnings to 10 Countries

Letters were sent to 10 countries that have not submitted their action plans within four months of the July 1 due date, the OGP also announced.

  1. Australia
  2. Colombia
  3. Italy
  4. Kenya
  5. Latvia
  6. Malawi
  7. Montenegro
  8. Peru
  9. Slovakia
  10. Ukraine

Additionally, letters were sent to Azerbaijan and Israel to inform them of future deadlines as a consequence of their request to be shifted to the “odd year” calendar group, whose plans are due in June 2015.

More Countries Eligible to Join

Separately, the OGP announced that six countries are eligible to join OGP for the first time. Those countries are Angola, Bhutan, Guyana, Luxembourg, Namibia and Nigeria.

Including the newly eligible countries there are now 28 countries eligible to participate in OGP, but have not joined. Fourteen countries are close to qualifying, according to the OGP blog post, which also explains the scoring system and a few recent changes made to it.

Two Warnings Could Trigger Discipline

The cases of Turkey and Malta will be referred to the Criteria and Standards Subcommittee which has yet to consider such a situation.

The OGP Steering Committee earlier this year adopted a policy for handling noncompliance with OGP commitments, detailed on the OGP website. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Essentially, two warnings in a row would trigger a discussion about continued OGP membership – the sanction that the organization, founded on inclusion, voluntary goal-setting and mutual support, hopes to avoid. A country will be in breach if it does not publish a NAP within 4 months of the due date.

The first cautions came in February of 2104 when the Steering Committee in a public statement saying Lithuania, Malta and Turkey had failed to meet their commitments by missing a September deadline to submit a self-assessment and seemed to have gone underground. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

In August of 2014, the OGP revealed 11 letters sent in April informing member governments they were not in compliance with their OGP commitments. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

The April letters pointed out a variety of issues.

– No National Action Plan published within 4 months of due date: Mongolia, Trinidad and Tobago

– No self-assessment report published within 4 months of due date: Azerbaijan

– IRM [Independent Review Mechanism] found no evidence of offline or online consultation with civil society: Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain

 – IRM did not issue a progress report due to inactivity: Lithuania, Malta, Turkey

Some of the countries involved rectified the problems.

The OGP process involves governments making voluntary commitments in action plans after a participatory process, followed by a self-assessment of progress and an independent analysis. The 65 members are divided into four cohorts with varying deadlines mostly depending on the date they joined. For details, on the OGP website see a chart at the bottom of the page “dates and deadlines.”

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