OGP Committee Poised to Discuss Turkey, Azerbaijan

26 April 2016

The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee is poised to consider whether two members, Turkey and Azerbaijan, should be downgraded to “inactive” membership.

The Steering Committee also has a broad agenda of policy matters to consider at the meeting May 3-4 in Cape Town, South Africa, (dress code “business formal”), and will be choosing future leaders. The agenda and papers for the meeting have been published here.

Three countries – Croatia, Romania and Georgia – are in the running to succeed France at the end of its term in October, 2017. The next co-chair representing civil society apparently will be Mukelani Dimba, Executive Director of the Open Democracy Advice Centre in South Africa.

The future status of Azerbaijan and Turkey is scheduled for a 90-minute discussion.

An OGP subcommittee has recommended that Azerbaijan be sanctioned for creating an environment hostile of civil society. Turkey faces inactive status for being inactive. Turkey has failed to prepare national action plans in two successive action plan cycles. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) A “separate pack” of documents about the two countries’s situations has not been posted on the OGP website.

The decisions on imposing sanctions will be the first for the Steering Committee, composed equally of government and civil society representatives. “Should be interesting,” commented an OGP official. Unusually, the pre-meeting documents include the voting rules and procedures.

Complaints about Hungary are not on the Steering Committee’s agenda, but an OGP source said they would be discussed. Civil society groups from Hungary asked the OGP in July of 2015 to examine Hungarian government actions as not being in accordance with OGP principles. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.) Completion of the OGP evaluation under its “response policy,” however, has been protracted, with the government voicing objections. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

Policy Discussions Planned

The Steering Committee is slated to review OGP activity in the context of its previously approved four-year strategic plan. See a summary of that agenda item on the OGP blog that describes challenges and opportunities.

The agenda will include a discussion of OGP activities regarding the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change. Reports will be presented on the new pilot project with subnational governments and on the Independent Review Mechanism.

The United States is proposing to accelerate digital with an OGP “surge response corps” – “a pool of subject-matter experts, innovators, and tech entrepreneurs who could be deployed for limited engagements with or in OGP countries to work with governments and civil society leaders on specific open government projects.”

The documents indicate that a new working group on anti-corruption has been formed and its work plan is outlined.

The Steering Committee also will hear presentations on expanding cooperation with national legislatures.

All OGP Steering Committee meetings are closed, with minutes released several weeks later.

See all previous Freedominfo.org coverage of the OGP since 2011 here.


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