Seven Nations to Join OGP; Hungary Quits Under Duress

6 December 2016

As the Open Government Partnership convened for a summit meeting in Paris Dec. 7-9 seven countries announced plans to join – Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Germany, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Portugal – while one member resigned, Hungary.

Hungary was probably on its way to being declared an “inactive” member anyway for missing OGP deadlines.

Based on the OGP’s eligibility list, 23 other countries have met the membership criteria and could join:

Angola, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Guyana, Iceland, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia.

Several non-eligible countries announcing they will work towards eligibility and join in the future: Morocco, Haiti, Guinea, Madagascar and Senegal.

The new additions would bring OGP membership to 76, though two members, Azerbaijan and Turkey, are “inactive.”

Strategic Refresh in Works

In advance of the two-day meeting with a packed agenda of diverse programs, the OGP released a draft report that will inform its “strategic refresh” discussions as the multinational organization celebrates its fifth year anniversary.

Among other recommendations, the extensive draft report by U.S. academic consultants criticizes the OGP’s “theory of change” and says the group “has a critical need for expanded funding.”

The report suggests six new directions: i) Deepen citizen-centered governance ii) Broaden collective ownership domestically iii) Strengthen capacity, coordination and coalitions for implementation iv) Raise collective ambition globally v) Review OGP’s rules of engagement and performance incentives and vi) Strengthen OGP’s branding and communications.

In advance of the meeting, OGP Chief Executive Office Sanjay Pradhan wrote of “three critical and transformative reforms that need to be scaled up for Open Gov 2.0 to be successful as a countervailing force in the present geo-political context.” In brief, they are:

  • Genuine participation with inclusion.
  • Government responsiveness to citizen feedback.
  • Tackling elite capture and grand corruption.

Hungarian Withdrawal

The announcement by the Hungarian government came with a parting jab at the OGP for allegedly distorting facts, referring to an OGP report prepared in the wake of complaints about the government by Hungarian civil society organizations.

An OGP subcommittee in June agreed with the civil society complaints and adopted a critical report. A subcommittee document outlined the Hungarians government needed to take to restore a positive operating environment for civil society. Also see Dec. 7 OGP statement.

In a September update, the subcommittee reported that OGP officials had met with Hungarian officials in July but had not heard from them since then. The OGP’s sanction in such situations is to declare members inactive, which it has done with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

One other member has quit in the past, Russia.

India was involved in the preliminary discussions before OGP’s formation in 2011, but decided not to join.

Civic Space Reduced

Research by CIVICUS released Dec. 3 shows that that civic space (defined as “respect for the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful
assembly) is obstructed or repressed in 25 of the 68 active OGP countries.
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