Clarification Note: Participation of Brazilian NGOs in the Open Government Partnership
With respect to the note published by Transparência Brasil concerning the participation of Brazilian NGOs in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU) explains that:
1) On June 16th, 2011, the initiative was formally introduced to Transparência Brasil during the meeting of the Council for Transparency and Fight Against Corruption, an advisory and collegiate body linked to the CGU, of which the entity is a member. At that time, the representative from Transparência Brasil, Mr. Antônio Augusto de Miranda, actively participated in the debates about the OGP, even suggesting requirements to be added as assessment criteria for the participating countries.
2) On August 29th, 2011, CGU sent an email to the Executive Director of the Transparência Brasil, Mr. Cláudio Abramo, inviting him to participate in the meeting scheduled for September, 2nd, 2011 to further discuss about the OGP.
3) On August 30th, 2011, Mr. Cláudio Abramo replied to that email, reporting that he would not be able to attend the meeting. On the same date, he sent a letter to the Head of the CGU suggesting positions to be adopted by the Brazilian Government within the initiative and requesting the inclusion of Transparência Brasil as a member of OGP´s Steering Committee. CGU, however, could not deliver such request. OGP´s Steering Committee is formed by governments from nine countries and by nine civil society organizations that were already chosen and invited by the time CGU was also invited to the first meeting in Washington (USA), in January, 2011. The work of most of these organizations has international reach and Inesc was the only Brazilian entity to attend the event. CGU would not have any justifiable reason to propose the exclusion of such Brazilian entity, well-known and highly respected for the work it has been developing over the years.
4) The Articles of Governance of OGP, agreed by its founding members (nine governments and nine NGOs) and approved during a meeting of the Steering Committee that was held yesterday, establish that it is up to the civil society, without any interference of governments, to choose its representatives for the next mandate of the Steering Committee. The renewal system shall be progressive and three out of the nine current member NGOs shall be replaced during the next conference, to be held in London in March, 2013.
5) On November 25th, 2011, CGU sent another invitation to the Executive Director of Transparência Brasil urging him to participate in another meeting, scheduled for December 7th, 2011, in which the objective was to discuss OGP and the Brazilian Action Plan. The aforementioned entity, however, did not provide any response to such invitation.
6) CGU expects the participation of the civil society in the formulation of the commitments comprised in the Brazilian Action Plan to be as wide as possible. The process has already been launched, meetings have already been organized, including the meetings detailed above, and several NGOs have accepted our invitation to contribute with their insights and ideas. Given the dynamic nature of the national plans, annual reviews are expected to occur and contributions from the civil society are always welcome. Tomorrow, for instance, a comprehensive meeting will be held with the purpose to assess the Brazilian plan and propose other civil society participation mechanisms. Dozens of NGOs, including Inesc, Transparência Hacker, Article 19, MCCE, Ibase, Idec, W3C and Conecta have already confirmed their attendance.
7) On the other hand, it is important to note that the attendance in today´s conference, which was held in Brasília, was open to any individual or entity. The fact that a representative from Transparência Brasil (TB) has registered to attend the event is a good example to illustrate such statement.
Finally, neither CGU has the power or the will to judge the legitimacy of the Brazilian NGOs aspiring for a seat at the OGP´s Steering Committee within the international arena. Transparência Brasil should seek such legitimacy among other the Brazilian and foreign NGOs that are democratically participating in such process.