News

31 October 2017

OGP in the News - Week of October 23, 2017

A weekly round-up of Open Government Partnership (OGP) media coverage around the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox? Subscribe here.

The open government spark is catching! This week’s OGP media coverage profiled several non-OGP countries and provinces eager to join the open government movement, including Morocco and Basque Country in Spain.  

Exciting open government news came out of Liberia, which was profiled in OGP’s brand new short documentary, “Food From This Soil.” Showcasing the work of organizations like  Accountability Lab Liberia and the Sustainable Development Institute, the film documents how OGP land commitments are beginning to impact the lives of residents of the Jogbahn community in Liberia’s Grand Bassa County. A unique look at #opengov in practice, OGP Communications Officer Rachel Ostrow wisely notes that, as with many open government stories, “there’s as much to learn from the process as from the solution.”  

Also in Liberia, Information, Culture, and Tourism Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, recounted the country’s long journey fighting corruption at the Crans Montana Forum in Brussels. Covered by AllAfrica.com, Minister Nagbe’s speech applauded outgoing President Sirleaf’s concrete anti-corruption efforts, including joining OGP and the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). Despite these commendable advances, however, Minister Nagbe said that the fight against corruption has not been an easy one and encourages the next administration to “deepen judicial reform efforts, form an effective partnership with domestic civil society to pressure elected officers into supporting anti-corruption policies and legislation.”  

In Spain, the Basque government is determined to earn a reputation for being an “innovative region” in public governance, reported Euskadi.net. The government débuted its “Strategic Plan for Public Governance and Public Innovation 2020,” which aims to lay the groundwork for a new model of governance emphasizing the principles transparency, accountability and citizen participation. Present at the launch was OGP Program Manager for the Subnational Pilot Program, Brittany Lane, as were representatives from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Transparency International. As stated in the article, each of these organizations has “tackled the new model of public governance that responds to demands of society that are becoming increasingly popular in the most advanced societies and with the public.”  

This week, Pakistan’s Senate unanimously passed the “Right of Access to Information Bill.” While not exactly met with fanfare from some civil society groups who deemed the new piece of legislation a “weak law,” author and activist Zahid Abdullah outlined its merits in an opinion piece for Dawn.com. Calling the law a marked step-up from its predecessor, the 2002 Freedom of Information Ordinance, the author underscored the law’s commendable provisions for proactive information disclosure, the establishment of an independent information commission, and the inclusion of NGOs in the definition of a “public body.” He also writes that Pakistan’s OGP participation can help ensure the law’s effective implementation. Noting that Pakistan is currently setting up an OGP Multistakeholder Forum, the author said this space of dialogue between government and civil society “offers great opportunity to civil society and media groups to obtain specific commitments from the government.” In another opinion piece for Dawn.com, Muhammad Anwar also acknowledges the attributes of the new law, but offers these words of caution: “A very good law on paper can’t ensure citizens access to information without the political will of the incumbent government.”      

In a similar vein, non-OGP country Morocco is trying to pass an Access to Information law of its own, announced HuffPost Morocco. A prerequisite for joining the “open government club,” a provisional access to information law has been pending in Morocco’s parliament since 2014. Minister of Administration Reform and Public Service, Mohammed Benabdelkader, and director of the Center for Press Freedom in Northern Africa and the Middle-East, Said Essoulami, both emphasized the importance of this kind of legislation in building trust between citizens and the government. Essoulami also pointed out that, while the Moroccan government has expressed interested in joining OGP, it has taken a step backward by releasing less information than before.  

Finally, at an event dedicated to United Nations Day (October 24), Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili highlighted the role of OGP in Georgia’s UN development. In an article for InterPressNews, he was quoted saying that Georgia has transformed from a “UN beneficiary country into a regional leader, and today Georgia chairs the Open Government Partnership.”

Last but not least, what does an “Open Government Jam” look like? Indonesia leads by example - find out more in our latest blog on the country's recent OpenGovJam to brainstorm e-government prototypes to improve service delivery!  

Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org