The Right Tools for the Right Job: How OGP can help win the fight for civic space
This paper is an OGP The OGP Support Unit is a small, permanent group of staff that work closely with the Steering Committee and the Independent Reporting Mechanism to advance the goals of the Open Government Partnership..../Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) collaboration authored by Tonusree Basu, OGP Thematic Partnerships Manager, and Denisse Miranda, IRM Research Manager.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving government transparency, ensuring opportunities for citizen participation in public matters, and strengthen... More (OGP) was founded on the idea that public policy reform is better when government officials engage with civil society actors. Because of this, OGP cannot succeed without the ability of people to freely organize, participate, and communicate about policy. This is referred to as “civic space.”
Yet, based on an analysis of documented events over the last five years, Freedom of association — the right to join a formal or informal group to take collective action — is a universal right and can be used as a mechanism for public accountability. Technical specifica..., assembly, and expression are under threat in many OGP countries. The most common problems are:
- attacks on journalists and An essential part of open government includes protecting the sacred freedoms and rights of all citizens, including the most vulnerable groups, and holding those who violate human rights accountable. T... defenders,
- failure to respect and protect public assemblies, and
- barriers to independent and efficient operation of formal civil society organizations.
Is OGP focusing on the right problems and using the right tools? OGP action plans currently do not address the most pressing civic space problems in OGP countries. There is a significant number of commitments addressing formal operation of civil society organizations. The gap between the scale of problems and the number of commitments is widest in Peaceful assembly — a fundamental human right — is essential to healthy and effective democratic institutions. Technical specifications: Protection of the individual right to peacefully assemble, ... (where there are two commitments) and the defense of human rights defenders and journalists.
OGP has tools to address the problems. In order to rise to the challenge, the OGP community can improve civic space with the following five action points:
- Do no harm: Action plans are at the core of a government’s participation in OGP. They are the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society jointly develop commitments to open governmen... commitments should not introduce undue burdens and restrictions on civic space.
- Increase volume: OGP needs more civic space commitments.
- Improve scope: Commitments should cover the breadth of civic space problems, including emerging issues in the digital realm.
- Find the right fit: OGP needs more civic space commitments that match a country’s problems.
- Aim for net impact: OGP should measure its impact in part on whether it is contributing to more civic space in the country through collaborative dialogue.