OGP in the News- Week of May 2, 2016

A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world.

Last week saw press coverage of OGP centered on Africa, where on May 5-6 close to a thousand representatives from civil society organizations, government, business, academia, and multilateral organizations gathered in Cape Town for the continent’s Regional Meeting. Media attention was widespread and varied, with the event being featured both in print – for instance, in a special series of front-page articles in the Cape Times – and on television, where CNBC Africa aired a series of interviews from the meeting.

The meeting also received substantial coverage in digital media. In the Huffington Post, for example, Winnie Byanyima, OGP ambassador and executive director of Oxfam International, wrote a widely shared piece on the unique opportunity being provided by the gathering, whose theme was “Open Government for Sustainable Development in Africa.”

This important meeting could not be more timely. The huge ambition that realized the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needs to be bolstered and channelled quickly into implementing them. Good open governance, ultimately, is the launch-pad that will transform the 2030 Agenda from aspiration to achievement. Rule of law, access to justice, and financial transparency happen by design, not accident.

At the heart of the issue is access to power: people who are denied it are denied the chance to make decisions about their lives. With power, they can gain more control over their own lives and can more surely begin to escape from poverty. Because of this Oxfam was proud to form an alliance with the OGP and endorse the OGP’s declaration on the SDG’s with other civil society organizations and fifty governments.

In addition, the pan-continental AllAfrica.com ran half a dozen articles on the Regional Meeting – with stories on its kick off, on the chairing and addresses of the meeting by South African ministers, and on the development of OGP in Côte d'Ivoire (in French). AllAfrica.com also covered the frustrations of civil society during the meeting. But despite these grievances, the South African government received commendation from international civil society organizations for its decision to take bold action in tackling corruption by committing to public registries of beneficial ownership. The announcement to open public registers, which came during the meeting and was outlined in the country’s third National Action Plan, made headlines in such outlets as Premium Times of Nigeria and Ghana Business News.

The other development out of Cape Town to attract media attention came from a meeting of the OGP Steering Committee a day before the formal start of the gathering where it was determined that Azerbaijan would be designated as inactive in OGP, due to “unresolved constraints on the operating environment for Non-Governmental Organizations.” The decision made news in neighboring Armenia (at both the Armenian News Agency and Panorama.am), in the United States (at organizations concerned with openness such as FreedomInfo.org and Publish What You Pay), in Azerbaijani sources (for instance, Human Rights in Azerbaijan and Contact.az), and on the BBC.

Elsewhere in the world, the Georgian outlet Agenda and the Russian news service Regnum reported on the government of Georgia becoming a Steering Committee co-chair; an opinion piece in the Toronto Star mentioned OGP in relation to the need for increasing openness in Canada; the launch of our Subnational Pilot program continues to find its way into the news in places like São Paulo, Brazil; and El Financiero of Costa Rica published a piece which cited OGP while affirming that “access to public information is a fundamental human right.”

And last but not least, although the Africa Regional Meeting has now ended, there’s no need to get anxious about desperately wanting to attend more OGP meetings – like our former Steering Committee co-chair. With the Americas Regional Meeting in Uruguay just a few weeks away, and the Global Summit in Paris this December, everyone will have plenty of opportunities to get their fix of OGP in 2016!

Authors: Alex Vedovi
Filed Under: OGP News