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Outcomes of the April 2015 OGP Steering Committee Meeting

Paul Maassen|

A month ago I told you what we would be discussing at the OGP Steering Committee (SC) meeting in Mexico and now it is time to share some of the outcomes. If you want all the details, you can read the full minutes. If you want a snapshot you can read this e-mail or the Freedominfo blogpost wrote on it.

The core meeting consisted of two days, one at working level and one at ministerial level. The first day mainly consisted of updates from the three subcommittees (Peer Learning & Support, Criteria & Standards, Governance & Leadership). Some highlights:

Day 1

  • PLS agreed to work the coming months towards a refined Working Group model and guidance, to be ready by the Global Summit in October. The mix of technical assistance and peer learning opportunities WGs provide will be maintained. 
  • In early June Georgia will organize a meeting for European government point of contacts, an opportunity to share experiences and start building a network of government practitioners across the region. Civil society leaders from Georgia and from the OGP CSE team will take part to make sure the civil society perspective, experiences and needs are also shared.
  • Five additional new members of the International Expert Panel of the IRM were announced
  • The SC approved some rule clarifications around the OGP calendar and on how to deal with delays in developing new Action Plans. The rules are implemented with immediate effect and will be incorporated in key guidance documents and the Articles of Governance. The SU also shared that both Malta and Turkey have taken steps to re-engage with OGP.
  • C/S agreed on protocols and procedures for implementing the OGP response policy and discussed the letter of concern and draft review report regarding civic space in Azerbaijan. Earlier this week C/S upheld the concerns raised by Civicus, PWYP and Article19. The adopted review report found concerns raised to be credible and relevant to the Government of Azerbaijan’s participation in OGP. More in this statement.
  • SC approved the revised Articles of Governance; revisions reflect SC decisions over the course of 2014.
  • Despite several attempts the governments on the SC have not yet been able to agree on proposed language around ‘non-universally recognized applicants’. GL will now identify next steps.
  • Our Executive Director Linda Frey announced she would step down later this year. A search firm will be hired to coordinate the search for a successor and will involve the SC and the Support Unit staff.
  • The dates, location and theme for the OGP Global Summit were announced. It will take place in Mexico City on October 27-29 with ‘open government as an enabler of inclusive development’ as the theme. Pre-registration and call for proposals are planned to be launched in a couple of weeks.

Day 2

  • The second day started with a presentation to update the SC on ‘how OGP countries are doing’, pulling together the information from the government and civil society teams of the Support Unit as well as the IRM. One interesting fact to share is that fresh (not yet reviewed) IRM data indicates that a majority of countries have improved on meeting OGP process requirements and on drafting more specific, measurable commitments for their second Action Plan. 
  • Mexico announced that it will organise a high level side event for Heads of State/Government during the UN General Assembly (September). At the event, Mexico proposes the adoption of a joint declaration identifying synergies between the post-2015 goals and OGP principles.
  • The discussions on important strategic topics and trends were extremely rich and will lead to quite a bit of concrete follow up, including:
    • Using the Global Summit to share research so far on the impact of Open Government and stimulate further research on the effect of OGP commitments;
    • Establish a voluntary task force of SC members to stimulate further discussion and new commitments around public safety and access to justice;
    • Designing a concrete strategy to stimulate collaboration, peer learning and common open data commitments across multiple countries; 
    • Establish a task force to draft an ‘options paper’ on sub-national government collaboration with OGP for the next SC meeting.
  • The SC agreed with the proposal and the suggested names for new OGP Ambassadors and has the ambition to have them on board by the time of the Global Summit.
  • France has been approved as the next co-chair of OGP, joining South Africa as Support Chair from October 1, 2015. The new civil society chair was not yet announced. I hope to be able to share that soon!

Let me leave it there. This is just a snapshot, much more was discussed, including at side meetings of the civil society SC members. The next meeting will be held at the end of July and will be hosted by the Government of South Africa. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!

Photo Credit: Lal Beral via Compfight cc

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