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Public Call for Ideas to Strengthen OGP’s Eligibility Criteria

Nathaniel HellerandRadu Puchiu|

As you may have seen in the recently published minutes from the June working-level Steering Committee meeting, the Steering Committee has endorsed adding a small number of additional eligibility criteria (to be possibly framed as an “OGP core values” check) to the requirements for countries newly joining the Partnership. This has been a priority for many of us for some time, as the current criteria are imperfect and have resulted in countries joining OGP where there is misalignment between OGP’s core values (as articulated in the Open Government Declaration) and civil liberties and civic space realities on the ground. At times, this has resulted in Response Policy cases being triggered, which not only threaten to undermine OGP’s credibility but also absorb valuable Support Unit and Independent Reporting Mechanism resources. We are now soliciting your thoughts and ideas for ways to strengthen OGP’s eligibility criteria.

The goal is to add a modest number of new eligibility criteria (1-3) that help to improve the alignment between participating OGP countries and OGP’s core values, particularly around civic space and civil liberties issues. Why new criteria rather than replacing the current four criteria? We discussed this, but considering that the main challenge is associated with better assessing the state of civil liberties and civic space in a country, we felt it more efficient to explore new criteria rather than adjusting the existing four. While OGP’s Criteria & Standards subcommittee is already working intensively to review existing global data sets for possible indicators, we wanted to open up the process to anyone with good ideas for possible solutions. As such, please consider this note as our invitation to send us actionable, practical ideas for data or indicators on which we can anchor these potential new eligibility criteria.

It goes without saying that not just any data in the world will suffice. They need to be reliable, methodologically sound, produced on a regular and predictable basis, and published by reputable organizations with standing in the global open government community. As such, we encourage any and all ideas that conform to the following basic criteria:

  • Data sets/indicators should provide a useful reflection of/proxy for key civil liberties and/or civic space issues at the national level in countries.
  • Data sets/indicators should provide global coverage on a regular basis; at a minimum, 100 countries worth of coverage is required.
  • Data sets/indicators should be published/produced by reputable third parties (e.g. not government self-assessments), whether those third parties are credible international organizations or non-governmental organizations.
  • Data sets/indicators should have been produced more than once, and there should be confidence that they will be produced on either an annual or biannual basis reliably in the future.

If, after reviewing those criteria, you have suggestions for potential indicators and/or data sets that OGP should consider for these new “values check” eligibility criteria, please contact me directly (nheller [at] r4d [dot] org) to share any and all thoughts and ideas. As we are moving quickly within the subcommittee to develop final recommendations in advance of the mid-September ministerial Steering Committee meetings, we would appreciate any and all suggestions by August 15th.

Many thanks in advance for your creative suggestions!

Nathaniel Heller (Results for Development Institute)
Radu Puchiu (State Secretary of State, Government of Romania)
OGP Criteria and Standards Subcommittee Co-Chairpersons

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