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Renewing Democracy in 2021

For 14 consecutive years, civil and political liberties have declined globally and 2020 was no exception. Authoritarian leaders have been on the rise and civic space has been closing, with the COVID-19 pandemic sadly fuelling further opportunistic attacks on civil society. Racial injustice and inequality have been exposed even further. As advocates for open government, this is contrary to everything we stand for and sadly many of our member countries have not been immune to these global trends.

Last week, an attack occurred at the Capitol building of one of our founding members, the United States. Many watched in horror as  democracy itself was imperiled. The violent insurrection came to viscerally epitomize the deep polarization tearing democracy apart in the United States and in many other countries. As a partnership, we work tirelessly for transparency, participation, accountability, and inclusion. These are crucial for better government – and will be a crucial part of the solution to revitalizing democracy globally. Those responsible must be held to account, and U.S. civil society must have a strong voice in rebuilding American democracy for the future.

But this doesn’t end with the United States. There are reformers in government and advocates in civil society from many countries who are fighting back against illberal and anti-democratic forces. We will work to support those reformers inside and outside of government to support transparency, accountability and inclusion in the U.S. and beyond. Indeed, lessons from our other OGP members can help the U.S. learn to depolarize, to rein in unequal justice, and to break the corrupting link between money and politics that led to much of this.

We believe the whole OGP community can come together to make 2021 a landmark year for open government and democracy, and to turn the tide. Today, we are also publishing OGP’s 2021 work plan, signed off by the 11 governments and 11 civil society leaders of the OGP Steering Committee. This ambitious work plan highlights the opportunities we all have this year. But it only fulfills its potential if we all push together, and support each other. We can’t wait to get started.

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