Leaders from Nigeria, others join civil societies in push for open government reforms
Days after the White House Summit for Democracy, thousands in the open government community will gather for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea from today till December 17.
The participants, including a dozen Heads of State and hundreds of civil society leaders, will focus on how reformers in and out of government can work together to advance democratic reforms and fight growing authoritarianism.
The summit comes as democracies continue to face internal and external threats. The state of democracy, as measured by Freedom House, is at its weakest in 15 years, and more than a quarter of the world’s population now lives in democratically backsliding countries.
“Across our partnership, and throughout Africa, courageous reformers are advancing ambitious reforms to renew democracy and tackle unprecedented global crises—from a devastating pandemic to economies in turmoil. Our platform also seeks to ensure that commitments made at high-level events such as last week’s White House Summit for Democracy and COP26 are turned into concrete actions,” said Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer of OGP.
“The OGP remains a veritable tool for engaging citizens and harnessing their input into implementing reforms,” said President Muhammadu Buhari. He continued: “As world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is pertinent for governments to collaborate even more with civil society to ensure resources are expended judiciously and transparently.”
According to OGP’s Civil Society Co-Chair María Baron, “Government and civil society can work together when they share the same mission, even if approaches and perspectives differ. To counter the global issues we face, we must act collectively. While OGP has one of the most vibrant communities of civil society organisations and activists in the world, we cannot do it without government.”
This year, OGP celebrates its 10th anniversary. At its Global Summit, it will release an in-depth Decade Report featuring stories and analysis of independent data showing that when governments co-create reforms with civil society, they are more ambitious and results are stronger.
More than 4,500 reforms have been co-created in 78 countries over the past decade. 2,000 of these were reviewed independently, and over 20 per cent were assessed to have made government significantly more open. The report also found that countries that used their OGP action plan to fight corruption were more likely to carry out reforms.
These actions help promote direct citizen engagement, combat growing inequality, and improve citizen trust in government. In 10 years, 26 OGP member governments in Africa and the Middle East have made nearly 500 commitments to open up their governments.
For example, the Nigerian government is implementing a beneficial ownership registry, the first step in fighting illicit financial flows and making public the real owners of companies in business with the government.
Additionally, to recognise the trajectory, impact, and innovation of OGP reforms over the past decade, awards will be presented to national governments at the global summit. Winners in Africa and the Middle East include: 1st Place: Nigeria – Beneficial Ownership Transparency; 2nd Place: Tunisia – Right to Information and third Place: Ghana – Open Data Initiative.
Since 2011, the OGP, founded by eight national members and nine civil society organisations and initiated by former U.S. President, Barack Obama, has grown into a partnership of 78 national and 76 local government members and thousands of civil society organisations.