Revenue Watch Insititute: New Co-Chair Will Champion Citizens’ Voice in OGP17/04/2012
Source: Revenue Watch Institute
Date: 17 April 2012
Organizations focused on citizens will have a new champion in the Open Government Partnership beginning this week, with the appointment of the group’s first civil society co-chair, Warren Krafchik, a member of Revenue Watch’s governing board and executive director of the International Budget Partnership.
More than 1,000 members of government, civil society and the private sector are gathered in Brasilia from 17-18 April for the annual meeting of the Open Government Partnership(OGP), which challenges governments to establish better transparency and citizen participation in order to fight corruption, save lives and drive economic growth.
Fifty-five countries have now declared their participation in OGP, with commitments to national action plans on issues from government efficiency to innovative uses of technologies to more open, responsible management of the oil and mining sector. Yesterday, Russia became the newest country to join the partnership, and other recent additions included Costa Rica, Panama, Serbia and Trinidad and Tobago.
OGP is a unique collaboration between government and civil society, with nine organizations and eight founding governments sharing leadership. Krafchik’s new position highlights the two-way nature of open government, which should go beyond the publication of data by governments for citizens to be a conversation between government and citizens, uplifting the voice of civil society as a fully engaged partner in governance.
In remarks at the opening of the two-day meeting, Krafchik said, “Greater access to information must come with participation opportunities so that citizens and civil society organizations can use it to improve accountability. … Participation energizes citizens, turning them into vital actors in shaping their countries’ future. It knits them into the fabric of governance, and recognizes the important role that their knowledge and skills can play.”
To effectively support their countries’ response to the challenge of OGP, civil society groups must also collaborate among themselves, moving from advocacy in isolation to joint action that emphasizes the links between activities such resource extraction, foreign aid and budget expenditure. By giving their input on country action plans, advocates can shine a spotlight on these linkages and, we believe, demonstrate that coherence in the drive toward transparency will deepen and accelerate government accountability.
On Day Two of the OGP meeting, Revenue Watch will host a panel discussion on the benefits of oil and mining transparency, and the practical steps governments, organizations and companies can take in concert to define and fulfil OGP commitments.
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