On 29-30 January the UK Government and the OECD co-hosted a conference in Naypyitaw, entitled ‘Open Government Partnership: The Way to Membership’. The conference was focussed on the role of the recently appointed Open Government Partnership (OGP) Leading and Working Committees, which will form the Burmese Government side of the OGP membership process. Public officials from the UK’s Cabinet Office and Foreign & Commonwealth Office were able to share the UK’s experience of being a founder member of the OGP.
In his opening remarks, British Ambassador Andrew Patrick emphasised the need for genuine engagement between government and civil society, saying:
The establishment of Leading and Working Committees to help take the OGP process forward is a positive step. What will be critical to the success of the process will be genuine and inclusive collaboration with stakeholders, in particular civil society. Indeed, it is essential that civil society plays a key role in embedding OGP standards, serving to help create the groundwork for a healthier collaboration between government and citizens. OGP membership will not be achievable without this. Achieving the required level of trust may take time. However, the UK firmly believes that the OGP’s principles and working practices can help to mediate new relations between communities, civil society organizations, business and State actors during a period of transition.
Paul Maltby, Director of Open Data & Government Innovation in the UK’s Cabinet Office, said:
The OGP is a friend of the reformer, and a friend of those who realise the world is changing and want to adapt. The UK will continue to support all of those in Burma who are striving to create a healthier relationship between government and citizen.
More information on the UK and the Open Government Partnership: Open Government Partnership
The Open Government Partnership is an international standard that seeks commitments from participating governments to promote transparency, fight corruption, increase civic participation, and harness new technologies to make governments more open, effective, and accountable. In November 2012, President Thein Sein committed to joining the OGP by 2016.
The Eligibility Criteria of the OGP requires specific and tangible measures to be taken by government towards promoting citizens’ participation, freedom of expression, access to information, budget transparency, and fighting corruption. Such measures include making government officials declare their assets, promulgating an Access-to-Information law, and publishing key government budget documents. Following this, government will be required to work together with Civil Society Organisations to develop a National Action Plan for Open Government, and have progress tracked against this plan in the future.
Building on the assessment and recommendations of the OECD Open Government Report of Burma OECD Open Government Reviews, the conference on 29-30 January was an occasion for the members of the newly established Leading Committee and Working Committee for membership of the OGP to discuss how to incorporate the recommendations into Burma’s public sector reform agenda, and how to better work with Civil Society Organisations.
The event was organised by the OECD in collaboration with the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development of and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.