Money in politics. Intrusive government surveillance of the Internet. Personal privacy and media freedoms under threat.
All of these issues sit at the frontier of the open government agenda. And virtually none of them are currently present in the more than 1,000 commitments made by governments through their Open Government Partnership National Action Plans.
That needs to change.
OGP’s institutional design has always favored an opt-in, race-to-top approach. The requirements for joining the partnership are clear but minimal and favor a big tent outlook on open government. This “let a thousand flowers bloom” perspective encourages contextually-specific, homegrown Action Plans that are ostensibly more relevant to governments and their civil society counterparts than a universal checklist approach.
Unfortunately, that design has also encouraged a lowest common denominator approach to open government in many countries. Politically easier reforms are embraced first through Action Plans while the tough, edgier, “frontier” issues are glossed over.
At the OGP Summit next week in London, I will be convening a panel of renowned experts to dig into these issues and explore how OGP governments and civil society can push for future Action Plan commitments around new frontiers issues in a politically realistic and affordable way. Jermyn Brooks, chair of the Global Network Initiative, and Morton Halperin from the Open Society Foundations will unpack ways through which civil society and industry can encourage government to be more transparent and accountable in the context of digital and internet surveillance activities. Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a champion for greater transparency of political financing systems, will highlight practical ways political parties and politicians can open up to their constituents about their sources of support and funding. Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, will guide us in understanding how these various transparency agendas tie up into global norms and rights to freedom of expression and civil liberties.
It should be a fascinating discussion and debate, live streamed via the OGP website, and I warmly invite you to attend on Friday November 1 at 11:15am GMT.
This original blog post was first featured on the OGP website on October 27th, 2013.