The Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit next week provides a great opportunity to reflect on open government commitments made and implemented in the last 10 years of OGP’s existence. With 78 national members and 76 local members, as well as thousands of civil society organizations engaged all around the world – this is a feat.
Zooming in on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia all joined OGP and to date have made 170 commitments. The latest action plans cover many different themes including access to information, open data, and youth and women participation in the decision-making process.
But OGP is more than just commitments. It is about effectively implementing these commitments that make the most impact to the daily lives of citizens. The goal of open government is to create transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in government decision making. Further, open government is citizen-centered governing, especially at the local level.
As the saying goes, “all politics are local,” and this includes open government reforms. Since local government officials are closest to citizens, they have the unique role in their community of understanding the needs of citizens while also being the first point of contact to connect with government. If municipal leaders are unresponsive or unable to solve key local issues, then citizens will have less trust in government.
In fact, all three partner MENA countries joined the OGP program through five local governments:
- Municipality of Greater Karak in Jordan
- Municipality of Greater Salt in Jordan
- Region of Tanger-Tetouan-Hoceima in Morocco
- Municipality of El Kef in Tunisia
- Municipality of Regueb in Tunisia
Therefore, it is through this lens of bridging the gap between local and national that the International Republican Institute (IRI) and OGP have formally partnered in the MENA region. The goal of the partnership is to build stronger links between local and national governments through boosting public awareness about open government reforms, like access to government data, and helping with peer-to-peer engagement of civil society organizations across the region to share experiences in engaging in the OGP process.
As part of this collaboration, IRI and OGP will be hosting an event on December 14, 2021, during the OGP Global Summit focused on analyzing the barriers to local and national collaboration and discussing successful strategies in bridging the gap and ways that CSOs can get involved.
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