Because the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) already share many similar goals– among them, fighting threats to democracy, countering corruption , and promoting fairness regardless of income, gender, and race—it stands to reason that the two organizations would cement their relationship in a formal manner.
In October, Daniel Twining, IRI’s president, joined Sanjay Pradhan, CEO of OGP, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations. The timing is important, because almost immediately after the White House’s Summit for Democracy in December, OGP is hosting its own global summit virtually and in Seoul, Republic of Korea. IRI is engaged in both summits, which will outline the global democracy roadmap for years to come.
The 2021 OGP Global Summit will be an opportunity to highlight and advance the work both organizations do. IRI and OGP are discussing several different issues for the summit, including challenges to democratic governance, the disconnect between local and national leaders in implementing open government reforms and the influence of transnational networks in exacerbating corruption.
Even before the MOU, IRI and OGP were already working together around the world on their similar agendas and concerns. Those areas of focus often overlap and build on each other. They include:
- anti-corruption and anti-kleptocracy
- opening civic space and promoting citizen engagement in politics and governance
- promoting citizen engagement, with a focus on marginalized groups
- building digital governance tools
- using digital tools, and others, to foster open and transparent legislatures
The two groups are also collaborating on projects in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In MENA, for instance, both institutions are building stronger links between local and national governments, boosting public awareness about open government reforms like access to government data. They are also working with local groups to help support reforms. As part of this work, IRI and OGP are co-hosting virtual workshops for civil society organizations; more than 55 people joined the first workshop in September.
IRI and OGP see their relationship as one of mutual support– like-minded democracy assistance organizations need to work together against democratic backsliding. Both organizations’ open government practices are popular and can be expanded. Platforms like IRI’s and OGP’s, many locally based, focused on empowering citizens, pushing for transparency, can help ensure that governments respond to the people who need their services the most.Top