As co-chair of the Open Government Partnership for 2011, the United States of America today stressed that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies will increasingly flourish.
In her remarks at the Open Government Partnership Opening Session in Brazil, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said nations with open governments will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.
Ms. Clinton stresses that in the 21st century, the United States is convinced that one of the most significant divisions among nations will not be north/south, east/west, religious, or any other category so much as whether they are open or closed societies.
Governments that hide from public view and dismiss the idea of openness and the aspirations of their people for greater freedom will find it increasingly difficult to maintain peace and security, she cited.
“Those countries that attempt to monopolize economic activity or make it so difficult for individuals to open their own businesses, they will find it increasingly hard to prosper.” -Ms. Clinton
Societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in internet world they will be left behind, she stressed.
Ms. Clinton underlines that states must make a convincing case that those of have joined up to the Open Government Partnership really mean what they say.
“It’s not enough to assert that we are committed to openness. We have to deliver on the commitments that we have made.” -Ms. Clinton
In Chile, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Romania, Spain, and Tanzania, citizens are all creating websites to make public data available to citizens on everything from crime statistics to political party financing to local budgets and procurement.
Bulgaria, Croatia, and Tanzania are creating “citizens’ budgets,” to explain in plain, accessible language how public resources are spent, Ms. Clinton noted.
Ukraine, the Slovak Republic, Montenegro are introducing “e-petitions” on websites to make it easier for citizens to send their ideas and opinions directly to policymakers, she added.
Ms. Clinton commends the Slovak Republic and Montenegro for also introducing whistle-blowing protection laws to ensure that those who expose corruption are not punished or harmed.
She says other countries have also pledged to make the location and status of natural resources transparent, map the location of water access points, pass national anticorruption legislation, create innovation funds for development of technologies that support openness, strengthen protections for the media, create social networking websites on drug trafficking so citizens can anonymously and safely report suspicious activity.
These initiatives are designed to reduce corruption because it knows corruption kills a country’s potential, Ms. Clinton stressed.
The initiatives drain resources and protect dishonest leaders, she added.
“It takes away people’s drive to improve themselves or their communities.” -Ms. Clinton
So the cure for corruption is openness, and by belonging to the Open Government Partnership, every country in the meetin is sending a message to their own people that they will stand for openness, Ms. Clinton emphasized.
Now, the United States is committed to 26 initiatives designed to increase public integrity, promote public participation, improve public services, and do a better job of managing public resources.
The US government is also joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to bring more transparency to its oil, gas, and mining industries.
In addition, Ms. Clinton announced in Busan, South Korea that the United States will join the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
The US government has created websites where people can get clear information about government regulations and consumer information on products and services.
The United States has launched a website where citizens can send a petition directly to the White House as well.
Brazil and the United States are committed to advocate open government as well.
Fifty-five countries now belong to Open Government Partnership of which 47 has joined in the past eight months alone.
Ms. Clinton reports that quarter of the world’s people now live in OGP countries, each of which has outlined concrete, credible steps that it will take to open the work of government so citizens are empowered, problems are solved, democracy is strengthened.
The Open Government Partnership is equally a partnership with civil society also, Ms. Clinton stressed.
The mission of OGP is one that civil society has long fought for, and therefore, Ms. Clinton highlighted that bstates need civil society to have an equal stake and an equal voice for the partnership to succeed.
President Rousseff and President Obama launched the Open Government Partnership last fall on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, six other founding governments and eight civil society organizations were present.
President Obama made it clear that the purpose of the Open Government Partnership was to advance specific initiatives to promote transparency, fight corruption, and energize civic engagement and to leverage new technologies so that countries strengthen the foundation of freedom.
US asserts that open government is a powerful tool to help create dialogue between citizens and government.
On July 12th 2011, the United States hosted a multinational meeting to discuss ways to bring greater openness to more nations. It was by a September gathering of governments in New York for the launch of the Open Government Partnership.
On July 2011, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero said open government is based on three principles. She said the first one is the principle of transparency, the way in which a government can provide information to its citizens about what it’s doing.
The second one is civic engagement, civic participation. Both first principles – of transparency and civic engagement – then feed into the third principle, which is accountability.