Promoting greater governance: Parliamentarians mull OGP membership

Sep 1, 2017

Nepal’s parliamentarians have come together to discuss the potential benefits of joining the Open Governance Partnership, and how it could possibly reinforce the country’s commitment to good governance and help it gain credibility on the international stage

The Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of the Legislature Parliament, with support from UNDP’s Parliament Support Project (PSP), recently held an interaction on Nepal’s eligibility for and significance of joining the Open Governance Partnership (OGP), a global multilateral initiative that seeks to promote transparency, accountability, participation and technological innovation in governance.

Bringing together as many as 70 participants from the government, media, civil society and academia, the 30 August programme witnessed lively deliberations over the potential benefits of an OGP membership, the challenges therein and the way forward. The broad view that emerged was that membership was desirable to Nepal, particularly in terms of reinforcing its commitment to good governance and streamlining efforts of transparency and accountability, and through that, also gaining in credibility on the international stage.

Giving a number of examples of best practices related to OGP from countries like El Salvador, Chile, Armenia and Georgia, among others, UNDP’s Deputy Country Director in Nepal, Sophie Kemkhadze expressed that being part of the initiative would serve to support Nepal’s advancement on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 16, which relates to building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. She commended the progress that Nepal has so far made in good governance, despite the myriad obstacles along the way, and remarked that in rendering the state’s work even more accessible, the OGP mandate could help to further improve and expand citizen engagement with government, which is yet another cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda.

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This was also more or less the crux of a presentation given by Chief Information Commissioner of the National Information Commission, Krishna Hari Bankota, who sought to provide a comprehensive run-through of the history and context of the OGP, and reassure participants of the benefits of membership. “Since open government data and partnership, as envisioned by the OGP, is key to honoring the social contract between the state and citizenry, joining this network can only have positive results,” he said. Further explaining that the country has already been deemed eligible to become a member as per the OGP’s criteria, he added that it would be especially prudent to consider membership in the present moment, when Nepal is in the process of a major structural transformation and, in such an ambitious undertaking, could very much use the knowledge and support of the international community.

Also presenting at the programme was senior journalist and Right to Information (RTI) activist Taranath Dahal, who similarly asked MPs to dispel any skepticism they might have about the OGP agenda. “It’s a simple and creative political movement that has been born of increased frustration among and demand for openness from citizens, who don’t feel a sense of ownership over their own government, and are suffering a crisis of confidence in public institutions.”

Encouraging his fellow MPs to take up the task without delay, parliamentarian Udaya Nepali Shrestha reminded them of the groundwork that has already been done on Nepal’s membership to the OGP, and requested the Committee to inquire into why the process was stopped and how it can be resumed at the earliest. In response, Committee Chairperson, Mohan Singh Rathor, pledged that steps would be taken in this regard, adding that this could be a significant achievement for the Committee.

The OGP was formally launched on 20 September, 2011, with the membership of eight founding governments, a network that has now extended to 69 countries. The initiative advocates a government which is committed to providing opportunities for citizen engagement in public affairs, and building the trust between the state and its citizens to find shared solutions. It gives the member countries a platform to champion their reform agendas, provides best practices, and promotes reform-minded officials necessary to push through real changes.

More photos of the event HERE

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