Partnership, Civil Society, Accountability, Governance
At the OGP Global Summit 2016 in Paris on 9th December 2016, the NUG representative at the conference announced its membership to the OPG. The Government of Afghanistan (GoA), as an eligible country, submitted its letter of intent to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in December 2016, and committed to promoting the core values of the program: citizen participation, transparency, accountability and finally innovation and technology. As a country that still ranks low in international index on transparency and anti-corruption, the challenge is considerable, and the GoA will have to prove its ability implement the open government agenda, by developing country action plans through a multi stakeholder process, with the active engagement of citizens and civil society, and making concrete commitments that raise Afghanistan’s current standards. Failure to do so, with clear breach of OGP core values, would mean losing the OGP membership.
The Administrative Office of the President (AOP) will be the focal point of the OGP and host a secretariat which role will be to lead the implementation of the OGP, whilst remaining independent and receiving direction and guidance from the OGP Multi-Stakeholder Group (see below).
Echoing Civil Society’s call at the Brussels Conference for more accountability and transparency, the OGP is an opportunity for Civil Society to get a seat at the table and be involved with critical open government reforms. The role of Civil Society is to build a diverse coalition of civil society actors that will provide inputs to the government on establishing an effective consultation process and action plan, set up an ongoing, and permanent mechanism for civil society involvement in the OGP and independently monitor the progress of the OGP in Afghanistan.
According to Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), the OGP is strong global mechanism for support and protection of civil society, free media and citizen participation at national level. It is the responsibility of Civil Society to hold the government accountable and ensure that the OGP does not limit itself to simple gesture, but is actually implemented.
Under the leadership of IWA, Civil Society has conducted awareness raising sessions and workshop in the Kabul, and will pursue their engagement with civil society organizations throughout the country. An OGP multi-stakeholder Forum will be established, gathering all relevant stakeholders (e.g. citizens, civil society organizations, government departments, parliament, academics and private sector) to develop the National Action Plan.
OGP requires all its participating countries to “commit to developing their country action plans through a multi stakeholder process, with the active engagement of citizens and civil society.” Civil society participation is considered a cornerstone of the OGP process. This is a deliberate requirement since participation of all stakeholders, especially civil society’s active participation, is key to ensuring that government reforms work in a sustainable way.
According to Ahmadullah Mauj, Integrity Watch’s representative at the OGP Global Summit 2016, “The next step following formal membership to OGP is draft of a National Action Plan (NAP) through a participatory mechanism between the relevant government agencies and civil society organizations.” A NAP is prepared for two years. After the mutual approval of the NAP, the government starts the implementation and the civil society monitors its implementation and member states share their NAPs to the OGP secretariat for follow up and technical assistance.
OGP Afghanistan will then establish the following working groups with Civil Society
Natural Resources Working Group