This week’s Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Mexico City offers a good opportunity to take stock of the American Bar Association’s contributions to OGP and, more generally, to fostering “open government” throughout the world.
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) works throughout the world to advance the OGP principles of transparency, accountability, participation and technological innovation in the justice sector. Just a few examples include:
Programs in China to advance new access to information laws and capacity building of civil society organizations to use these laws to shed light on government policies and practices.
Public education initiatives, such as recent efforts to raise awareness of rights newly enshrined in Morocco’s constitution and to provide trainings and legal consultations to civil servants, journalists, businesspeople and the general public in combating bribery in Ukraine.
Support for government anti-corruption efforts, such as our Regional Anti-corruption Advisor program highlighted in this month's story about the Pathfinder conference, and a program in Moldova to support judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in the prosecution of crimes of corruption within the judiciary, as well as work with civil society in Russia and China to press local governments to fulfill their commitments and abide by their own regulations.
Initiatives that give voice to the public in key government decision-making, such as our efforts to organize civil society input into transitional justice design in Mali.
Support for technological innovation, such as the e-court program in the Philippines and the digital case database as well as the SMS-based early warning system in the Democratic Republic of Congo—programs that harness new technology to increase transparency, accountability and citizen access in the justice sector.
One striking fact, however, is that while all of these ABA ROLI projects advance open government principles, few of the countries in which we work are OGP participating states. A key role for ABA ROLI then is to mine the models and lessons being shared in Mexico City this week and to share them with our partners in the more than 50 non-OGP states in which we work. Some of these lessons will be applicable, others will not, but we ought to leverage the OGP experience, helping it to reverberate beyond OGP states, and perhaps in the process, bringing new states to the valuable OGP process.