Sri Lanka endorsed the Open Government Declaration committing “to foster a global culture of open government that empowers and delivers for citizens, and advances the ideals of open and participatory 21st century government,” thereby becoming the newest participating country of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Sri Lanka is the only South Asian participating country in the OGP and joins other countries in the Asian region such as Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines and Republic of Korea.
The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative by the United States launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. From its initial 8 countries – Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States – the OGP has now grown to 69 participating countries, encompassing countries of both the developed and developing world. OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committee, which includes representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
Welcoming Sri Lanka as a new member of the OGP, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who headed the Sri Lankan delegation to the OGP Global Summit currently being held in Mexico City, was accorded the honour of being the first plenary speaker at the inauguration presided over by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Addressing the plenary Minister Rajapakshe said that “the Government of Sri Lanka has decided to join the OGP, extending recently initiated good governance practices towards an open government and that “the Open Government Declaration that Sri Lanka has just endorsed is very much in line with our government’s vision for Sri Lanka.”
He said, “as Sri Lanka joins the OGP, we recognize that the threshold required to be a truly open government has been raised. This makes us even more determined to walk this path together with participating states of the OGP and civil society members, learning from your experiences, and obtaining expertise whenever necessary to build our own capacities, to reach the required benchmarks. And as our government has already demonstrated, we keep our promises.”
The first step towards full OGP participation is meeting the OGP eligibility criteria. In order to be eligible to participate in OGP, governments must demonstrate a minimum level of commitment to open government principles in four key areas of Fiscal Transparency, Access to Information, Income and Asset Disclosures, and Citizen Engagement. Sri Lanka became eligible to join earlier this year, having met the required criteria and scoring 14 of a total of 16 points.
The delegation to the OGP summit also included Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Prasad Kariyawasam and officials of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington D.C. and the Ministry of Justice.