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Donahoe: People Around the Globe Are Demanding More Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Governan
March 9, 2012

“Promotion of human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”

Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 19th Session

Thank you, Madame President.

We make this statement also on behalf of Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, founders of the Open Government Partnership, “the OGP.”

Madame President:

The United States and the above mentioned countries are extraordinarily proud to have joined together with civil society groups, in September 2011 in founding the OGP, which is an unprecedented global initiative bringing together more than 50 countries and international civil society organizations.  In joining the OGP, participating governments commit to four core principles elaborated in the OGP declaration: transparency, civic participation, professional integrity, and technology and innovation.  OGP countries further commit to developing an action plan to put these principles into practice.  More than 40 countries from all regions are working to finalize action plans drawn from their open government priorities.  The upcoming April OGP High Level Conference, in Brasilia, Brazil, will serve as the forum for the exchange of best practices as countries present these action plans.

We are convinced that the application of these principles to all aspects of governance will directly contribute to a greater enjoyment of the entire spectrum of civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights that this Council addresses.  This is because open government is about combating corruption, improving public services, strengthening government transparency, promoting economic development and giving people the information tools they need to hold governments accountable and to improve their lives.  It is also about harnessing new technology and innovations to improve governance,

and spurring enterprise and creative problem-solving by our societies.

Already during this Council session, ongoing discussions on issues such as freedoms of expression, association and assembly on the Internet, the rights of the child, freedom of religion and belief, food, and adequate housing have underscored the importance of the continued need for governments to pay attention to the practical application of the principles laid out in the OGP declaration, as well as the need for us to learn from one another.

Moreover and equally important, recent events around the globe, most vividly demonstrated by those that continue to unfold in the Arab world, illustrate that as people everywhere strive to fully exercise their human rights, they are also demanding from their governments more transparency, accountability, and increased participation in governance.  Indeed, as the Open Government Declaration, which was endorsed by OGP founding governments in September 2011, makes clear, “public engagement, including the full participation of women, increases the effectiveness of governments, which benefit from people’s knowledge, ideas and ability to provide oversight.”  Civil society actors are using modern communications tools, even as some governments attempt to impose undue restrictions upon them, in order to expand networks, share information, muster support, and generally enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in advocating for protection of their human rights and holding governments accountable when they fail their people.

Madame President,

We are optimistic about the potential for the Open Government Partnership to reinforce the work of the Human Rights Council in practical and concrete ways.  OGP participants have already committed to focus on particular issues such improved public services, better management of public resources and foreign assistance, and creating safer communities.

As participants implement their country action plans, we are confident that the OGP will generate significant additional expertise and examples of best practices that the international community can draw on as we all look for ways to improve human rights conditions.

Thank you, Madame President.