Washington — The Open Government Partnership launched a year ago by President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is designed to promote openness, fight corruption and energize civic engagement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says.
“In the 21st century, the United States is convinced that one of the most significant divisions among nations will not be North/South, East/West, religious or any other category so much as whether they are open or closed societies,” Clinton says. “We believe that countries with open governments, open economies and open societies will increasingly flourish.”
“They will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful,” Clinton said.
Clinton said those nations that hide from their citizens and reject ideas of openness and the aspirations of their people for greater freedom will find it increasingly difficult to maintain peace and security.
Clinton addressed the first high-level meeting of the Open Government Partnership on April 17 in Brasilia, Brazil, along with Rousseff, who co-chaired the meeting. The partnership was launched by Obama and Rousseff in September 2011 during the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. More than 1,000 representatives from over 60 nations and 200 civil society organizations met in Brasilia for the two-day meeting.
The meeting featured an “Innovation Village” of businesses and organizations specializing in open-government services, as well as a venue for engineers, developers and policy leaders who generated lessons, developed applications and created examples from government data and open government action plans. Open government improves governance at local levels and demonstrates member countries’ political commitment to reforms that enhance openness, fight corruption, and strengthen accountability and communication between governments and citizens.
Clinton told the delegations attending the conference that it is not enough to show commitment to the goals of open and honest government; it is also necessary to deliver on those commitments.
Clinton cited Chile, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Romania, Spain and Tanzania for creating websites that make public data available to every citizen on everything from crime statistics to political party financing, local budgets and government procurement. She also cited Bulgaria, Croatia and Tanzania for creating “citizens’ budgets” that explain in plain language how public resources are spent.
And Ukraine, the Slovak Republic and Montenegro have introduced “e-petitions” on websites to make it easier for their citizens to send ideas and opinions directly to policymakers.
“These initiatives are designed to reduce corruption, because we know corruption kills a country’s potential,” Clinton said. “It drains resources. It protects dishonest leaders. It takes away people’s drive to improve themselves or their communities.
“So the cure for corruption is openness, and by belonging to the Open Government Partnership, every country here is sending a message to their own people that we will stand for openness,” she said.
From Brasilia, Clinton travels to Brussels to attend a two-day Joint NATO Defense and Foreign Ministers Meeting in preparation for the 2012 NATO Summit May 20–21 in Chicago. Clinton attended the U.S.-Brazil Strategic Dialogue in Brasilia before the Open Government Partnership conference, after attending the Sixth Summit of the Americas with President Obama in Cartagena, Colombia.