OAS Secretary General Inaugurates Regional Meeting of Open Government Partnership in Chile
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, today inaugurated in Santiago, Chile the Second Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership: "Challenges and Progress in the Open Government Initiative,"
(Media-Newswire.com) - The Secretary General of the Organization of American States ( OAS ), José Miguel Insulza, today inaugurated in Santiago, Chile the Second Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership: "Challenges and Progress in the Open Government Initiative," highlighting the "indispensable" and "central" role of civil society in the process of creating greater transparency in government.
Secretary General Insulza, who opened the event together with the Minister Secretary General of the Presidency of Chile, Cristian Larroulet, and the Director of the Planning and Evaluation Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ( ECLAC ), Raúl Garcia-Buchaca, said that "in our experience in the OAS, we have learned that the presence of civil society allows us to get to the bottom of the issues."
On the subject of one of the central themes of the meeting, access to public information, the leader of the hemispheric organization said the issue "has been part of the agenda of the organization for more than a decade, when the General Assembly began to adopt resolutions which expressed that access to public information is a prerequisite for democracy." "It’s not just about regulating the information and saying what information is going to be made public," said the Secretary General, "but also making sure the range of classified information is growing smaller, that's the big battle."
"We have come far in our countries in recent years, transparency legislation has been passed, accountability has become more frequent at the national, regional, and local levels, and access to public information has greatly expanded, but we recognize that, from the Latin American perspective, we started from far behind," said Secretary General Insulza.
The leader of the OAS recalled that the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, adopted in 1996, "was the first treaty on the subject," and highlighted the importance of The Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption ( MESICIC ), "an intergovernmental organization, but one with ample space for the participation of civil society,” which supports the States Parties in implementing the Convention, and which serves as a forum for the exchange of information and mutual cooperation between States on best practices in preventing and combating corruption.
The Secretary General explained that the MESICIC has completed three rounds of evaluations, focused on "issues of the Convention that have to do with transparency and accountability in the public sector, such as access to information and other mechanisms of civil society participation in governance, as well as the responsibility of the private sector."
For his part, Minister Larroulet emphasized that "our democracies require improvements." "Building democracy is a task that never ends," he continued, "and therefore should never be neglected." The Secretary General of the Presidency of Chile said that "there is no doubt that if there is a major challenge right now in our countries and globally, it is precisely to make progress in bringing government closer to the citizens, allowing for more participation, allowing for more information and improving citizens’ confidence in public institutions."
The ECLAC representative, Raul Garcia-Buchaca said that for his organization, the issue of open government "is of significant importance, because it is part of our agenda, and is closely linked with the vision of development with integrity that the countries of our region aspire to."
The Regional Meeting of the Open Government Partnership seeks to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices on the issues of access to information, transparency, accountability and citizen participation, in order to strengthen integrity and combat corruption. The meeting also aims to highlight the importance of including the parliaments of the region in the Open Government Partnership; to develop courses of action in support of the Open Government Declaration, adopted in September 2011, which has brought together governments and organizations from 58 countries; to propose projects that can be addressed in a coordinated way by the various parliaments of the hemisphere; and to develop suggestions for strengthening cooperative work in this area.
The meeting, taking place at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago, Chile, will also feature the participation of the Director of the Department of International Law of the OAS, Dante Negro, who will talk about access to public information in the plans of the Open Government Partnership and the role of oversight bodies for the compliance with the regulations in this area.
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