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The Open Government Partnership – a new direction for US foreign policy?

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Alex Brandon/AP

(Read caption) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listens at right as Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota speaks during the Open Government Partnership high-level meeting at the State Department in Washington Tuesday.

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The US and more than 50 other countries met Tuesday to discuss a new international initiative to promote open government around the world, the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The aim is to create a multinational, multi-stakeholder compact to advance openness, accountability, transparency, and good government. The OGP is to be announced at the inauguration of the United Nations in September of this year. While the OGP appears to be a promising means of advancing the human condition, it immediately raises a few conceptual and methodological points of contention, as well as a few critical questions about the direction of US foreign policy.

First written-up in November 2010, the Partnership was initially to be co-chaired by the US and India, but India is now out and Brazil is in. Like much about the initiative, the reason for this switch remains hazy, but what is known is that it will involve upwards of 50 countries, and will be led by a “Multi-stakeholder International Steering Committee” comprised of governments from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and more than 60 civil society organizations from around the world. Notably, one of the original catalysts for the OGP, India, is missing from the group.

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