NGO Statement: Suspended Process of Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Georgia
We, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the process of Open Government Partnership (OGP), would like to express our concern about continued inaction on the part of the Government of Georgia, due to which the OGP process in Georgia has been suspended for over two years.
The obvious crisis in the open government process intensified in 2018, precisely when Georgia, as a chair country, was hosting the OGP Global Summit. As the government ignored a significant portion of suggestions made by the non-governmental sector, we, the OGP Forum member NGOs, were compelled to appeal to the OGP International Secretariat with a request to launch a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM). As a result, the coordination of the open government process was moved from the Ministry of Justice to the Government Administration, while the government undertook an obligation to transform a façade cooperation process into a real co-creation process and to ensure a meaningful participation of the civil sector in planning ambitious reforms.
The result of this process was that the new secretariat, with participation of the Forum member NGOs, established a new format based on the good practice of cooperation between civil society and the government – the Open Government Inter-Agency Coordination Council, in which NGOs enjoy a consultative voting power. Certainly, this was a positive change which would introduce a new best practice and, if implemented, would potentially put Georgia back among the leaders of open government. Unfortunately, however, this change remained on paper. Almost two years have passed since the creation of the Council with no meeting ever held. Furthermore, Georgia thwarted an entire Action Plan cycle, and the country has not planned or implemented a single OGP reform in two years.
In 2020-2021, the Government of Georgia formally tried to restore the process twice. The first attempt was made in February 2020 when it requested the Forum member NGOs to present their commitments for a new Action Plan; the second attempt was made when it asked the NGOs to update their commitments in July 2021. In both cases, the NGOs presented their package of commitments by the deadline. Nevertheless, as of December 2021, the position of the government bodies is still unknown. No consultation or working meeting has been held in the process. As a result, Georgia will have nothing to present at the OGP Summit planned for 13-17 December 2021.
We, the member NGOs of the Open Government Georgia Forum and the Coordination Council, call on the Government of Georgia to immediately restore the process of open government partnership and ensure effective involvement of NGOs in this process. Otherwise, it will become clear to everyone that the open government process, its mission and values are no longer a priority for the Government of Georgia.
We also call on the OGP Secretariat (the Support Unit) to become actively engaged in resolving this lengthy crisis and to call on the Government of Georgia to take effective steps with the aim of restoring this process.
 Georgia joined Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011 and implemented several important reforms within its framework. In 2014, Georgia was elected a member of the Partnership’s decision-making body – the Steering Committee – for the first time; in 2016, the country became a co-chair of OGP, while in 2017, succeeded France as the Partnership Chair. In July 2018, Georgia hosted the OGP Global Summit with participation of delegates from 115 countries.