What will the President talk about at the OGP summit at the UN?

Montenegro cannot boast with fulfilling obligations within Open Government Partnership, therefore it is not clear what will the President of Montenegro speak about at the upcoming meeting of this Initiative, which will be held on September 24 this year.

Nine Heads of State will speak at the United Nations in New York at the high-level event organized on the occasion of celebrating the third year of the initiative Open Government Partnership (OGP). Among the speakers are Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and Filip Vujanović, the President of Montenegro.

However, Montenegro does not have anything to boast with at the conference, because it is late with fulfillment of every obligation under this Initiative and since mid-2013 there were no activities in drafting the Action Plan which would aim to improve conditions in the areas promoted by this Initiative. This is the obligation of all member states of the Initiative.

Since the deadline for preparing the final version of the Second Action Plan for all member states was June 15, 2014, and for the beginning of implementation of the new AP was July 1, 2014, and Montenegro has not even begun drafting the Action Plan – we wonder what the President will say at the conference and how he will justify the Government’s failure to fulfill obligations and its general disinterest in OGP.

Member states of the Initiative are required to develop action plans that promote principles of transparency, accountability, new technology and innovation development, through several months’ consultation process involving multiple stakeholders and mandatory active participation of citizens and civil society. Today, OGP brings together 64 countries of the world, while Montenegro became a member in 2011 by adopting the First Action Plan. The importance of the Initiative is best illustrated by the presence of the President Obama at the OGP event on the sidelines of the UN’s General Assembly.

At the 64th session held on 10 April 2014, the Government has adopted the conclusion that puts the Cabinet of Prime Minister in charge of appointing “as soon as possible” a new coordinator who will form a new Operating Team of the Open Government Partnership. However, the public still does not know who the new coordinator is.

Furthermore, by the Government Conclusion, the Office for Cooperation with NGOs is tasked to commence activities on the selection of NGO representatives in the Operating Team in accordance with the Strategy of Cooperation of the Government of Montenegro and Non-Governmental Organizations, at the latest within seven days of appointment of a new coordinator. This activity has not yet begun, either. The delay in the implementation of these conclusions, among other things, prevented further work on the preparation of the new Action Plan.

It is necessary to appoint a coordinator of the Operating Team as soon as possible, as well as other members of the OT, including government and non-governmental organizations representatives. It is a recommendation of Institute Alternative to include representatives of the Montenegrin Employers Federation and the Association of Municipalities of Montenegro in the OT, in accordance with the principles of the Initiative related to inclusion of all segments of society in policy-making and building stronger connections between citizens and government. Additionally, we recommend allocating budget funds for the implementation of the Action Plan which will be the measure of the actual Government commitment to contribute to the realization of the objectives of the Initiative through conducting specific activities.

Dina Bajramspahić

Public Policy Researcher

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