U. S. President Barack Obama greets Qatar's Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-thani at meeting of the Libyan Contact Group at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2011. The interim government takes a seat at the UN General Assembly this week. UPI/Allan Tannenbaum/Pool | License Photo
NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday challenged the heads and representatives of 46 countries to improve government at the Open Government Partnership meeting.
The meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York "focused attention on the shared challenge of improving governance, and demonstrated a strong political commitment around the world to the kinds of reforms necessary to enhance transparency, fight corruption and strengthen mechanisms of democratic accountability," the White House said in a statement.
Obama proposed the organization at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2010.
"I challenged our countries to come back this year with specific commitments to promote transparency, to fight corruption, to energize civic engagement and to leverage new technologies so we can strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries," Obama told the gathering.
"Today, we're joined by nations and organizations from around the world that are answering this challenge. In this Open Government Partnership, I'm very pleased to be joined by leaders from the seven other founding nations of this initiative. I especially want to commend my friend President [Dilma] Rousseff for Brazil's leadership in open government and for joining the United States as the first co-chairs of this effort."
Among the "action plans" scheduled by the group:
-- Effective management of natural resources revenues: The United States will join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative as an implementing country in "forging a new partnership between government and industry to ensure that taxpayers receive every dollar they are due from the extraction of our natural resources," the White House said.
-- Delivering public information: Brazil will develop several activities toward increasing active transparency and open data, including restructuring the Transparency Portal and launching the Brazil Open Data Portal, in order to converge to the appropriate environment for future enactment of the Access to Information Law.
-- Gender equality: Norway will promote gender equality and women's full participation in civic life, the private sector, public administration and political processes, by "following up the recommendations of the government white paper on equal pay, launching an effort to have more women apply for top posts in the private sector and undertaking an initiative to strengthen the role of women in local democracy and develop a gender equality program with all municipalities."
-- Open data: Britain "will promote improvements in outcomes and accountability in the public sector by transforming the rights of citizens to obtain data from public authorities and establishing standards and frameworks to embed a culture of transparency" in the United Kingdom, the White House said.