Minister-Delegate Moubdi, Mr. Forst, Distinguished and Honored Guests: I am very pleased to be here today to participate in the second Open Government Steering Group meeting held in Rabat this year. When we met last January, I was very pleased to see such a strong commitment here to promoting the Open Government Partnership. And this meeting today, six months later, is a testament to Morocco’s dedication to bringing this partnership to fruition. Evidence of this resolve was seen just yesterday, as Moroccan Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane travelled to Paris to sign a two-year country program agreement with the OECD, of which one of the focuses will be progress in public governance.
As in January, I expect that there will be a continued healthy discussion today of how Morocco can launch the public consultation process to inform the drafting of its OGP Action Plan. In addition, it will be important to chart the next steps toward implementation, with reference to the OECD Open Government review of Morocco and the recommendations they can provide.
How this Action Plan will be carried out will determine in large part whether Morocco can meet the aspirations of OGP. I can’t stress enough how important it is for the Moroccan government to engage civil society fully as it works on its Access to Information Law and prepares to apply for OGP membership. Consultation needs to be broad and deep. And it needs to be continuous throughout the process. So I am glad to see such a variety of groups represented here today. Moreover, the OGP should become a framework on which other government strategies and initiatives are built, fusing the Open Government principles into Morocco’s governance structure. Accession to the OGP is a serious step and it requires both concerted action and a strong commitment by all involved, particularly the government, if it is to be realized.
I was pleased to see that the Open Government coordinators for Canada and Tunisia will also be sharing their experiences with this group later this morning. I think there will be a lot we can learn from each other as we pool our collective wisdom. Every government functions within the framework of its unique circumstances and history, but there are many commonalities between countries’ experiences. I also encourage all to give sincere thought to OECD’s Review, which will be presented today. OECD has a lot of experience in the field of open governance and can help Morocco immensely in its efforts to join the Open Government Partnership.
I said it in our last meeting, and I will repeat again: history has shown that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies flourish. They become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful. An open, transparent government that engages its citizens and civil society is good for everybody, including business. After all, where businesses know rule of law exists and is respected, they’re more likely to invest, and that means more jobs and prosperity for the citizenry of that country.
I know the work ahead for Morocco will be difficult. But I believe Morocco is on the right path. It needs to continue down this path – by drafting a credible action plan, by increasing engagement with civil society, and by passing laws that allow citizens more access to government information. Better informed citizens will better understand the decisions of the government and will contribute in meaningful ways to the public debate on public policies. While the process is challenging – no one likes to hear criticism – the rewards are real and highly beneficial to everyone.
A true partnership between government and its citizens creates more prosperous economies, more just societies, and more opportunity for citizens. And that’s what I – and what the entire U.S. government – want for Morocco.