The civic space – El Sol de México

On April 13, 14 and 15, the Third National Open Government Summit was held, organized by the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) and the Nucleus of Civil Society Organizations in Mexico (NOSC) . This civic space served to reflect on the importance of having institutions that guarantee the right of access to information and how this is the key to access other rights such as the right to health. Many lives depend on having timely, clear and quality information.

In the face of challenging times, the spaces for dialogue between the government and civil society acquire greater relevance. The global pandemic and the national context reinforced the need to move from an Open Government, to an Open State (with all powers) that takes into account the social value of public information and government openness.

The NOSC organizations shared their concern and position regarding the violation of civic space and public debate that threatens freedom of expression and puts at risk the improvement and co-creation of public policies. The lack of political will of some government institutions to advance open government commitments was also a constant signal.

The NOSC expressed its total condemnation of the various threats and accusations that attempt to delegitimize the work of civil society organizations that work to guarantee the right of access to information, human rights, and open government in Mexico.

It is clear that having the rights in the Constitution is not enough. It is necessary to guarantee them, exercise them and frequently also defend them. The right of access to information is no exception. The open government initiative emerged as a simple idea: to improve the response capacity of governments in the face of increasingly complex social demands and problems that require the intervention of various actors: government, autonomous organizations and civil society.

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An Open Government is one that recognizes that it is due to its society, so it practices transparency, is accountable for its actions and guarantees safe civic spaces, with a gender and inclusion perspective.

There can be no open government without public information. Providing information is empowering people to demand their rights such as the Right to Health. Precisely in this lies the social value of public information: in the incidence of information in people’s daily lives In which hospital can I attend? What vaccines has the government bought? What is the vaccination plan? ? How much and from where is being paid for vaccines? How does the government buy?

It is essential that an Open Government is inclusive, willing to cooperate and that it recognizes the contribution of civil society. To deny it is to despise the will and initiative of women and men who do not remain passive in the face of injustice, opacity, bad government or inequality. Attacks on civic space affect dialogue and government openness, as well as the commitment to transparency and therefore the full exercise of rights.

* Manuel Guadarrama is the Government and Finance Coordinator of IMCO and Coordinator of the Nucleus of Civil Society Organizations in Mexico for Open Government.

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Myrtle Frost

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