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Towards Greater Government Transparency and Accountability in the Arab Region

Beirut, Lebanon

“Open Government: emerging technologies for greater government transparency and accountability in the Arab Region,” was the title of the meeting that gathered 50 experts from 14 Arab countries in addition to Turkey and Denmark. The event was organized by ESCWA on 26 and 27 April 2017, under the patronage and in the presence of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform in Lebanon Inaya Ezzeddine.
The main objective of the meeting, which was opened by Acting ESCWA Executive Secretary Khawla Mattar alongside Minister Izzeddine, was to discuss open government and harmonize the understanding of its principles and components while considering the specificities of the Arab region. It also aimed to define its role in enhancing transparency and accountability in governments and improving citizen participation in the decision-making process. The discussion topics addressed the status of the open government in the Arab region based on a questionnaire circulated by ESCWA in several Arab countries. The results of the questionnaire were presented and a number of recommendations were proposed to promote and push open government in the Arab region. The meeting also reviewed experiences and initiatives of open government from countries in the region, such as Tunisia and Jordan as well as other countries of the world.
 The meeting discussed the study prepared by ESCWA entitled "Framework for open government policies in the Arab countries to enhance transparency and accountability in the public sector", which proposed a framework that helps governments in the region formulate national policies on open government. The framework includes four stages: the stage of transparency which makes government data openly available and promotes a culture of transparency in the public sector and among citizens; participation and enhancing interaction with citizens and civil society; cooperation and access to advanced levels of participatory decision-making and design of services that are responsive to needs of citizens; and active engagement, which is an advanced stage that follows the implementation of all previous stages including full access to data and the use of advanced technologies in building an accountable government.
This meeting is part of the ESCWA project "Fostering institutional development for participatory approaches towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals in Western Asia", which was designed to respond to Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals on justice and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. The project includes a range of activities including studies, regional/national workshops and advisory services to ESCWA member countries.
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