Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
New York, NY
August 4, 2014




AS DELIVERED

Hello everybody, I’m Samantha Power. I get to be ambassador to the United Nations every day, representing the United States, and I’m delighted to be on this panel. I overheard one colleague describing what was happening here over the next few days is, in terms of the number of bilats, as “speed dating.”

So, a lot of “speed dating” going on today and I’m going to ask my panelists, who each have amazing stories to tell about OGP, to keep their comments brief. We’re also going to turn it open to the audience in a little over half an hour and get your questions, your stories. But I think the biggest challenge that we face several years in to the existence of OGP is making it concrete for people. And that includes those countries and those individuals in civil society and in government who are outside OGP, who might be sitting out in the audience and thinking, “Well, that sounds cool. I’d like to bring that to my country.”

But it also includes, frankly, individuals and citizens in the countries that are card-carrying members of OGP and even countries like some of those represented here, like South Africa and the United States, who have been with OGP right from the beginning. Even Ayanda and myself, have challenges within our own governments describing what this is, this new, modern, multilateral network that brings civil society together as an equal partner with government. Already, people in government are like, “Well, that’s a little weird. How does that work exactly?”

A new and modern partnership that isn’t preachy, that involves people coming together to share the best ideas, as you saw in the video, I think illustratively. A new partnership that showcases the leadership of emerging democracies -- we’ve had Brazil as the chair of OGP in its first and second year of existence; Indonesia, Mexico approaching, South Africa, we’ll hear from. So, this is a modern movement and a modern initiative. But our challenge for you here today, I think, is to make it concrete and make it attractive because the reformers among you, whether in civil society or government, are the people who make this initiative real and make it work for real people, which is what it’s all about.

So, without further ado, I want to start the speed dating with our great panelists here today. And I’d like to start, Minister Chaponda, with you. Malawi, as we heard, is one of the newest, one of the more recent countries to join OGP. You just had an election and so we’re very pleased that we have your president with us in town and we have you representing Malawi. But I wonder if you could talk either about OGP as a partnership, or about Malawi’s own open government efforts. And some very - if you could offer just a couple concrete examples for our audience as to how Malawi, under new leadership, is seeking to make open government work for citizens.

 

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PRN: 2014/171