Madrid, 16 October 2019 – In an historic moment for the right of access to information, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 28 September of each year as the International Day of the Universal Right of Access to Information.
Access Info’s founder and director, Helen Darbishire, one of the experts who founded and promoted the day, commented “The importance of the right of access to information for defending other human rights, for restoring trust, and for advancing inclusive, democratic societies, has today been recognised.”
“This is a huge achievement for the civil society movement which first named 28 September as International Right to Know Day at a meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 28 September 2002,” added Darbishire.
In the 17 years since civil society first proposed a day to celebrate the right to information, the number of countries in the world with access to information laws has jumped from 40 to over 130.
The right to information has been recognised as a fundamental right by all major international human rights bodies, including the UN Human Rights Committee, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights.
28 September is already widely-celebrated globally by civil society, information commissioners, governments and inter-governmental organisations alike, with events to raise awareness of everyone’s right to request and obtain information from public bodies. Since 2016, UNESCO has recognised the day. UNESCO is responsible for measuring the states compliance with the right under the SDGs.
Access to information is also part of the Sustainable Development Goals, being an indicator under Goal 16 which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Furthermore, the Open Government Partnership, founded on 2011, has transparency as one of its core pillars, and requires that participating countries have an access to information law in order to join and that they take concrete measures to advance with respect for the right in practice as part of their OGP commitments.
Press release of the resolution by the United Nations General Assembly: https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12201.doc.htm
Full text of the resolution, dated 15 October 2019, can be found here
On the left: Sofia, 28 September 2002, FOIAnet foundation meeting. On the right, UN General Assembly Resolution A/74/L.1.