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Democratic Transition

What influences journalists’ attitudes toward freedom of information?

Jing Guo's picture

The Government of Iraq recently withdrew lawsuits against news media and journalists nationwide and adopted an access to information law in the Kurdish region. Jing Guo explores the range of opinions journalists have regarding freedom of information in a country experiencing political transition.

In December of last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the withdrawal of all government lawsuits against news media and journalists under the previous administration, signaling a departure from the media policies of his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki. This announcement, in addition to the adoption of an access to information law in the Iraqi Kurdistan region a year ago, marked a positive step toward freedom of expression and information in the post-authoritarian country.
In Iraq, a functioning national freedom of information law is long overdue for supporting an independent media sector and the public’s right to know, both of which are among the fundamental pillars of democracy.  With open access to government meetings and records, journalists can serve as conduits of information between the governing and the governed.  At the same time, citizens and journalists can help strengthen democratic governance by holding those in power accountable.
Today, more than a decade after the end of full state control, Iraqi journalists are still largely “in transition.” As proponents and users of the legislation, their views of freedom of information are important in the passing and implementation of the law. What do journalists think about accessing government information in their country? What factors shape their views?

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Johanna Martinsson's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Africa Can...End Poverty
Two ways of overcoming government failure

"Everyone seems to agree that most, if not all, policy problems have their roots in politics. That is why you often hear that a particular policy will not be implemented because there is no “political will.”  Seemingly anti-poor policies and outcomes—untargeted and costly fertilizer vouchers in Tanzania, 99 percent leakage of public health funds in Chad, 20 percent teacher absenteeism in Uganda, 25 percent unemployment in South Africa—persist.  Yet these are countries where the median voter is poor.  A majority doesn’t vote in favor of policies that will benefit the majority.  Why?" READ MORE

The Struggle for Middle East Democracy
Shadi Hamid

"It always seemed as if Arab countries were ‘on the brink.’ It turns out that they were. And those who assured us that Arab autocracies would last for decades, if not longer, were wrong. In the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, academics, analysts and certainly Western policymakers must reassess their understanding of a region entering its democratic moment. What has happened since January disproves longstanding assumptions about how democracies can—and should—emerge in the Arab world. Even the neoconservatives, who seemed passionately attached to the notion of democratic revolution, told us this would be a generational struggle. Arabs were asked to be patient, and to wait. In order to move toward democracy, they would first have to build a secular middle class, reach a certain level of economic growth, and, somehow, foster a democratic culture. It was never quite explained how a democratic culture could emerge under dictatorship." READ MORE

Kunda Dixit On Little Stations That Can

Sabina Panth's picture
© Caroline Gluck/Oxfam

En menos de dos semanas, alrededor de 1000 personas se reunirán en la ciudad de Washington para participar en el Foro sobre Fragilidad 2018. Autoridades responsables de las políticas de países desarrollados y en desarrollo, profesionales de organismos humanitarios, instituciones de desarrollo y del ámbito de la paz y la seguridad, académicos y representantes del sector privado se congregarán con el objetivo de incrementar nuestro impacto colectivo en los países afectados por la fragilidad, los conflictos y la violencia.

Este año, el tema del foro es la gestión de los riesgos para la paz y la estabilidad, que refleja un cambio estratégico en la manera en que la comunidad internacional aborda el tema de la fragilidad, los conflictos y la violencia, entre otras formas, poniendo en primer lugar a la prevención. Este nuevo planteamiento se presenta en un estudio conjunto del Banco Mundial y las Naciones Unidas titulado Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict (Opciones de paz: Planteamientos inclusivos para prevenir los conflictos violentos), que se publicará próximamente. En dicho estudio se señala que el mundo debe reenfocar la atención en la prevención de la violencia como un medio para lograr la paz. Según sus autores, la clave está en identificar tempranamente los riesgos y trabajar en estrecha colaboración con los Gobiernos a fin de mejorar la respuesta ante tales riesgos y reforzar la inclusión..