Public access to information is critical to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies


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This is an important week: it marks both International Right to Know Week and the week of the United Nations’ summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.

At this meeting, The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are expected to be adopted. Among these goals is Goal 16, Target 10 – to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Inclusion of this target recognizes that incredible progress has been made on the right to know--over one hundred countries worldwide already have made significant progress towards achieving this target and other countries are actively discussing the passage of access to information laws--and that there is still more work to be done.

In parallel with this process, the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) must establish indicators to measure progress on the SDG targets over the next 15 years.

The World Bank has proposed that 16.10 be measured by the level of implementation of legislative guarantees and mechanisms for public access to information, including but not limited to information pertinent to each and all of the Sustainable Development Goals and protection of fundamental freedoms.

This measure recognizes that not only is it important for countries to establish legislative guarantees, for example by passing right to information laws, but that they need to take steps to effectively implement those laws in order to realize the full potential of the laws as pathways to sustainable development.

Implementation of legislative guarantees of public access is not easily measured, but we believe it can be achieved.  Most countries with such laws already have enforcement monitoring systems of some kind, even if weak. We believe these monitoring systems can and should be used as a source of data for this indicator.

Through strengthening countries’ own capacity to monitor the operation of their legislative guarantees concerning public access to information, which the World Bank is already supporting in a number of countries and stands ready to continue to support through provision of financial and technical assistance, the SDGs incentivize and support the ultimate aim of capacity building and development within countries.

In addition, use of countries’ own monitoring systems can be tailored to address the different national starting points and priorities associated with implementation of access to information laws. The data supplied by countries can be compared with data from other agencies, including the World Bank, Human Rights Commissions or Information Commissioners, judicial records, civil society statistics and academic research. Indeed, the Bank has developed a core set of indicators on Right to Information Drivers of Effectiveness – the RIDE Indicators – to help with this work.
Legislative guarantees and mechanisms for public access to information are critical to promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. We can and should be helping countries around the world to adopt these legislative guarantees and to build their capacity for effective implementation.  Adoption of Goal 16, Target 10 will be the first step, with an important next step being adoption of an indicator that measures implementation progress.

Tweet this:  Public access to info is critical to promoting inclusive societies: #goodgov  

Tweet this We propose #SDG 16.10 be measured by the level of implementation of legislative guarantees:  

Tweet this:  Once #SDGs adopted, imp next step is adoption of an implementation progress indicator: #goodgov 


Victoria L. Lemieux

Senior Public Sector Specialist

Join the Conversation

AHM Bazlur Rahman
September 22, 2015

Greetings from Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC)
In Bangladesh we are part of International Right to Know Week .
Thank you very much for your nice posting about 16:10.
With best regards,
AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BR | Chief Executive Officer |
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
[Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations]
House: 13/3, Road: 2, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207| Bangladesh|
Phone: +88-02-9130750| 9101479 | Cell: +88 01711881647
Fax: 88-02-9138501 | E-mail: [email protected] | [email protected] |

hajer trabelsi
September 28, 2015

Dear Victoria L.Lemieux
Thank you for your interesting post.I'm Tunisian activist and i work n access to information here in Tunisia. I would like to know more about indicators developed by the Bank to mesure implementation of ATI low.
With best regards
Hajer Trabelsi

Varney Kamara
October 17, 2015

Dear Victoria Lemieux.
Let me take this time to commend you for your very insightful comments and interesting posts on issues of citizens access to information, especially relating to the achievement of the sustainable development plan and the alleviation of poverty especially in poor countries that the Bank is trying to assist. I am head of a civil society coalition on Freedom of Information. My concern is, what mechanisms is the Bank putting into place to effective monitor governments in the FULL implementation of these "Pro-poor" policies with specific reference to the Sustainable Development Goals. Are you working with civil societies, by building their capacities to also assist in this direction? Or is this process only government-driven? I have already contacted the Independent Information Commission of Liberia. as a government entity to engage you to start a process of making FOI/ATI more impact in Liberia. I am ever ready to help further any initiative in that direction as head of the Liberia Freedom of Information Coalition and even beyond Liberia.