Here is an important initiative led by the Carter Center that I was part of and that we would like to bring to the attention of our readers. What follows is the text from the Carter Center:
"Participants from the African Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information today released the Regional Findings and Plan of Action to advance the right in Africa. The conference found that while access to information is a fundamental human right, political and institutional constraints in Africa have limited the opportunities to exercise the right. Taking into account the realities of Africa, the regional document serves as an annex to the global Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action.
"Facing historical and unique challenges, African nations have found it particularly difficult to advance the right of access to information,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who chaired the opening day of the conference that took place Feb. 7-9, 2010, in Accra, Ghana. “Unlike in other regions of the world, there has not been a wave of countries passing and implementing access to information laws. In Africa, only five countries have passed laws, and this number includes Zimbabwe, which many have argued uses its law to repress rather than provide information."
The conference was organized and hosted by The Carter Center in collaboration with the special rapporteur for freedom of expression and access to information in Africa, the Media Foundation of West Africa, and Open Democracy Advice Centre.
The conference gathered more than 130 participants from 18 countries in the region representing government, civil society, media, private sector, regional intergovernmental organizations, international and regional financial institutions, and donors to consider the main obstacles and potential solutions to advance the right of access to information in Africa.
The African regional plan provides a blueprint for the regional and international community, states, and non-state actors to establish, develop, and nurture the right of access to information and calls on them to commit to the plan in furtherance of our common objective. On the final day of the conference, participants met in country working groups to identify specific next steps to advance the right in their nation.
To read the full African Regional Findings and Plan of Action, Country Working Group Plans, and the Atlanta Declaration for the Advancement of the Right of Access to Information, please go to www.cartercenter.org/accesstoinformation.html."