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Right to Information – global perspectives Andrew Puddephatt Global Partners.

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1 Right to Information – global perspectives Andrew Puddephatt Global Partners

2 International standards 1946, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 59(I), stating, “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and... the touch­stone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.”

3 UN Special Rapporteur Freedom will be bereft of all effectiveness if the people have no access to information. Access to information is basic to the democratic way of life. The tendency to withhold information from the people at large is therefore to be strongly checked.

4 Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”

5 Other regional bodies Council of Europe European Convention Court judgements African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man The Commonwealth Heads of Government 1999

6 National Courts Japan India Sri Lanka South Africa

7 What are the pressure points collapse of authoritarianism and the emergence of new democracies Council of Europe and the Organization of American States have drafted guidelines or model legislation to promote freedom of information World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other donors Pressure from civil society


9 Aarhus Convention European treaty open to non European governments Right to environmental information held by public bodies Right to participate in environmental decisions Right to challenge refusals in a court of law

10 Information and the private sector Right to certain information from companies that are performing public functions where there are particular environmental concerns – Chile, USA, Canada. South Africa gives right to access information held by private bodies, to protect rights

11 Self-regulatory initiatives Global Reporting Initiative Sullivan principles CERES principles (environmental) AA1000 Assurance Standard Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – EITI

12 GRI principles  transparency –  inclusiveness –  auditability –  completeness –  accuracy and neutrality –  sustainability context – clarity and comparability –

13 Polling evidence No direct polling on transparency but there is polling on trust. World Economic Forum has tested trust in major institutions from 2001 - 2005 Do you trust [institution] to operate in the best interests of our society?" The institutions separately tested, - NGOs, UN, local companies, national governments, global companies


15 Percentage yes minus percentage no 2005 2001 1. non-governmental organizations 29 38 2. the United Nations 13 n.a. 3. large local companies 2 8 4. governments –9 –3 5. global companies –15 –8

16 Conclusions Public trust in national governments, the United Nations and global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began in January 2001. Since 2004, trust in government has declined by statistically significant margins in 12 of the 16 countries for which tracking data is available. The only national government with increased trust is Russia’s, continuing its upward trend since 2001

17 Conclusions continued The United Nations, shows significant decline in trust from 2004 levels in 12 of the 17 countries for which data is available, suggesting an impact of the scandal over the Oil-for-Food Programme.  Public trust in companies has also eroded over the last two years. Trust in global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began.  NGOs remain the leaders in trust, but they also have to contend with some decline. In 10 of 17 countries for which data is available, trust in NGOs has fallen since 2004, in some cases sharply (e.g., Brazil, India, South Korea).

18 Conclusions - final Most powerful institutions are least trusted All institutions are affected – government, private sector and NGO Serious problem if not addressed Transparency vital part of restoring trust

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