Bridging Information Across Nations: Concretizing the Global Role of Access to Information for Democratic Preservation, Inclusivity, and Development

June 21, 2023

The members of the International Conference of Information Commissioners, gathered on June 21, 2023, during the 14th Edition of their Annual Conference, held virtually and in the City of Manila, Philippines, issue the following statement:

Recalling that, in accordance with the Johannesburg Charter, the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) is a global network which allows international cooperation between member authorities responsible for protecting and promoting people’s Access to Information (ATI), through capacity building and the exchange of experiences and best practices on basis of the principles of inclusion, universality, maximum publicity, responsibility, ethics and accessibility. respect and accountability.

Considering that the ATI is enshrined in several international and regional human rights treaties, including: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the United Nations Convention against Corruption; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the American Convention on Human Rights; the European Convention on Human Rights; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Human Rights Declaration; the Convention on Access to Official Documents from the Council of Europe; the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, among others.

Noting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, which provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, includes the target 16.10 which aims to ensure ATI and the protection of fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements, urging countries to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for ATI.

Recognizing the importance of guaranteeing ATI and the protection of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, in accordance with national legislation, policies, and international instruments, as fundamental pillars to social, economic and democratic governance.

Recalling that the Tashkent Declaration on Universal Access to Information highlighted the important role played by independent oversight bodies, such as information commissioners, in ensuring the implementation of legal frameworks for ATI. In addition, it also recognized the challenges that come with using the Internet and digital platforms to create an enabling, secure, and inclusive environment for the ATI.

Highlighting that the successful implementation of ATI requires that guarantor bodies operate independently at every level of jurisdiction, as this ensures that all individuals, regardless of their location or position, have ATI.

Emphasizing that building the capacity of public authorities and strengthening civil society and individuals to exercise their rights are crucial for promoting the ATI and transparency.

Recognizing that the emergence and use of new technologies, while bringing many great economic and social benefits, has the potential to create new governance challenges including the potential to exacerbate inequality gaps between various sectors of the population.

Recognizing the role played by civil society and media in promoting and supporting the effective implementation of ATI to empower the citizens.

Recognizing that all ATI guarantor bodies have a crucial role to play in contributing to the bigger community of ATI practitioners.

The ICIC Members are committed:

To endorse the commitment to safeguard fundamental rights as institutions in charge of guaranteeing ATI and transparency, as well as promoting their importance, so that all the citizens know about these actions.

To strengthen the institutionalization of ATI guarantor bodies through relevant national legislation, policies, and statutes.

To improve the practice of information disclosure in alignment with the principles of transparency, accountability, open government, accessibility and universality through collective efforts that strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of these bodies, ultimately leading to greater ATI for all.

To invite the civil society to be actively involved in safeguarding the protection of the ATI.

To invite the international governmental organizations to make ATI one of the major agendas in its proceedings.

To increase cooperation among information regulators by making further efforts in terms of sharing resources and expertise. This can be achieved by organizing joint capacity building workshops and training sessions to improve knowledge and know-how for ATI professionals.

To address common challenges and finding solutions to complex cases we are dealing with to significantly enhance ATI right and help Commissioners, Ombudspersons, and oversight bodies to better fulfill their mandate.

To promote the correct and autonomous functioning of ATI guarantor bodies and oversight institutions given their key role in maintaining transparency and accountability in the dissemination of information. By doing so, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information, which is essential for informed decision-making.

To ensure that we continue to provide effective and efficient services to our stakeholders we will remain adaptive and innovative in our implementation practices, while also considering the latest norms, concepts, and innovations that impact ATI. Delivering our services, it is crucial that we adapt to the ever-changing landscape of governance.

To address as part of our implementation the interplay between ATI mechanisms and cultures and how these shape the minds of the people and the societies they create. Bringing into action an equitable and efficient ATI mechanism is tantamount to providing an improved quality of life to the people.

To enrich our institutions’ capabilities to fulfill our mandates, equip our personnel with relevant skills, and encourage exchange of knowledge, opportunities, and challenges within our networks to constantly propel advance our ATI agenda across local, regional, and global landscapes.

To emphasize the importance of ATI as an instrumental right, especially for groups in situations of vulnerability such as women, children and adolescents, people with disabilities, the elderly, afro descendants, people living in poverty, LGBT+, among others, to ensure the guarantee of other human rights and the access to better living conditions. Therefore, ATI guarantor bodies must have an active role in promoting actions to narrow the gap between ATI and groups in situations of vulnerability.

To promote the exchange of good practices in order to consolidate worldwide replication, urging more institutions to take part and that this global network serves as a reference, guaranteeing universality.

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