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Avatar of MISA MISA 27. June 2019 - MISA

This article was originally published on the UNESCO website. The original can be found here.

 

"As a country that has experienced conflict and a major public health crisis such as the Ebola pandemic, Liberia appreciates the value of access to information in addressing issues of this scale and knows first-hand what lack of information can mean for society— the difference between life and death." This statement was part of the opening remarks at Liberia's UN Amba meeting this week in New York.

This statement was part of opening remarks at this week's New York meeting by Liberia's UN Ambassador, H.E. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. He chaired the first of several meetings aimed at building support to recognize 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

In 2015, UNESCO Member States decided that Resolution 38 C/70 should be recognized in this way on 28 September. Now, the UN member states are mobilizing for a similar resolution at the request of a civil society coalition called the African Information Access Platform.

Participants from the various Member States, including Cuba, Costa Rica, Ireland, Lesotho, and Sierra Leone, spoke favorably at this week's New York meeting.

Ambassador Saah Kemayah Sr. noted that Goal 16.10.2 for Sustainable Development recognizes access to information. He added that this objective is also "an enabler of all other sustainable development goals... none can be achieved without access to information." Guy Berger, UNESCO Director of Free Expression and Media Development, also spoke at the meeting. He presented the background on how UNESCO member states came to adopt the date and further indicated that other parts of the UN family could be involved if the General Assembly decided to recognize the date.

Berger continued: "UNESCO is ready to continue to expand the number of places where the day is observed with impact, such as this coming 28 September, where at least 20 countries will commemorate the occasion." The UNESCO Director also pointed out the day's value in promoting SDG 16.10.2 progress monitoring. He pointed out that there would be a side event for the UN High-Level Political Forum where UNESCO would release a report on its tracking of access to information guarantees in 43 countries.

H.E. Saah Kemayah Sr. noted that monitoring and access to information might improve delivery. This was echoed by IDEA's Massimo Tommasoli, who said: "Monitoring provides a policy-making reality check that sometimes goes without evidence. It's also a good way to check performance." Berger promised the Ambassador that the UN initiative would be brought to the attention of UNESCO Member State delegations, who might want to liaise on the matter with their New York counterparts.

On his side, the Ambassador said he would continue to meet with the member states of the UN, the president of the General Assembly, the Africa Group, and the observer mission of the African Union. "I am convinced that the day will be approved before the end of the year," he said.

APAI's Gilbert Sendugwa told the meeting that his coalition had developed a zero draft text based on the UNESCO resolution which could provide a basis for consideration

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African states with ATI laws

  • Angola (2002)
  • Burkina Faso (2015)
  • Ethiopia (2008)
  • Guinea (2010)
  • Ivory Coast (2013)
  • Kenya (2016)
  • Liberia (2010)
  • Malawi (2017)
  • Mozambique (2015)
  • Niger (2011)
  • Nigeria (2011)
  • Rwanda (2013)
  • Sierra Leone (2013)
  • South Africa (2000)
  • South Sudan (2013)
  • Sudan (2013)
  • Tanzania (2016)
  • Togo (2016)
  • Tunisia (2016)
  • Uganda (2005)
  • Zimbabwe (2002)