To mark the celebration today of International Right to Know Day, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) salutes the progress made in the Americas in promoting the right to information, and encourages the Hemisphere to focus on the challenges that remain. To celebrate the date, the OAS reaffirms its commitment to work towards strengthening laws, mechanisms and channels for citizens to obtain complete, timely and clear information from their states.
The Inter-American System, through the American Convention on Human Rights, was the first regional system to recognize access to information as a fundamental right, which includes an obligation incumbent on the State to provide its citizens with access to information that is in its power, a principle which joins the corresponding right of the people to search for, access and receive information.
The importance of this right is that it allows for participation in political affairs and monitoring of government actions, key components for the strengthening of democratic governance and sustainable development. The exercise of the right of access to public information promotes greater transparency, efficiency and effectiveness in public management. In turn, it helps to strengthen the legitimacy of the democratic system incorporating citizens into the processes deliberation, management and evaluation of public policies, adding a component of sustainability to them. Access to public information is also an essential tool for the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to a healthy environment. In that sense, having information allows citizens to make informed decisions that can have a positive impact on their quality of life.
In the framework of the OAS, firm commitments have been made to advance the implementation of the right of access to information, a culture of transparency and full participation in decision making for the management of public assets and natural resources, which have a great impact on the lifestyle and livelihoods of people. Thus in 2010 the OAS adopted the Model Inter-American Law on Access to Information and its Implementation Guide, which provides a legal framework of reference and standards necessary for countries that are developing or modifying their transparency laws to adopt modern alternatives and is consistent with the highest principles on access to public information. So far, 21 countries in the Hemisphere that have approved laws on access to information, and many of them have made significant progress in their implementation.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.