Special Session 2010

The General Assembly of the OAS, through resolutions AG/RES. 2548 (XL-O/10) and AG/RES. 2607 (XL-O/10), requested the Permanent Council, in collaboration with the Department of International Law, conduct a special session of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs to address the topic of access to public information in order to determine the effectiveness of the OAS’ activities to date and to plan for the OAS’ future work.

This special session, held in December 2010, focused on five main themes, in accordance with the mandates of the General Assembly, namely: 1) review of the work of the OAS to date in terms of access to information, including the principles and recommendations on access to information; 2) submission of a revised study on best practices compiled by Member States; 3) presentation of the Inter-American Model Law on Access to Public Information and implementation guide contained in resolution AG/RES. 2607 (XL-O/10), adopted by the General Assembly in June 2010 and submission of final comments on the issue by Member States; 4) first presentation of draft recommendations on data protection; and 5) determination by Member States about the possibility of preparing an Inter-American program on Access to Public Information that will help consolidate the work completed in the past and set an agenda for future work of the OAS in this area.

This Special Session included the participation of the Inter-American Juridical Committee, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Human Rights Commission, the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, through its Department of International Law and Secretariat for Political Affairs. Also in attendance were many experts who participated in the drafting of the model law and its implementation guide, as well as civil society organizations dedicated to ensuring the right of access to information on the continent, including the Carter Center and the Regional Alliance for Access to Information and Freedom of Expression. Also participating were experts from Member States, who offered their comments on the model law and considerations for the proposed program, including the Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (Mexico) and the Council for Transparency (Chile). Finally, the Special Session was also attended by the World Bank, which presented its newly adopted policy on access to information applicable to all branches of the institution.

This Special Session was open to the public and held in the Simon Bolivar Room of the headquarters of the OAS.