On March 2, the Department of International Law (DIL) of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented the
Inter-American Program on Access to Public Information
(Inter-American Program) to the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs of the OAS Permanent Council.
The Inter-American Program
was adopted by the OAS General Assembly on June
14 of last year, a charting a clear course for
advancement in the protection of the right of
access to public information in the Hemisphere.
The Program recognizes the vital role of
international instruments in the promotion and
protection of access to public information, as
well as the essential role of access to public
information in electoral and democratic
processes; in state governance, transparency,
and anticorruption efforts; and in the
protection and promotion of human rights; and
reaffirms the importance of the Model
Inter-American Law on Access to Public
Information in the promotion of that right.
The Program also identifies actions that should
be carried out by both member states of the
Organization and the General Secretariat of the
OAS, civil society, and other social actors, and
assigns the DIL a central role in coordinating
the actions necessary for the full
implementation of the Program.
In their interventions, representatives of
permanent missions referred to the high-level
workshops that the DIL has organized over the
years in different countries of the Hemisphere
and the part they have played in the most recent
legislative developments in each such country.
In the last ten years, the right to public
information has been recognized by an ever
growing number of countries through the adoption
of numerous laws in this area. In 1990, only 13
Latin American countries had adopted national
laws on access to public information, whereas
today, 17 laws are in place in that region and
North America, and 8 in the Caribbean, as well
as other initiatives under review in their
respective congresses. Of the 25 countries with
such laws, 14 have created oversight bodies that
promote the effectiveness and exercise of this
right, with different levels of autonomy and
enjoying characteristics similar to those
proposed in the Model Inter-American Law.
On the occasion of the aforesaid presentation,
the DIL distributed the pocket edition of the
Inter-American Program, and referred to the main
aspects of its content and to follow-up actions
it will promote going forward.
To facilitate communication with the oversight
bodies or bodies responsible for this area in
each country, as well as its role as coordinator
of activities to implement that Program
activities, the DIL requested the permanent
missions to designate a focal point. Thus far,
10 countries have made that designation.
The DIL also proposed periodic follow-up of the
Program through the compilation and analysis of
information on thematic areas included therein,
such as the system for exemptions, mechanisms to
monitor enforcement of the regulations and
practices, and the system for establishing the
responsibility of public authorities.
The member states will continue to review
optimal ways to move forward collectively on
this front and the possibility of the General
Assembly taking decisions in that regard at its
next regular session.
⎙ Model Inter-American Law on Access to Public Information
⎙ Inter-American Program on Access to Public Information
⎙ Presentation given by the DIL
For further information on this matter,
please contact the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs of the OAS +1 202 370 0743.
For more information about Equal Access to Public Information, please visit