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March 2017

Presentation on the Inter-American Program
on Access to Public Information


Presentation on the Inter-American Program on Access to Public Information

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 +1 202 370-0741. 

» For more information about Equal Access to Public Information, please visit our Website

» For additional information about the Department, please visit our Website

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