Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. El artículo está también disponible en Español.

Department of International Law > OAS

Equitable Access to Public Information - October 2013

Multidisciplinary roundtable discussion in the framework of the High-Level Workshop on Equal Access to Public Information held in Costa Rica

A high-level workshop on equal access to public information was held in Costa Rica on September 11. The event was organized by the Department of International Law, the Office of the Vice President of Costa Rica, and the National Committee for the Improvement of Justice Administration (CONAMAJ). Top-ranking government officials and other civil servants at the most senior level, together with representatives of civil society organizations, scholars, and highly reputed national and international experts, examined Costa Rica's legal framework on access to public information, using as their frame of reference the Model Inter-American Law in that area, adopted in 2010 by the OAS General Assembly.

High-Level Workshop on Equal Access to Public Information

The workshop included a roundtable discussion on experiences and best practices in lawmaking and law implementation in OAS member states. The roundtable provided an opportunity for national and international experts to offer presentations describing the state of the right of access to public information in different countries in the Hemisphere along with milestones and challenges in each case, based on their most recent experiences, in particular, with the enactment, regulation, or implementation of domestic laws on access to public information.

The DIL recognizes the importance of the right of access to public information in addressing society's various challenges and in promoting the type of open government that ensures that the administration and workings of public services can be supervised by the public, which requires that they be subject to citizen oversight. Thus, access to information increases public administration transparency and is an essential tool for establishing community forums where citizens can come together to participate in government decisions and work with the administration to devise solutions to matters of public concern.

That recognition has given rise to synergies and encouraged coordination among the various technical areas of the OAS General Secretariat for which access to information is of particular significance. As a result, in its programs the DIL has invited other areas of the OAS General Secretariat concerned with matters of special importance to the promotion and exercise of this right. This roundtable included the participation of representatives from the Department for Effective Public Management and the Environmental Law Section of the Organization.

The representative of the Environmental Law Section noted that in protecting the environment the importance was recognized of everyone having suitable access to public information, especially that in the possession of the State. That included information on materials and activities that pose a potential hazard to communities, as well as the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes, such as, for instance, judicial and administrative proceedings concerning, among other things, compensatory damages and pertinent remedies.

For its part, the representative of the Department for Effective Public Management gave a summary of its efforts in providing assistance to countries in the region aimed at paving the way for the effective realization of the right of access to public information and implementing the components that, from its perspective, are crucial for an effective system of access to public information.

This collaboration emblemizes the importance that the DIL attaches to coordinating and combining the efforts of different areas of the OAS, something that has been identified as a best practice within the Organization.

For future updates on the workshop, please click here » *only Spanish

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

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