UNHRC Side Event: Access to Information and Human Rights

Access to Information and Human Rights

Tuesday, 14th June 2016, 16:00 – 17:30, Room XXI

Hosted with the Permanent Missions of Norway and Mexico

The right of individuals to access information held by government bodies is essential for protecting political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, fighting corruption, and ensuring accountability.

It has been 250 years since the first national law guaranteeing this right was adopted in Sweden. Today, over 110 countries in all parts of the world have adopted similar laws or policies guaranteeing access to information. Nearly 70 countries have joined the Open Government Partnership, a multi-stakeholder initiative to improve openness in countries.

The right is enshrined in international law including in Article 19 of the ICCPR, the UN Convention Against Corruption, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in regional conventions and initiatives on human rights and corruption.

However, there is little in the way normative standards from the Human Rights Council to guide states on the broad importance of access to information, and how to provide for it in national laws and ensure their effective implementation. This is especially crucial for the achievement of the SDGs. The report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to the UN General Assembly (A/68/362) in 2013 addresses the right to information, and provides a helpful framework for further standard setting. At the 31st Session, more than 45 states joined a statement led by Mexico and Norway on access to information and transparency, and committed to further exploring this issue at the HRC.

Join us to discuss:

  • Why is access to information important?

  • What are the international and regional standards on access to information?

  • What are the challenges and lessons learned in implementing access to information laws and policies?


  • Welcome from Ambassador Jorge Lomonaco, Permanent Representative, Mission of Mexico
  • David Kaye,  Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

  • Mukelani Dimba, Executive Director, Open Democracy Advice Centre, South Africa & Co-Chair, Open Government Partnership

  • Vira Khoroshavina, Environmental Affairs Officer, UNECE, Aarhus Convention Secretariat

  • Oona Solberg, Project Coordinator, Norwegian Press Association

  • Moderated by David Banisar, ARTICLE 19

If you do not have UN accreditation to access the Palais des Nations, please email [email protected] at least 72 hours in advance of the events to be added to the guest list.