Two months ago, the Carter Center hosted an important meeting — which has just come to my attention — to discuss the right to public information throughout the world. President Jimmy Carter chaired the International Conference on the Right to Public Information where 125 dignitaries from 40 countries met to discuss the challenge of establishing the right to information throughout the world, and grapple on how this right can be advanced.
The goals of the conference, as stated in the center’s briefing book, were to reflect on the current status of the right to public information, consider the impact access to information has on development and governance, and to explore actions that could advance the implementation of public information laws. At the conclusion of the meeting, the participants collaborated on joint statement, the Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right of Access to Information, which the center just published a few weeks ago.
The declaration calls "access to information a fundamental human right," and is essential for human dignity, equality and peace with justice. When governments keep information from the public "the poor, women and other vulnerable and marginalized people" are disproportionately affected, the Carter Center said in their press release. The declaration’s principles include stating that transparency provides more safety and security than secrecy, and that the right to information should apply to all aspects of government at all levels. The participants in the conference hope the declaration will serve as a blueprint for advancing the right to information across the world.
"Giving people the access to information they need to participate fosters greater trust between citizens and government," as the release quoted Carter, which is music to our ears here at the Sunlight Foundation.