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Nigeria, Angola and Morocco call for an international access to information day

A general view of the assembly of the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, in Paris, 7 November 2013
A general view of the assembly of the 37th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, in Paris, 7 November 2013

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon

This statement was originally published on mediarightsagenda.net on 21 October 2015.

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today commended the governments of Nigeria, Angola and Morocco for co-sponsoring a resolution passed by the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommending its General Conference to proclaim September 28 as “International Access to Information Day”.

In the resolution adopted on Monday, October 19, 2015 at its 197th Session, UNESCO's Executive Board noted that an Access to Information Day is necessary to promote the right to information and that the “establishment of a specific date provides a coherent message at the international level and facilitates coordination of joint initiatives on public awareness and elucidation by organizations in the coherence of a universally recognized day.”

When the resolution is finally passed by UNESCO's General Conference, it will be a gift to the world that Africa can be justly proud of.

MRA said in a statement in Lagos that it was deeply pleased by the adoption of the resolution as it represents a major advancement in the 13-year quest by global civil society to have a day set aside annually to raise awareness about the importance of access to information throughout the world.

MRA's Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said: “As a Nigerian and head of an African organization, it gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction to see these three African countries leading an initiative to promote the right of access to information around the world. When the resolution is finally passed by UNESCO's General Conference, it will be a gift to the world that Africa can be justly proud of.”

MRA also praised all the Permanent Delegations of African countries that are members of UNESCO, known within UNESCO as the “Africa Group”, for supporting the initiative, as indicated in the Explanatory Note to the resolution, and for their stated recognition of the importance of the right to information worldwide.

The resolution noted the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) Declaration, adopted at the Pan-African Conference on Access to Information, held in Cape Town, South Africa, on September 17 to 19, 2011 and expressed approval for the principles established in the Declaration, saying “these principles are essential to development, democracy, equality and the delivery of public services.”

The resolution recommended that the General Conference of UNESCO adopts 28 September as “International Access to Information Day” as a day to raise awareness of the importance of access to information throughout the world.

It invited all UNESCO Member States, United Nations (UN) system organizations, and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to celebrate the Day in a manner which each considers most appropriate.

The Executive Board also requested the Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova, to bring the resolution adopted on the issue by the General Conference to the attention of the UN Secretary-General so that the “International Access to Information Day” may be endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

The resolution will now go before the General Conference of UNESCO at its 38th Session, scheduled to take place in Paris, France, from November 3 to 18, 2015.

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