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Seventy-seven civil society organisations call on UN to recognise importance of access to information and a free media to sustainable development

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a submission from 77 civil society organisations with recommendations for inclusion in the Rio+20 summit declaration:

Tonya Vaturi (vaturi (@) un.org)
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Secretariat Division for Sustainable Development UN-DESA, DC2-2212
2 UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017 USA
Fax + 1 212 963 1257.
Via email to dsd (@) un.org
cc. Arthur de la Cruz (delacruza (@) un.org)

31 October 2011

Submission from 77 civil society organisations on the Importance of Access to Information and a Free Media to Sustainable Development

We, the undersigned 77 civil society organisations representing freedom of expression, transparency, journalists, and the media interests around the world, are providing this submission on issues we strongly believe need to be included in the Outcome Document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The Outcome Document will represent an important milestone in the global efforts to realise sustainable development. We urge the UNCSD and member states to put free media, transparency and the free flow of information as central pillars in their efforts to promote sustainable development and the protection of the environment at the upcoming Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. We believe that transparency and the free flow of information, including the right of all to seek, receive and impart information and ideas related to development and the environment, are fundamental to ensuring sustainable development and environmental protection.

In particular, we recommend that the Outcome Document includes a general principle recognising that a free media and an independent civil society, transparency and the free flow of information are central pillars in global efforts to promote sustainable development and the protection of the environment.

The Outcome Document should also include:

1. An agreement for the creation of a new international treaty on access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice, based on Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention).

2. Clear and specific targets and deadlines for the adoption and implementation by member states of national legislation on access to information, public participation and access to justice, based on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Bali Guidelines.

3. Clear and specific targets and deadlines for member states to adopt necessary laws and policies to protect freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, freedom of association and freedom of assembly as well as to repeal those legal provisions that hamper the realisation of these rights, which are fundamental to sustainable development.

4. Clear and specific targets towards the adoption and implementation by all UN agencies, organisations, commissions, programmes, and other UN bodies, of access to information and public participation policies, including effective mechanisms to ensure appeal and compliance.

We fully support the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will integrate the above recommendations.

We thank you for this opportunity and offer our further assistance and commitment to the success of the Rio+20 process and conference and the full achievement of sustainable development.

Yours sincerely,

ARTICLE 19
Association for Civil Rights
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Freedom Forum
Globe International Center
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Initiative for Freedom of Expression - Turkey
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Institute of Mass Information
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
International Press Institute
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
Media Watch
Pacific Freedom Forum
Pacific Islands News Association
Pakistan Press Foundation
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN Canada
Privacy International
Reporters Without Borders
West African Journalists Association
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC

NON-IFEX MEMBERS:

Access Info Europe, Spain
Access Initiative, USA
Access to Information Programme, Bulgaria
Advocacy Academy, Romania
Africa Freedom of Information Centre, Uganda
African Network of Constitutional Lawyers, ATI Committee
Alianza Regional por la Libre Expresión e Información
African Women's Development and Communication Network, Kenya
Arab Freedom of Information Network
Association for Progressive Communications, South Africa
Australian Privacy Foundation
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication
Bytes for All, Pakistan
Center for Independent Journalism, Romania
Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada
Centre for Media Freedom Mena region
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, Pakistan
Citizens' Campaign for Right to Information, Nepal
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India
Electronic Privacy Information Center, USA
Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, Chile
Fundar: Centro de Analisis e Investigación, Mexico
Green Alternative, Georgia
Grupo FARO, Ecuador
HELIO International, France
Humanistische Union e.V./German Civil Liberties Union, Germany
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungary
Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, Indonesia
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, Georgia
Institute for Information Freedom Development, Russia
Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental, Paraguay
International Federation of Journalists Asia-Pacific office
Jamaicans For Justice, Jamaica
K-Monitor Watchdog for Public Funds, Hungary
Moroccan Right to Information Network
National Security Archive, USA
Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector-MANS, Montenegro
Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe (n-ost), Germany
Panos London, UK
PRO ACCESO, Chile
PRO MEDIA, Macedonia
Proetica Peru
PROVIDUS, Latvia
Publish What You Fund, UK
SpeedTrust, Bangladesh

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