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Right to Know Day: Information is crucial in the battle for global development


Freedom of expression and information are key in the battle to fight poverty.

We believe that the availability and accessibility of information promotes transparency, ensures better governance and reduces inefficiency and corruption. Information gives people the opportunity to make informed decisions, participate in the decision making process that affect them, and hold their leaders to account.

This Saturday (28 September 2013) is International Right to Know Day. ARTICLE 19's regional teams are holding a series of events across the globe to highlight why and how access to information can change lives and transform societies. Our case studies from the regions clearly demonstrate this impact and point to two key policy recommendations:

1. Countries should adopt RTI laws that make information easily accessible to citizens. Those countries that do see benefits for citizens and for improved governance.

2. Having laws is not enough. Countries that have adopted RTI laws need to invest more in informing people on how to use them to hold governments to account and gain information that enables them to improve their lives.

3. To build on these national laws and initiatives to promote wider accountability in all countries, access to information needs to be included in the new post-2015 development goals. As the centre of this should be a target for legal recognition in every country that individuals have a right to access information held by government bodies and others that is relevant to their needs.

For over ten years, ARTICLE 19 has led the movement to link achievement of global development goals with the right to information.

- We campaign to establish strong legal frameworks that protect the right for people to be able to access information.

- We support a culture of openness, encouraging governments to provide people with information in order that they can make informed decisions about their lives.

- We work to support the free flow of information among the public and support the creation of an active civil society, so that governments may be held to account and to ensure that they serve all those that they govern.

ARTICLE 19 pushes the agenda at the United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly is currently meeting in New York. One item on their agenda is a discussion of how to continue to work towards meet the needs of the world's poor. Negotiations are underway to set a series of goals that will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals, which all UN member states agreed to strive to achieve by 2015.

ARTICLE 19's Dave Banisar writes from New York about why the right to information is so vital in the fight against poverty.

The right to know in East Africa…

ARTICLE 19 is helping people forced to flee their homes by helping them use information to hold state authorities to their promises.

The right to know in Senegal…

How ARTICLE 19 is helping women use information to improve maternal health concerns.

The right to know in Bangladesh...

How ARTICLE 19 is working with communities to campaign for better environmental protection.

The right to know in Brazil...

ARTICLE 19 is helping rural communities in the dry zone get better and cleaner water supplies by accessing information and using knowledge to campaign.

The right to know about the big road…

ARTICLE 19 Brazil have also just unveiled a new film highlighting the vital role that the right to information plays in fighting to protect local communities and the environment.

The documentary tells the story of families who are at risk of being forced off their land by the State of São Paulo, to make way for the new road ring - Rodoanel. The final stretch of the road that is being built to complete the ring crosses Cantareira, the world's largest urban forest.

The people living there do not know when or if they will have to leave their homes. If they remain, they know little about how the road will affect the environment, their land and the water supply. The film demonstrates how the right to know if a crucial human right for all.

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