2020 International Day for Universal Access to Information to Hold Online

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, UNESCO

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) will take place entirely online. It will highlight the key role of access to information in saving lives and mitigating the impact of crises such as the current pandemic, as well as in shaping sustainable policies. 

The 2020 edition of IDUAI will be the first commemoration since its proclamation at UN level by the 74th UN General Assembly in recognition of the significant role access to information plays in the development of a country. Prior to this, IDUAI had been proclaimed by theUnited Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s General Conference in 2015, following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring September 28 of every year as IDUAI.  

Commemorated around the slogan “Access to Information – Saving lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope.” This year’s theme will focus on “Access to information in times of crisis”, and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. 

The event will contribute to the exchange of good practices and guidelines on the right to access information. 

The celebration of September 28, 2020, will serve as an opportunity to call on the Member States to enact and fully implement Right of Access to Information laws, by showing their unique value in times of crisis.

During the commemoration, participants will advocate for sound constitutional, statutory and policy guarantees for access to information and their implementation in times of crisis. The endorsement of principles related to the right to information in crisis management will be complemented by discussions on the role of various stakeholders in that regard.

The celebrations will also showcase the impact of proactive disclosure of information on health, education and inclusive and gender-sensitive initiatives. When authorities fail to proactively share health-related information and data or block access to such information, populations are susceptible to adverse impacts and cannot fully enjoy their right to health.

Informing citizens in times of crisis should be an integral component of any campaign aimed to address health emergencies. Policies and practices that could be put in place to advance public access to information, will be the second theme of the IDUAI 2020.

To launch the 2020 International Day for Universal Access to Information and its themes, UNESCO will organize a high-level online panel, “Access of Information – Saving lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope!,” set to take place online on September 28, 2020. The online panel will open with statements from the UNESCO representative; it will also include statements made by representatives of the Liberian and Uzbek governments on the importance of the day, as well as interventions from UN partners, followed by Open Talks session.

In addition, Access to Information, transparency and openness are the international standard which is taking forward Agenda 2030 in times of crisis in a webinar organized together with the Open Government Partnership. The webinar will address the role of access to information legislation on crisis management and inequality reduction.

Furthermore, the event will also feature “Access to Information implementation and Crisis Resolution during COVID-19 Outbreak” organized with the Information Commissioners International Conference. The webinar will examine how access to information can save lives in times of crises, with special attention drawn to the role of digital technology in implementation processes and the future of the right to information.

The Global Forum for Media Development, the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Program will also organise a webinar which will focus on how monitoring and reporting on progress on access to Information can provide meaningful insights for the achievement of SDGs. The webinar will also consider the effects of monitoring and reporting on planning economic development and mitigating health crises.