Global Network of Access to Information Oversight Bodies Adopts Commitment to Focus on Vulnerable Groups

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The International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC), a global network of commissioners, ombudspersons and other bodies overseeing the implementation of freedom of information (FOI) laws, has called on its members around the world to emphasize the importance of access to information (ATI) as an instrumental right, especially for groups in situations of vulnerability, and take actions to ensure the full enjoyment and exercise of the right by such people. 

The ICIC identified such groups in situations of vulnerability as including women, children and adolescents, people with disabilities, the elderly, ethnic minorities, people living in poverty, people discriminated for their sexual orientation or gender identity, among others, and stressed that as ATI guarantor bodies, its members “must have an active role in promoting actions to narrow the gap between ATI and groups in situations of vulnerability” in order to enable the realization of other human rights and access to better living conditions for them. 

In a joint statement adopted at its 14th annual conference which was held virtually and in-person in the City of Manila, Philippines, from June 19 to 21, 2023, with the theme “Bridging Information Across Nations: Concretizing the Global Role of Access to Information for Democratic Preservation, Inclusivity, and Development,” the ICIC made a commitment to safeguard fundamental rights and promote their importance, so that all the citizens know about them in order to foster a common international position.

In the statement, they agreed to strengthen the institutionalization of ATI guarantor bodies through relevant national legislation, policies, and statutes; improve the practice of information disclosure in alignment with the principles of transparency, accountability, open government, accessibility and universality through collective efforts that strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of bodies, ultimately leading to greater ATI for all; invite the civil society to be actively involved in safeguarding the protection of the ATI and work collaboratively with ICIC; invite the international governmental organizations to make ATI one of the major agendas in its proceedings; and increase cooperation among information regulators by making further efforts in terms of sharing resources and expertise. This can be achieved by organizing joint capacity-building workshops and training sessions to improve knowledge and know-how for ATI professionals, among others.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. graced the occasion and gave the keynotes at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

The ICIC, established as a global network under the Johannesburg Charter, brings together international authorities responsible for protecting and promoting people’s access to information. This cooperation is centered on principles such as inclusion, universality, maximum publicity, responsibility, ethics, accessibility, respect, and accountability. Its mission is to facilitate capacity building, share experiences, and promote best practices among its member authorities.

Members of ICIC meet regularly to discuss topical issues related to the protection and promotion of the right to public information. The members are dedicated to the protection and promotion of the right to access public information as a fundamental pillar to the enjoyment of social and economic freedoms.