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Call for submissions: Access to information in international organizations

The UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is conducting a study to be completed in 2017 exploring the scope of the right of access to information within international organizations, including those within the United Nations system.  

Access to information is an integral part of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, enshrined in a wide number of international and regional human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Clear obligations on Governments around the world resulted in the adoption of laws and policies to guarantee the public right of access to information held by public authorities. This report will study how international organizations respond to these international standards.

The Special Rapporteur calls on United Nations departments, funds, programmes and specialised agencies, as well as other international organizations, to provide information on the following:

1) Does your organization have an access to information policy? If so, please provide a link or copy of it.  Please also respond to the following questions, as appropriate: 

  1. What are or were the key considerations supporting your organisation’s decision to develop an access to information policy?
  2. Please describe the process that led to the adoption of the policy, including any internal processes and external consultations. To what extent have your organization’s Member States and Observers, and the general public, been involved in its development? Did your organization face any constraints or challenges in creating the policy?
  3. If your policy does not provide such information, please indicate the practical arrangements made by your organisation to ensure that the right of access to information can be effectively exercised. For instance, who or what office in your organisation has the responsibility to respond to the requests made by the public?
  4. Please provide any data related to the implementation of the policy, including information on (i) the number of requests your organisation has received under the policy; (ii) the type of applicants seeking information (e.g. individuals, organizations, private sector, etc…);  (iii) the type of information requested; and (iv) the percentage of requests that are denied.

2) If your organization has not yet developed an access to information policy, please explain why it does not have such a policy in place.  Please also indicate the measures your organisation has adopted, or intends to adopt, if any, to make available or otherwise disclose information in the public interest. 

Submissions may be sent to the generic email address of the mandate (freedex@ohchr.org), by 15 October 2016. Please indicate “UN Freedom of Information Policies” in the subject header of the message.