My team and I are conducting a study to identify whether UN departments, programs, funds, and specialized agencies, as well as other international/inter-governmental organizations (IOs), have “access to information” policies, and if so, what those policies provide. To assist us with gathering information, we recently issued an official call for submissions concerning “access to information” policies, which includes a set of questions directed at these organizations exploring how they provide access to information to the public and their policy rationale behind these practices.

Access to information is an integral component of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, preserved in a wide number of international and regional human rights instruments, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Governments around the world, operating under clear obligations to respect these instruments, have adopted laws and policies to guarantee the public right of access to information held by public authorities. The study will also explore whether these norms create any obligations for international organizations.

We are very interested to hear the views of non-governmental organizations, journalists, activists and other members of civil society on the questions that have been asked in the call for submissions. We encourage all interested non-governmental stakeholders to share their perspectives and experiences when gaining access to information from UN agencies or other IOs. Specific information may include examples of good or bad practices across different UN agencies or IOs, references to concrete situations which exemplify the challenges faced by civil society in gaining access to information, and recommendations to improve the current situation.

We aim to complete this study in 2017. As noted above, the official call for submissions may be accessed on the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights website.

Please submit your comments directly to not later than 15 October.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at the above address or

New Study on Access to Info in Int’l Orgs