The International Day for Universal Access to Information, which is celebrated annually on 28 September, comes at a time when the whole world is suffering the devastating effects of the global financial crisis and economic crisis in the United States of America. It is an opportunity to reflect on how the law has fared in our country so far and to consider measures to make it better. This coincides with the adoption of a democratic law on access to information in Zimbabwe, which follows the adoption of the Freedom of Information Act.
On the International Day for Universal Access to Information, we want to condemn governments that block free access to information on the Internet, call on them to adopt information laws that guarantee and protect access, and call for their cooperation and good governance. Let us be citizens of the cooperation of our governments in seeking better access to information in the years to come and let us all cooperate with the cooperation of our government in the area of good governance for the benefit of all Zimbabweans, not only this year but also in the years to come.
We encourage civil society organisations to continue to work for better access to information in countries that already have and do not have it, and to develop better information laws. UNESCO hopes that this will allow more countries to pass FOI laws, develop strategies for multilingualism and cultural diversity in cyberspace, and ensure the integration of women, men and people with disabilities.
For more information, please visit the UNESCO website for access to information and the after-movie of the IPDCtalks 2017 in Paris. Sustainable development through access to information: The theme of this conference will be “Good laws, practices and open societies.” To mark this occasion, we will organise a global series of events aimed at highlighting the role of civil society organisations in the development of open information laws and practices.
Recognising that access to free information on the Internet is essential to enable people’s right to dignity and equality, we can achieve universal access for all South Africans by developing open information laws, practices and open societies. It is possible to achieve a just and responsible society if we promote an open society, free from barriers to access and free from discrimination and oppression. We are drawing the attention of all stakeholders and showing that strengthening the media and institutions that help to ensure access is the key to achieving the SDGs in their entirety.
The measures we are taking today will confirm the importance of working together to improve and promote access to information, “Ambassador Kemayah said. We reaffirm our commitment to promoting democracy and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to promoting freedom of the press and expression.
We identify a number of other SDGs that could benefit from access to information, including ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere, ensuring healthy lives and well-being – for all; ensuring the protection of human rights, human dignity and the rights of women and children; promoting a peaceful and inclusive society; and reducing inequality in our countries. Access to knowledge, in particular information and information, is a central pillar in building a knowledge society.
Moreover, universal access to information, according to the UN, means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and share information. It is bound by the rights of the press, which is therefore bound by the right to universal access to information, and therefore also by the right to freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. The right to seek and receive information is an integral part of our rights and freedoms of expression and a fundamental right.
But the right to universal access to information goes far beyond public health, as it is a fundamental right to the protection of human rights and freedom of expression, as well as human dignity. UNESCO reminds us every year that access to information is the impact we all feel, not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world.
Access to information is directly linked to guaranteeing public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms. UNESCO elevates widespread admittance to data and information through its Information and Knowledge Program (IFAP), which causes Member States to take advantage of the new lucky breaks of the data age to make a reasonable society through better admittance to data. This framework aims to promote the right of access to information and to guide states in adopting information laws.
Universal access is also crucial to recognising the goal of developing inclusive knowledge societies. The International Day for Universal Access to Information is intended to raise awareness of the importance of the right of access to information and to provide an opportunity for dialogue on the need for a more inclusive knowledge society. This comes at a time when the government is reiterating its commitment to comprehensive socio-economic and political reform in the face of growing pressure from the international community on Zimbabwe to comply with its constitutional obligations. This is therefore a good opportunity to demonstrate the value of a right to information in times of crisis and to call for action to protect fundamental freedoms.