“Access to information is a key driver for taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to promote the human rights and dignity, to eradicate poverty, to build inclusive knowledge societies”, says Director-General of UNESCO Ms Irina Bokova in her Message on the occasion of the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
The universal right to information is essential for societies to function democratically and for the well-being of each individual. Freedom of information or the right to information is an integral part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression. It is established as a right in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), which stipulates that the fundamental right to freedom of expression encompasses the freedom “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Taking into account the fact that access to information is one of the main priorities of UNESCO’s activities, the General Conference at its 38th session proclaims 28 September of each year as the “International Day for the Universal Access to Information”. Since its establishment, the historical significance and the profound influence of the annual celebration have marked 28 September as one of the most important dates in the calendars of freedom of information advocates worldwide. The proclamation of the Day will nonetheless draw greater attention to the issue of the right to information and its fundamental importance for human existence. The day will also give greater authority, visibility and acknowledgement to the issue of access to information and will make sure that it is taken more seriously by the stakeholders concerned, particularly national governments.
The date of 28 September is already marked by a series of activities, including conferences, workshops, marches, concerts, publications on access to information and petitions calling on governments to adopt and implement laws on access to information. To mark the first International Day for Universal Access to Information, which will be celebrated around the world on 28 September, the conference and discussions, grouped under the title Powering sustainable development with public access to information are held at the UNESCO Headquarters. The event is organized by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) in collaboration with the Organization’s Information for All Programme (IFAP) on 26 September. A day-long programme will focus on the enormous potential of information to help meet the objectives the international community set for itself late last year when it adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.