Access to Information Commitments in OGP Action Plans: A Report on the Progress of Reforms Worldwide
By Alvaro Herrero
Access to Information (ATI) is not only a fundamental human right but also a key instrument contributing towards transparency and accountability to build more open institutions, and generating useful public knowledge. Furthermore, it is a valuable tool to allow for greater engagement of citizens in the management of public affairs. Lately, the emergence of access to information as one of the central tenets of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has become a major driving force in the promotion of ATI reforms worldwide. As a cornerstone for open government policies, ATI legislation is one of the four main eligibility criteria for joining the OGP (the other three are Fiscal Transparency, Income and Asset Disclosures, and Citizen Engagement). Any country wishing to participate in OGP needs to meet minimum eligibility requirements. For most countries, this includes having in place an ATI law.
In this context, OGP has become an important platform in the promotion of ATI worldwide. Since 2011, countries in five continents have included more than 120 ATI commitments in their National Action Plans (NAPs), spanning from legal reforms and capacity building activities to technological developments and dissemination programs.
Although substantial progress has been made in a very short period of time, there is still a long way forward as well as many opportunities for collaboration, coordination and fine-tuning. In this context, this report analyzes the state of ATI commitments in the context of OGP NAPs. First, it looks at the results of the first round of NAPs, for which there already is some initial implementation-related data generated by OGP’s Independent Report Mechanism (IRM), and the ATI commitments listed in the second round of NAPs. On the other hand, it seeks to identify countries’ current and concrete needs for enhancing the implementation of ATI commitments. This will allow to detect opportunities for providing potential support and carry out cooperative activities such as peer exchanges, webinars, among other activities that will contribute to better implementation of ATI commitments.