Tuesday, 18 June 2013, 11:30 a.m., Room C
Free access to information is not only elementary to the right of freedom of expression but also fundamental to the exercise and realization of numerous social and economic human rights. For people to be knowledgeable about the way their countries are run, about their own rights and to enable them to participate in shaping policies and politics, they require publicly held information. Such information affect their lives and with it they can demand change and effectuate improvement with regard to distributive justice, questions of service delivery and many other things. People need to be informed about the natural resource industry, the use and distribution of its profits, about dispossessions and compensation schemes, about the application - or non-compliance - of labor and environmental standards, about public investment, infrastructure and public building plans, about the guidelines and targets of public service providers and the policies of numerous other crucial sectors such as health, education, social services and labor markets.
Freedom of information is thus the prerequisite for people’s effective participation in the political, social and economic affairs of their countries and directly benefits socioeconomic development and the efficiency of government. While these mechanisms apply the world over, they are especially prevalent in societies undergoing significant transformation and characterized by extreme inequalities and insufficient systems of checks and balances. In these societies, freedom of information will help to direct changes towards the general public good.
This panel will explore the role of freedom of information in the social and economic development of countries in general and the extractive industries in particular. It will look at questions of vested interests, transparency and good governance.
Program Coordinator, fesmedia Africa, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Windhoek, Namibia
Executive Director, Open Democracy Advice Center, Cape Town, South Africa
Procurement Program Coordinator, Public and Private Development Centre, Abuja, Nigeria
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