Rule of Law

More Links in Peace Programs

Rule of Law Program

Our Goal

The Carter Center's Rule of Law Program (formerly known as Global Access to Information) works in partnership with governments, civil society, and international and regional bodies to improve governance and transform lives through a meaningful right of access to information and justice.

Guiding Principles

Access to information is a fundamental human right and a multi-dimensional tool serving both governments and citizens. Enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right of access to information improves governance and lives, making public administration more transparent and accountable and enabling citizens to understand policies, help determine public priorities, and use information to ensure the exercise of their other human rights, including the rights to education, employment, and a safe environment.

Our Strategy

Since 1999, The Carter Center has served as a leader in advancing the right of access to information, working in partnership with governments and civil society groups to pass, implement, and enforce access to information laws in focus countries; collaborating closely with international and regional bodies; sharing international experiences; providing technical assistance; and serving as a resource to advance the right around the world.

Currently, the Rule of Law Program works in four distinct but complementary areas, allowing us to engage at both international and national levels, serve as a nexus between the two, and institute innovative programming to assure that governance, transparency, and the fundamental right to information reaches even the most disadvantaged.

  • Liberia was the first country in West Africa to establish a comprehensive right to information law. However, years of devastating civil wars have left the government of Liberia with a limited capacity to fully and effectively put an ATI regime into practice. (All photos: The Carter Center)

Assisting National Efforts in Liberia

Recognizing the importance of access to information in post-conflict Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed the nation's first Freedom of Information law on Sept. 16, 2010. In advance of the law's historic passage, The Rule of Law Program was invited by her administration and welcomed by key stakeholders to support the process of establishing an access to information regime in Liberia.

Since 2009, the program, with our long-term field office presence, has provided technical assistance and advice to civil society, media, government, and information commission partners in the law's implementation, oversight, enforcement, and use.

Women and the Right of Access to Information

With genuine access to information, women can more easily take advantage of opportunities and make more effective decisions about land use and ownership, agricultural practices and opportunities, starting a business, or education. Yet, in many countries, one-half of the population is limited in their full enjoyment of the right to information and its myriad benefits.

The Carter Center's women and access to information project assesses gender-based inequities in the exercise of the right of access to information and promotes access to information for women in select countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

  • A Carter Center study found that women in Guatemala cannot access government information—to which they have a right—as easily as men.

Advancing Implementation through IAT

More than 100 countries have passed information laws. However, many of them are failing to fully and effectively implement their laws, and at present there are few objective means of analyzing and addressing this critical problem.

To fill this gap, the Rule of Law Program developed the Implementation Assessment Tool to assess the extent to which public agencies are prepared to respond to requests and how well they are doing at providing information. Among other things, the tool assesses leadership, rules, procedures, resources, and training to help governments identify concrete, fixable problems that prevent citizens from accessing information to which they have a right. This new tool, which offers a benchmark of good practice, was piloted in 11 countries and is now ready for use anywhere.

Serving as a Resource and Contributing Scholarship

More than 5 billion people around the globe are afforded some legal rights to information; however, in many countries, this right has not been made meaningful or transformative for its citizens. The Center's Rule of Law Program supports colleagues through scholarship and by serving as a resource as we collectively seek to highlight challenges and advance good governance, transparency, and the right of access to information. Specifically, the Center engages with key international, regional, and country partners; serves on working groups, such as the Open Government Partnership Access to Information Working Group; provides technical assistance as requested; develops papers, materials, and presentations; and maintains the international access to information and transparency events calendar.

  • With a community justice advisor’s help, Boimah Dorley of Kakata, Liberia, avoided illegal incarceration and worked out a repayment plan with his lender: “I feel great because he rescued me right there,” he said. “I began to understand I have to know my rights.”

Access to Justice in Liberia

The Access to Justice Project in Liberia partnered with the Ministry of Justice to identify rural justice needs, develop and implement civic education messages, and fill immediate short-term gaps to strengthen the formal justice system. Over time, this innovative project has expanded, partnering with government and civil society to deliver sustained impact. It currently works to strengthen the quality and accessibility of justice and prevent violence through: Strengthening the Administration of Justice; Civic Education and Community Justice Services; Training Community Leaders; and Policy Dialogue and Reform.

Results and Impact 

  • Advanced the right of access to information in Jamaica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mali, China, and Liberia by providing technical assistance and advice to governments, oversight bodies, and civil society in developing, implementing, and using access to information regimes
  • Assisted government agencies in building capacity to be more transparent and accountable and helped develop citizens' ability to access information to enable their meaningful input in public affairs
  • Created the first access to information legislation implementation assessment tool and tested it in 11 countries
  • Developed a methodology for assessing gender-based inequities in the exercise of the right of access to information and programming to overcome  this problem
  • Produced and distributed various materials on the promotion, passage, implementation, use, and enforcement of access to information
  • Held international and regional conferences to critically examine the state of access to information and to help advance the right through the development of the seminal Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Right of Access to Information and regional action plans for the Americas and Africa.
  • Since 2007, more than 13,000 cases across Liberia have been opened by community justice advisors, giving access to justice to many who otherwise could not afford or access it.
Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved

The Carter Center's Rule of Law Program advances good governance and trust to transform lives through enhanced accountability, transparency and inclusive access to information and justice.

Back To Top

Ways to Give

The Carter Center is committed to creating a world where every child, woman, and man has the opportunity to live in peace and enjoy good health.

Learn More