The Carter Center's Global Access to Information (ATI) Program 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.
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.
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 Global ATI 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.
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 Global ATI 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.
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.
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 Global ATI 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.
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 Carter Center's Global ATI 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.
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Access to information is crucial in the effort to increase accountability and transparency, improve governance, and give people a meaningful voice.