31 July 2014

UN Open Working Group's Final Report Recognises Access to Information

Over the last eight months, IFLA has been updating members on its participation in meetings of the UN Open Working Group (OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This process will lead to the creation of a new post-2015 development framework which will replace the Millennium Development Goals. IFLA has advocated for the inclusion of access to information in the new framework, which in the context of this process aligned with advocacy by a number of groups on transparency and governance. This process has reached a preliminary conclusion, with positive results for libraries and access to information.

After the last session of the OWG earlier in July, a final Outcome Document was issued. IFLA welcomes Goal 16 ‘Achieve peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and effective and capable institutions’, which not only remained firmly within the draft despite some Member State opposition, but also includes a target on access to information:

16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

Furthermore, IFLA, as a signatory to Declaration for the Inclusion of Culture in the Post-2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals, also welcomes the inclusion of culture in several of the document’s targets, including under Goal 4:  

4.7 by 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

IFLA is less encouraged by the nature of language in the document relating to ICT, which does not appear ambitious enough in extending the benefits of ICT for everyone. As access to ICT is increasingly critical for all people, whether for education or for eParticipation, it should be seen as a development target for all countries and communities.

What next?

In September 2014 IFLA will provide a detailed analysis of the Outcome Document. IFLA will look closely at points within the document relevant to libraries and develop strategies and tools for members to leverage the opportunities the UN’s development framework will offer. 

Furthermore, to underpin all of its development advocacy work over the next year, IFLA has prepared a major international call to action, The Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development, which will be launched at this year’s WLIC in Lyon on 18 August 2014. The Lyon Declaration is an advocacy document that will be used to positively influence the content of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda. It calls upon United Nations Member States to make an international commitment through the post-2015 development agenda to ensure that everyone has access to, and is able to understand, use and share the information that is necessary to promote sustainable development and democratic societies.

Further information on the Lyon Declaration will be released during the WLIC, August 16-22.

You can follow the discussion on Twitter via #post2015, @post2015, @ifla  

Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, United States, OWG

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