2 February 2021
Access to information at the heart of the right to development
IFLA has responded to a consultation by the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, highlighting the value of a focus on access to information as a driver of success in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda has, at its heart, the idea of a right to development. This refers to the idea that every individual should be able to participate in, and benefit from, economic, social, cultural and political progress. The basics of this right are set out in a UN Declaration from 1986.
In 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council set up the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development. This is a group of five independent experts tasked with facilitating the identification and sharing of good practices among states, and so supporting the delivery of the right to development.
In 2021, the Mechanism is launching a series of reports exploring different aspects of the right, and in particular how it interacts with the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To decide where to start, the Mechanism called for inputs from governments and civil society organisations.
Building on years of advocacy in favour of the recognition of access to information, and the institutions that provide it, as essential to equitable and sustainable development, IFLA has responded to this call.
In its submission, IFLA highlights the fact that access to information appears as a priority across the SDGs – not just in terms of connectivity, but also as concerns content and skills.
In particular in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaningful access to information has been essential at all levels, from politicians and scientists taking decisions about responses, treatments and vaccines, to individuals looking simply to continue working, learning, and interacting with others.
A holistic exploration of the importance of access to information as part of the right to development would, IFLA believes, help build understanding of the need for comprehensive responses from governments. Libraries have much to offer as part of such a response.