Road to Human Rights Paved with Information

The SDGs, as approved this month, are recognizing the centrality of good governance to sustainable development. This recognition of access to justice and information, with transparent and accountable institutions, is a huge leap toward creating a framework that enables individuals to pursue fair and sustainable development, as well as their human rights.

This month, the UN General Assembly approved the incorporation of targets into the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which would promote good governance. SDG 16 is to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” The targets set under this goal include reduction of violence and corruption, promotion of the rule of law, the development of transparent and effective institutions, participation and human rights.

The 2000 Millennium Declaration, which set out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), failed to give these issues much prominence, meaning they were not routinely included in development programs (with the notable exception of Mongolia’s MDG-9). These topics were subject to much debate during SDG negotiations, but it was ultimately recognized that addressing them was necessary to reduce the barriers that have limited the pursuit of the MDGs.

Especially significant is new target 16.10, which calls on countries to ensure public access to information. Access to information underpins effective democratic function. It ensures governments are scrutinized, which, in turn, leads to more open, transparent and accountable governance. It also enables the free, full and unbiased informing of an electorate, as well as individuals and businesses.

The right to information (RTI) is an “enabler right”: it is not only a legitimate and widely recognized right itself, but is also a right that is, when effectively implemented, able to strengthen the ability of individuals to ensure that their rights are —> Read More