Iraqi representatives attend conference on right to information in Beirut
Iraqi legislators, public officials, and representatives of civil society and media advocacy groups met in Beirut, Lebanon, for a three-day conference to discuss the current status of right to information legislation in Iraq. UNESCO's Office for Iraq supported the attendance of three participants.
The event was organized from 3 to 5 December 2010 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ARTICLE 19 (a human rights organization that defends freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide).
Participants from Iraq were joined by international experts in the fields of media law and freedom of information. Discussions focussed on the current legal protection of right to information (RTI) in Iraq, the impact of the Iraqi media law on RTI, and the preparation of a new RTI law.
The objectives of the conference were the following:
<li>to promote the adoption of an Iraqi right to information law that would meet international standards;
<li>to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of existing domestic RTI laws, and to assess the proposed legislation on RTI;
<li>to share good practices and comparative experiences from other countries;
<li>to identify the key implementation issues that would need to be addressed when an RTI law is adopted in Iraq.
Legislated access to information is the right of every Iraqi citizen and is one of the critical foundations of a healthy and functioning democracy. UNESCO's Office for Iraq supported the attendance of three Iraqi representatives, who worked already with UNESCO earlier this year on the preparation of an open letter to the Iraqi government. This letter, which requested passage of a freedom of information law that would meet an international standard guaranteeing access to public documents, was presented publically on 3 May as part of World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Baghdad.