UNESCO supports Pan African Conference on Access to Information
UNESCO is contributing to the organization of the three-day Pan African Conference on Access to Information to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, on 17-19 September 2011.
The Windhoek +20 Working Group, a coalition of civil society organizations, is convening this event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press.
Important strides have been made in Africa towards enhanced freedom of expression and press freedom since the Windhoek Declaration was agreed upon in 1991, yet furthering access to information is currently a most urgent issue in the region. Thus, in order to deepen the impact of the abovementioned landmark document and expand it to thoroughly encompass access to information principles and challenges, the Windhoek + 20 Group will convene over 150 key stakeholders to facilitate the sharing of experience and the strengthening of advocacy networks regarding this critical matter in Africa.
The Pan African Conference on Access to Information will produce a Declaration, the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI), elaborating on this right, setting standards and providing guidance to move forward the passing and effective implementation of access to information legislation in the continent. A second draft of the African Platform on Access to Information has been made publicly available for comments on the conference´s website (http://www.pacaia.org/) and facebook group. In this way, the Windhoek + 20 Working Group has sought to ensure widespread participation and the inclusion of the concerns of as many actors as possible, regarding a document that focuses on every person´s right to know, in the understanding that it constitutes a tool for the achievement of all other rights.
The Windhoek Declaration was adopted on 3 May 1991, on the last day of a UNESCO-sponsored regional seminar. The twenty-sixth session of UNESCO's General Conference endorsed the Declaration later in 1991, issuing a recommendation that would result in the proclamation, by the UN General Assembly, of 3 May as World Press Freedom Day. The Windhoek Declaration was the basis of several other instruments agreed upon in different regions to support free, independent, and plural media as a cornerstone of democracy. A decade following the emergence of the Windhoek Declaration, a meeting referred to as Windhoek +10 was again organized by UNESCO in 2001, concluding with the adoption of the African Charter on Broadcasting. In 2011, UNESCO welcomes the organization of this new international gathering by the Windhoek +20 Group, which will result in an instrument contributing to advance access to information, an integral part of freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.