Access to Information
UNESCO works to create an enabling environment, which is conducive to, and facilitates universal access to information and knowledge. It is particularly important to have a well-informed population with access to accurate and independent information from diverse sources to boost understanding of the decision-making processes.
Media quality and pluralism has increased in Nepal’s urban areas leaving most remote regions behind. Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) are important in supporting democracy and reducing poverty, particularly in isolated rural areas. Similarly, libraries and archives as well as online resources play a crucial role in educating people about their rights and responsibilities across the country.
Examples of the Office’s intervention in this area include:
- Building the capacity of CMCs through training and networking activities
- Advocating for the Right to Information and building capacities to manage electronically-available information.
The National Mass Media Policy
The preamble of the National Mass Media Policy 2016, in-line with the new Constitution of Nepal, has incorporated a commitment to strengthen democracy by honoring and promoting the Right to Information. At the center of this policy is expanding access to information in order to leave no-one behind - reaching marginalized and isolated communities across Nepal.
The National Mass Media Policy has also included the prevision to establish a National Mass Media Authority. One of the objectives of the authority is to improve media representation and inclusiveness.
The innovative policy also mentions the establishment of an autonomous public service broadcasting body. The main objectives of the public service broadcasting will be:
- to ensure access to information and communication among people of different groups and regions,
- to create a cordial dialogue between different cultures, caste, geographic and linguistic areas, in order to strengthen national unity.
- to disseminate quality information during natural disasters, epidemic and human crisis,
- to disseminate information from and to groups that are socially deprived, marginalized, low-income.
- to promote nationally and internationally Nepal’s cultural and social richness through broadcast media.
- to promote national unity and social harmony through media.
Right to Information
Right to Information (RTI) empowers citizens to question government agencies about the process, the status and the result of different public initiatives. Now more than ever, it is essential for the Nepalese people to participate in the decision-making process and governance system. Nepal’s Constitution has guaranteed the Right to Information as a fundamental right.
The Right to Information Act (2007) has provided an independent National Information Commission for the protection, promotion and execution of Right to Information in Nepal. The Office is working for a broader and better implementation of the RTI Act to support citizens’ efforts to make power-holders accountable.
The Office, in partnership with the EU developed the project “Empowering people to enjoy their Right to Information for greater accountability of Nepal’s power holders” from February 2013 to July 2016.
The aim of the project was making the Act on RTI, which Nepal adopted in 2007, more accessible and easy to understand. It represented the first project in the country encouraging and empowering citizens to claim their RTI as well as improving the accountability and transparency of power holders.
The project targeted three major groups: journalists, local mediators and government officials. It empowered them to use and comply with the legal provision related to RTI thus facilitating public information access for citizens of the Central Terai and Eastern Hills regions. It proved to be instrumental in creating awareness among local citizens on the fundamental features of RTI and its importance to their daily life, whilst promoting the information seeking process. Trained mediators have since been seeking information; facilitating and empowering people in project areas across Nepal.