UNESCO marks International Day for Universal Access to Information in Lahore

Under its Multi-donor program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, UNESCO Islamabad, commemorated the International Day for the Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) 2019 at Punjab University on Thursday, September 26, 2019. The event was organized in partnership with the European Union, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Embassy of Sweden in Pakistan, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and civil society partner Digital Rights Foundation (DRF).

2019 is the fourth year of UNESCO marking the "International Day for Universal Access to Information" (IDUAI). On 17 November, 2015, UNESCO adopted a resolution (38 C/70) declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). IDUAI has particular relevance with the national development agenda as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular with target 16.10 which calls for ensuring public access to information and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Ms. Ingrid Johansson and the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Wouter Plomp gave opening remarks and emphasized the need for recognizing the importance of access to information for strengthening democracy. Deputy Head of mission at European Union Delegation to Pakistan, Ms. Anne Marchal also attended the event. The speakers included key officials and civil society actors including Mr. Zahid Abdullah, the Federal Information Commissioner; Mr. Mahboob Qadir Shah, the Punjab Information Commissioner; Anoosha Shaigan from Courting the Law; Mr. Nabeel Qadeer and Usama Khilji from Bolo Bhi. The event provided students an opportunity to engage with practitioners and discuss the right to information in the context of marginalized communities and equality in accessibility.

UNESCO Representative Pakistan, Ms. Vibeke Jensen gave closing remarks and reiterated that inclusivity was the key to achieving sustainable development goals and ensuring access to information for all is an integral part of the process.