Access to information termed touchstone for all human rights

Our Correspondent
Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The speakers belonging to various shades of society have reminded on the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) that access to information is considered as the touchstone for all human rights including freedom of expression and media freedom.

Its special relevance to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is also significant, in which it calls upon member states to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and policy guarantees for public access to information. The IDUAI was celebrated under the theme, “The right to Know – Building Back Better” on Tuesday under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with partners including the EU delegation to Pakistan, the embassies of Sweden, the Netherlands and the global civil society organizations Free Press Unlimited (FPU).

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation office here some 50 participants from civil society, youth, media professionals, academia, international organisations, and diplomatic missions attended the event. It is the sixth consecutive year of UNESCO marking the day as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation adopted a resolution in 2015 (38 C/70) to commemorate IDUAI every year.

Swedish Ambassador Henrik Persson gave the welcome marks by recognising the importance of access to information for building strong institutions.

During his keynote address Balochistan Minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, stressed upon the need for more proactive disclosure of information by the governments to strengthen citizen’s voices, accountability, and transparency.

A panel of expert speakers including veteran media person Amber Rahim Shamsi, former Information Commissioner Mukhtar Ahmed, renowned lawyer and human right activist Ms. Imaan Hazir Mazari and former executive director of Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies Zafarullah Khan expressed their opinions on the need to enhance access to information in the country.

The UNESCO Officer, Hamza Khan readout UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay’s message reiterating organisation’s commitment to promote access to information and freedom of expression across the globe. The right of universal access to information empowers

citizens to make informed opinions thus strengthening democratic processes and ensuring protection of fundamental human rights.