FACTSHEET: International Day for Universal Access to Information 2020

Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

Today, 28 September 2020, the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) is commemorated worldwide.

Following are some facts about the IDUAI.

  • IDUAI 2020 is the first time the day will be marked as an official global commemorative day;
  • The theme for IDUAI 2020 is: “Access to Information – Saving lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope!”; 
  • The first IDUAI was marked on 28 September 2016, following the declaration of the day and adoption of the date by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference on 17 November 2015;
  • On 15 October 2019, the 74th UN General Assembly officially recognised the day when it declared 28 September as IDUAI;
  • 28 September was initially and unofficially marked as “International Right to Know Day” by some civil society organisations and governments since September 2002;
  • 28 September was chosen as “International Right to Know Day” because it was the closing day of an international access to information conference held in Bulgaria from 26 to 28 September 2002;
  • The African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) played a decisive role in the designation of 28 September as IDUAI;
  • APAI was adopted by African civil society and media organisations at the Pan African Conference on Access to Information (PACAI), which took place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 17 to 19 September 2011;
  • Following the adoption of APAI, at its 50th Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia, from 18 April to 2 May 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, referring to the APAI, called on the AU to consider proclaiming 28 September as “International Right to Information Day in Africa”;    
  • In justifying its decision to designate a day for access to information, UNESCO stated: “The  establishment  of  a  specific  date  provides  a  coherent  message  at  the  international  level  and  facilitates  coordination  of  joint  initiatives  on  public  awareness and elucidation by organizations in the coherence of a universally recognized day.”
  • Access to information is recognised as fundamental to development and to states achieving the developmental outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 16.10 calls on states to ensure “public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”;
  • 21 African countries have access to information laws (ATI). With the passing of the Access to Information Bill, which is currently in the National Assembly, Namibia could become the 22nd African country with an ATI law on the statute books.