EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: For the fourth year, The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO and stakeholders Saturday celebrated the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) at Baobab hotel in Bijilo.
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).
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Leaving No One Behind!,” a mission in which digital technology is an invaluable resource. However, the unprecedented digital transformation of the era is also leading to new forms of inequality.
UNESCO says to combat this, digital innovation must go hand in hand with the obligation of Member States to adopt and improve legislation for public access to information. Through implementing laws, investing in relevant infrastructure, and engaging civil society and young people in particular, access to information can protect human rights and drive sustainable development.
Access to information is a fundamental pillar towards the attainment of sustainable developments as it plays pivotal role in empowering citizens, facilitate fair debate and give equal opportunities to all.
The day was attended by Government officials, civil society organisations, law makers and the media to discuss and create a platform on how to foster open access to information.
The IDUAI has particular relevance with Agenda 2030 with specific reference to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2 on investment in rural infrastructure and technology development, SDG 11 on positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas and SDG 16 on initiatives to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information.
UNESCO has been designated by the UN General Assembly as the custodian agency for global monitoring of part of the SDG target 16.10. 2 in terms of which all countries should ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
Speaking on behalf of the UNESCO director, Maimuna Sidibeh said universal access to information is a driving force for transparent, accountable and effective governance and paves the way for freedom of expression. She said UNESCO continues to lead in building inclusive inform societies through the promotion of freedom of expression and access to information.
Representing the minister information, Director of Gambia information services Isha Davies said access information has been in the centre of Gambia government’s many development programmes. “It assist member states in harnessing new opportunities of the information age to create equitable societies through better access to information,” she said.