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125 members from 40 countries, representing governments, civil society organizations, international bodies and financial institutions, among others, gathered in Atlanta, United States, in 2008 February, and adopted the Atlanta Declaration And Plan Of Action For The Advancement Of The Right Of Access To Information
The fundamental right of access to information is inherent in all cultures and systems of government. A lack of access to information disproportionately affects the poor, women and other vulnerable and marginalized people, and as such the right should be guaranteed to all sectors of society. The right of access to information is fundamental to human dignity, equity and peace with justice.
New technology offers a great potential for facilitating access to information, yet factors that limit access and data management practices have prevented many from benefiting from its full potential. Enacting a comprehensive law is essential, but insufficient, to establishing and sustaining the right of access to information.
Access to information is a fundamental human right. The right of access to information applies to all intergovernmental organizations, which should lead by example and support others efforts to build a culture of transparency. All states should also enact legislation to give effect to the right of access to information. The right of access to information also applies to non-state actors that: receive public funds or benefits (directly or indirectly); carry out public functions, including the provision of public services; and exploit public resources, including natural resources. In addition, everyone should have the right of access to information held by large profit-seeking corporations where this information is required for the exercise or protection of any human right, as recognized in the International Bill of Rights.
The instrument or law should include procedures designed to ensure the full implementation and ease of use, with no unnecessary obstacles (such as cost, language, form or manner of request) and with an affirmative obligation to assist the requester and to provide the requested information within a specified and reasonable period of time;
States and international organizations should ensure a system of implementation that provides for: The equitable exercise of the right of access to information; Training of all public officials on the practice and application of the right; Public education and training to empower persons to make full use of the right; among other actions.
d. Allocation of necessary resources to ensure efficient and timely administration;
To give effect to the Findings and Principles, the assembled conference have found a detailed plan of action. The purpose of the whole Declaration is to be a call to all states, international and regional bodies, and the global access to information community, to establish, develop and nurture the right of access to information across the world, in accordance with the findings and principles enunciated and to commit to its plan of action.
ISSN 1753-6839 Fahamu