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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

US conference looks at FOI world challenges

Rick Snell of the University of Tasmania is the only Australian attending an invitation only conference of 100 people from 35 countries commencing today at the Carter Center in Atlanta, to address advancements and challenges to world wide access to public information laws. The objectives are to take stock, examine the impact of access to information on development and governance, and explore priority actions to advance the passage and effective implementation of public information laws.

The Carter Center has been active in promoting freedom of information laws particularly in Latin America and Africa, and there is high level developing country representation (including two sitting presidents) and strong support from aid bodies including the World Bank and others who promote better governance as vital for economic and social progress.

Pity our own Ausaid, which has been strongly into governance as an element of our development assistance programs in Asia and the Pacific, is not there, as the issues to be addressed include how to shift politics and the economy more towards openness, creating an environment for transparency, examining roles and responsibilities, developing universal standards and using indicators to demonstrate impact.

Come to think of it, all of us down here including our own FOI policy makers, would benefit from hearing some wisdom on these topics. The Briefing Book for the conference includes some excellent reading provided to participants in advance.

Webcasts of the opening including former US President Carter and a panel discussion involving US experts and the Scottish Information Commissioner are also available.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:06 pm

    I am fortunate to be an Administrative Law student of Rick's at UTAS and have had the opportunity to hear first hand of his experience at the conference.It certainly was ground breaking stuff and so relevant to our studies. We are certainly priveleged to have 'access' to an academic of Rick's calibre on our doorstep. Pity we don't have similar access to government documents in australia!