195 campaign groups demand UN development agenda that makes governments more accountable

195 campaign groups demand UN development agenda that makes governments more accountable - Civic Space

195 civil society from around the world are calling on the United Nations (UN) to put government accountability and independent media at the centre of a new framework for global development. The joint statement comes ahead of a meeting of the UN Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals, which takes place in New York this week – and will include further discussions on governance.

The UN is currently working to devise a global development agenda for after 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, which will set worldwide priorities for development in the coming decades.  In the statement – coordinated by ARTICLE 19 and the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), organisations from 77 countries on all 5 continents – say access to information and media freedom are vital elements for a future development plan. Systems that allow people to hold governments accountable are fundamental to achieving economic growth, social equality and environmental sustainability.

“Creating open governments is a fundamental prerequisite to ensure meaningful development. Access to information and a free and independent media are vital to ensure the accountability of governments and to safeguard development commitments. It’s crucial that the UN recognise the broad base of support across the world for development targets that include both media freedom and access to information” said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

“With this statement, civil society groups from all regions of the globe are addressing their representatives at the United Nations. Ignoring the role of media and information in fostering transparency and accountability would be an absurdity while setting goals and target for development for the next decades. Access to information and independent media are essential to development. As the UN Open Working Group gathers again this week, it is of utmost importance they take account of this message”, said Leon Willems, GFMD Chairman.

The coalition urges the UN to:

  • Establish a specific goal to “ensure good governance and effective institutions
  • Include as components of this goal a clause to “ensure people enjoy freedom of speech, association, peaceful protest and access to independent media and information” and to “guarantee the public’s right to information and access to government data.”

Last year a high-level advisory panel – appointed to advise the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the post 2015 agenda – recommended a new goal on good governance for a future development plan. This goal would include ensuring that people have the right to free speech, independent media and access to information. The group’s report (A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development) was welcomed widely for recognising the vital role human rights play in securing meaningful economic and social development.

“The high level panel made clear that access to information and the transparency and accountability of governments are critical to ensure development. Those recommendations must be made good and be formally incorporated to make to the post 2015 agenda meaningful” said Thomas Hughes.