UN Secretary General must recognise the ‘Right to Know’ in his Post-2015 report

UN Secretary General must recognise the ‘Right to Know’ in his Post-2015 report - Transparency

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017

CC: Amina J. Mohammed, Assistant Secretary General

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

We write to you as a coalition of civil society organisations committed to sustainable development, to urge you to highlight the importance of the right to information, free media, and the protection of civil society organisations’ ability to organise and engage in your upcoming stocktaking report on the Sustainable Development Goals to the General Assembly.

We welcome your recent announcement on the creation of an Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. However, as experts and practitioners in the field, we feel strongly that the data revolution cannot succeed without substantial improvement in the openness of governments to their people and an improved and enabling environment for civic space that allow individuals, civil society and communities to know, speak, engage and operate freely. To achieve this, the rights to freedom of information, free media, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful assembly must be fully recognised and enabled.

The importance of these rights has been recognised in the Millennium Declaration, the Rio+ 20 declaration and numerous UN papers. These rights are also highlighted in the report of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons and in the recommendations of the Open Working Group, both of which recommended that access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms be included as targets. However, even with the crucial role these rights play in development, they are largely unincorporated in currently agreed development mechanisms and were conspicuous by their absence in the Millennium Development Goals.

As you acknowledged in your “Freedom Lecture” speech last year at the University of Leiden, civil society is under increasing pressure: journalists and human rights defenders are imprisoned; internet and media outlets are shut down; and peaceful protests are banned. These issues need to be addressed as part of the SDGs or they will continue to hinder development progress and the data revolution will be restricted to the status quo of limited and unreliable information by the few, for the few, instead of access to information by everyone, for everyone, and the ability to act upon it.

Mr. Secretary General, today is globally recognised as “Right to Know Day”. Governments and civil society organisations around the world will celebrate the progress made so far to ensure everyone is empowered to have greater control over their lives by better knowing how governments operate. Please take the time today to ensure these rights are not forgotten in the SDGs.

Thank you for your consideration.  If your office wishes to discuss this further, please contact us.

Yours sincerely,

  1. ARTICLE 19
  2. Access Info Europe
  3. Accun pour la Culture Numérique
  4. Action 2015 National team-Sri Lanka
  5. Active Remedy Ltd
  6. Adevarul (The Truth)
  7. Africa Freedom of Information Centre
  8. Albanian Media Institute
  9. Amnesty International
  10. Arlan
  11. Asociación Gestión Salud Población
  12. Association Al Bawsala
  13. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  14. Association I Watch – Tunisia
  15. Association Nigérienne des Femmes Diplômées
  16. Association of Caribbean Media Workers
  17. Association of Private Nature Reserves of Minas Gerais State
  18. Association TANSA
  19. Association Tunisienne de Soutien Aux Minorités
  20. Association Tunisienne des Contrôleurs Publics
  21. Association Vigilance pour la Démocratie et l’Etat Civique
  22. Associazione Museo Energia
  23. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
  24. BBC Media Action
  25. Belarusian Association of Journalists
  26. CAFSO-WRAG for Development
  27. Cambodian Center for Human Rights
  28. Campaign2015+ International
  29. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
  30. Caribbean Policy Development Centre
  31. CEEweb for Biodiversity
  32. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
  33. Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research
  34. Centre for Independent Journalism – Malaysia
  35. Centre for Law and Democracy
  36. Centre for Sustainable Development and Education in Africa
  37. Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala – CERIGUA
  38. CF Sange Research Center
  39. CIDAC
  40. Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness
  41. COLLECTIF 24
  42. Comité por la Libre Expresión – C-Libre
  43. Comité Sénégalais des Droits de l’Homme
  44. Corruption Watch UK
  46. Federation of SUNFO Global Youth Forum
  47. FEMNET – The African Women’s Development and Communication Network
  48. Finnish NGDO platform to the EU
  49. Finnish NGO Platform KEPA
  50. Fondation Mohamed Belmufti Pour La Justice et Les Libertés
  51. Foro de Periodismo Argentino
  52. Foundation for Press Freedom – FLIP
  53. Freedom Forum
  54. Freedom House
  55. Fundamedios – Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
  56. GCAP Sri Lanka
  57. Groupe  AGORA pour les Droits de l’enfant  et la paix (GRA-REDP)
  58. Hong Kong Journalists Association
  59. IMove 2015 Campaign Sri Lanka
  60. Initiative for Freedom of Expression – Turkey
  61. Institut panafricain pour la Citoyenneté, les Consommateurs et le Développement
  62. Institute for Economic Research on Innovation
  63. Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
  64. Instituto de Estudos de Direito e Cidadania
  65. Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente
  66. Instituto o Direito por um Planeta Verde
  67. Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
  68. International Federation of Journalists, Asia Pacific
  69. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
  70. International Publishers Association
  71. Interregional Union of Life Help for Mentally Handicapped Persons “Sail of Hope”
  72. Journaliste en danger
  73. Kikandwa Environmental Association
  74. La Ligue Tunisienne des droits de l’Homme
  75. Laboratório de Educação e Política Ambiental – OCA USP
  76. Le Labo Démocratique
  77. Ligue Africaine des blogueurs et activistes pour la démocratie
  78. Ligue Sénégalaise des Droits de l’Homme
  79. Maharat Foundation
  80. Media Institute of Southern Africa
  81. Media Watch
  82. Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
  83. MediaLink
  84. Metamorphosis, Foundation for Internet and Society
  85. Mujer y Sociedad
  86. Mujeres Mundi
  87. National Union of Somali Journalists
  88. NGO Federation of Nepal
  89. Observatoire Tunisien de l’Indépendance de la Magistrature
  90. Organisation nationale des droits l’homme
  91. Pacific Islands News Association
  92. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
  93. Pakistan Press Foundation
  94. Palestinian Center for Development and Media freedoms (MADA)
  95. PEN American Center
  96. PraveenLata Sansthan
  98. Pro Media
  99. Public Association “Journalists”
  100. Publish What You Fund
  101. Ramfa “Rehomfa” Welfare Org
  102. Rede Latinoamericana do Ministério Público Ambiental
  103. Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO)
  104. Reporters Without Borders
  105. Request Initiative
  106. Réseau des Organisations Féminines d’Afrique Francophone
  107. Restless Development
  108. Right to Information Coalition Ghana
  109. RightsWay International
  110. Second Chance foundation
  111. Section Sénégalaise de la Société Internationale pour les Droits Humains
  112. Southeast Asian Press Alliance
  113. Southern Minas Gerais Institute for Nature Studies and Conservation
  114. Southwest Freedom of Information Act Network
  115. Sri Lanka United Nations Friendship Organization
  116. Stichting Bakens Verzet (NGO Another Way)
  117. Sunlight Foundation
  118. Terra-1530
  119. The Climate Reality Project Canada
  120. Tobacco Free Association of Zambia
  121. Tunisian Association for the Advancement of Science, Technology and Innovation
  122. Union des Radios Associatives et Communautaires, Senegal
  123. Union des Tunisiens Indépendants pour la Liberté
  124. Unión Nacional de Instituciones para el Trabajo de Acción Social-UNITAS
  125. Voice
  126. West African Journalists Association
  127. Whistleblower-Network Germany
  128. World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters – AMARC
  129. Zambia Heart and Stroke Foundation
  130. Zo Indigenous Forum

You can download our letter here in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian.