19 March 2008
A second edition, entirely revised and updated, of Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey by Toby Mendel was launched yesterday during a two-day experts group meeting on Freedom of Information and Sustainable Development held at UNESCO Headquarters on 17-18 March 2008.The book is meant to present the basics of freedom of information or right to information, defined as the universal right to access information held by public bodies.
In its first edition, this publication, translated into a dozen of languages, "has been a most valuable tool in UNESCO’s overall capacity-building and advocacy work," said Mogens Schmidt, UNESCO's Deputy Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, at the launch. Mr Schmidt also wished that the book would continue to serve as a resource of "living" information providing technical assistance to legislators and to all stakeholders involved in the implementation of freedom of information frameworks.
At the launch, the author noted that "since the last edition five years ago, we can now say that every region of the world has adopted right to information laws." Mr Mendel also added that the right to information is now internationally established as a fundamental right generated by the right to freedom of expression.
In the new edition, the introduction and the comparative chapter, as well as the section on international standards and trends, have been totally revised. More countries are included in the new analysis. The publication also presents in an easy-to-understand and non-technical fashion the basic principles of freedom of information, such as maximum disclosure, obligation to publish, promotion of open government, limited scope of exceptions and the process to facilitate access.
The first edition of the book (produced by UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Communication) is available in Russian, including a model law on Freedom of Information.The publication is available online in PDF format: click here.