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The International Conference of Information Commissioners adopts the Johannesburg Charter

Photo: Members at the 11th International Conference of Information Commissioners in Johannesburg, South Africa

A global commitment to access to public information – the ICIC

You may have heard about the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) last month as it adopted the Johannesburg Charter (Charter) at its recent conference in (you guessed it) Johannesburg, South Africa.

What is the ICIC? It connects Information Commissioners, Ombudspersons and other bodies from around the world, charged with overseeing the implementation of access to public information legislation.

Including its first conference in 2003, the ICIC has met 10 times in eight different countries including: Germany, South Africa, Mexico, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Canada and Chile.

At these conferences, members discuss important themes – from the value of transparency and accountability, to a commitment to democracy, through to the impact of technologies on access to information.

The ICIC’s mission is to share knowledge and best practices, to build capacity, to help identify what is needed for global progress and to act as a collective voice internationally with a view to improving people’s right to public information and their ability to hold bodies that provide public functions to account.

The ICIC is currently chaired by the Information Commissioner’s Office (UK) with the assistance of a Governance Working Group comprising the Province of Alberta, Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Scotland, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Tunisia.

The Johannesburg Charter – the foundation for future growth

In March 2019, Commissioners, Ombudspersons and civil society representatives from over 30 countries attended the 11th ICIC in Johannesburg, South Africa. For those who are interested, the Centre for Human Rights recorded the events for both Day 1 and Day 2 on its YouTube channel.

At this conference, the ICIC reached a milestone when it adopted the Johannesburg Charter. The Charter establishes the ICIC’s governance framework and, amongst other things, it sets out information relating to its guiding principles, vision, mission, values and membership.

For example, the Charter outlines that the ICIC’s vision is to be the global forum that connects Information Commissioners to improve transparency and accountability. Its goals include:

  • protecting and promoting access to public information;
  • encouraging the development of information sharing and peer learning;
  • acting as a collective voice in the international community to raise awareness of issues that affect access to public information; and
  • promoting the development and adoption of international standards in access to public information including the establishment of independent oversight bodies.

The Charter provides the foundations for the network of representatives to grow and develop into the global voice that promotes access to information rights across the world.

Looking forward, the ICIC’s priorities include developing processes outlined in the Charter, such as for hosting the annual meeting, further developing the ICIC’s strategic priorities and developing a communications plan.

The ICIC has some interesting work ahead, with priority themes and key agenda items for the coming year including transparency in elections and engagement with international bodies.

For more information about the ICIC, including the Charter, please visit ICIC’s website.

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