2, May, 2012

The Latin American Approach to Transparency and Access to Information

Transparency and the right to access information is now a reality in many Latin American countries. So how has this been achieved?

By providing greater access to public information and promoting transparency, Latin American countries seek to improve social oversight, inform citizens about government policies and programmes, advance other human rights, reduce corruption and enhance overall accountability. This ELLA Guide analyses various initiatives implemented in the region, as well as the key role played by civil society in the Latin American experience, while shedding light on the contextual factors that enabled the design and adoption of transparency policies and practices, and on their lessons learned. The Latin American journey in implementing these transparency initiatives could be useful for policymakers, academics, civil society organisations (CSOs) and donors from other regions that are promoting improved transparency and access to information in their own countries.

ELLA Reviews: As part of ongoing efforts to ensure quality in our research and communications, the ELLA team asks recognised experts to conduct reviews of the knowledge materials in a given theme and produce a short written response. 

Read this ELLA Review of the ELLA knowledge materials on Transparency and Access to Information, written by Toby Mendel, Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy.

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Key Lessons:

  • Court rulings at the regional and national level upholding the right to information and transparency can build the legal foundation for making this right a reality, even in the absence of a formal FOIA.
  • Latin American experience shows that enacting FOIAs is a first step in fulfilling the right to information. Other elements, such as capacity building for public officials and citizens and adequate enforcement mechanisms, are also needed to ensure the effective realisation of this right.
  • The right to information can be an effective tool for civil society to undertake social audits of government performance, successfully advocate for concrete improvements in public policies and ensure the realisation of other human rights.

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