International Day for Universal Access to Information 2023

The celebration took place at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights of the University of Oxford, organized in cooperation with UNESCO and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office ofthe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. UNESCO also intended to partner with FOIAnet, ARTICLE 19, Access Now, the International Conference of Information Commissioners, Open Government Partnership, and the Freedom Online Coalition and other actors in developing the program of the event.

Access to information, including through the Internet, is widely recognized as an enabler of a broad range ofhuman rights. 1 It is not only essential for freedom of expression but, as digitalization advances, it is also central tothe realization of the rights to education, to freedom of association and assembly, to participation in social, cultural and political life, to health, to an adequate standard of living, to work and to social and economic development.

Internet disruptions not only restrict access to information provided by the media and others, but also disruptsthe provision of public information through e-platforms and other e-governance services.

States considering imposing disruptions should, in all cases, examine six requirements put forward by the report“Internet shutdowns: trends, causes, legal implications and impacts on a range of human rights” issued in 2022 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

  • Clearly grounded in unambiguous, publicly available law.
  • Proportional to the legitimate aim and the least intrusive means to achieving that end; so, they should be as narrow as possible in terms of duration, geographical scope and the networks and services affected.
  • Necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, as defined in human rights law.
  • Subject to prior authorization by a court or another independent adjudicatory body to avoid any political, commercial or other unwarranted influence.
  • Communicated in advance to the public and telecommunications or Internet service providers with a clear explanation of the legal basis for the shutdown and details about its scope and duration.
  • Subject to meaningful redress mechanisms accessible to those whose rights have been affected by th shutdowns, including through judicial proceedings in independent and impartial courts.
Concept Note IDUAI 2023