The 12th International Conference of Information Commissioners took place virtually on 23 – 24 June, with members and observers joining together to consider key access to information and transparency challenges.
Opening the session, Elizabeth Denham, outgoing ICIC Chair and UK Information Commissioner, described the event as a turning point in the ICIC’s development.
Ms Denham said: “Today’s ICIC is a permanent network. We work together year round, we speak with one voice on the value of access to information laws, and we are truly global. This week we will complete the building of the foundations of the ICIC.
“But the foundations we have built are only the start. They are a means to an end, not an end in itself. We wanted a permanent, year-round ICIC so that, as a group, we could better rise to the transparency challenges of the day. Our vision of an ICIC that can support members and speak with one voice was prompted by the challenges we face.
“The big challenge for the ICIC, then, is not the work we do within our network, but the work we do beyond our network.”
Ms Denham also noted the conference was the first since the ICIC became a membership body. The ICIC is now comprised of 64 members from around the world, with an elected Executive Committee. The conference saw President Commissioner Blanca Ibarra, from the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI), Mexico, confirmed as the Committee’s first chair.
The closed session agreed the ICIC’s Processes Handbook, as well as a resolution confirming the ICIC Strategic Priorities 2021-2024.
Regional updates were given by members from around the world, demonstrating the shared challenges so many ICIC members face.
A resolution was also passed, committing to the importance of the proactive publication of information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. That resolution states:
“As the global pandemic continues, the importance of transparency and the right to access information remains. Recognising the role that access to information has in building trust in our global community during times of crisis and beyond, Information Commissioners around the world highlight the importance of the proactive disclosure of information held by governments or public institutions.”
Closing the online conference, incoming chair President Commissioner Ibarra said: “ICIC faces a great responsibility and challenge to attain and promote extensive access to information. We must join efforts and work tirelessly to improve the quality of our democracies, empower populations and translate the right to know into economic, political and social benefits for our societies.
“We must start by expanding and consolidating membership of new players, who will enrich our actions with their own successful visions and practices. We must also attract new cooperation partners who might bring support in the form of sustainability and capacities for the projects we may seek to pursue.
“We also need to consolidate our position as a global leader in the Right to Access Information. We must find new venues to position our agenda and in this manner gain greater visibility and sensitivity among contemporary societies regarding the importance of the right to information.
“Rest assured that this Chair will focus its efforts on achieving these goals, as it prioritizes vulnerable groups and honours the goals set forth in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.”
For more information on the ICIC’s work over the past year, see the Annual Report of the ICIC.
Next year’s conference will be hosted by the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI Mexico).