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Ghana to host 2024 Global Conference on Right to Information

In a groundbreaking development, Ghana is set to host the 2024 Global Conference on the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

This marks the first time an African nation has been chosen to host this prestigious event, underscoring the continent’s growing commitment to transparency and the right to information.

Minister of Information, Fatima Abubakar, announced this significant milestone, highlighting the pivotal role of the Right to Information (RTI) office in ensuring effective governance through transparent access to information.

She stressed that the RTI office's efforts have been bolstered by comprehensive research from the African Technology and Information Exchange (ATIE) on the implementation of RTI laws.

This research, she noted, has provided critical data and insights, helping to refine strategies for universal information access.

The United Nations designated September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information during its 74th General Assembly in October 2019.

Initially proclaimed by UNESCO in 2015, this day aims to spotlight the necessity of expanding information laws and ensuring their practical application, thereby fostering inclusive institutions globally.

Since its inception, various countries have hosted the global celebration of RTI.

This year's conference in Africa offers a unique opportunity to showcase the continent's successful practices in ensuring access to information.

The primary objective of the conference is to provide governments and civil society with a comprehensive list of best practices for integrating the right to information into the organizational culture and systems of public authorities.

Effective mainstreaming of RTI is essential for addressing the security concerns that often arise during the early stages of implementing new information laws.

Madam Abubakar emphasized that the conference will feature a high-level inter-ministerial panel discussion aimed at enhancing mainstream access to information across government sectors.

"This panel will allow ministers to underline the importance of creating an enabling environment for RTI, focusing on legal frameworks, technological advancements, and sustainable development"

She added that special sessions throughout the two-week conference will delve into advancing access to information in critical sectors such as the environment, health, and ICT.

"Discussions will also cover the role of standard-setting instruments from bodies like the African Union and the Council of Europe, with a focus on various aspects of mainstreaming access to information"

The conference will conclude with the adoption of a statement titled "Harnessing the Power of Data for Positive Change: A Commitment to Access to Information." This declaration will be accompanied by the launch of a special joint publication commemorating the 10th anniversary of the model law on access to information in Africa.

Honourable Fatima Abubakar's address underscored the importance of this event as both a recognition of past efforts and a call to further action.

"Hosting the 2024 Global Conference is seen as a unique opportunity to highlight achievements, share best practices, and learn from other nations dedicated to the RTI cause"

As preparations for the event progress, Madam Abubakar urged all stakeholders, including public servants and citizens, to continue their efforts in promoting openness and accountability.

She expressed her gratitude to UNESCO and all contributors to the RTI journey, encouraging everyone to make the 2024 Global Conference a landmark event that will drive greater transparency and empowerment globally.

Speaking on behalf of UNESCO Representative to Ghana, Edmond Moukala N'Gouemo, Abdul Hamid Yakubu, a representative from UNESCO office, Ghana, noted that the country made a significant announcement that highlights Ghana's role in promoting access to information.

He emphasized the importance of improving public access to information, which is essential for sustainable development, fostering trust and cooperation between governments and citizens, and enabling individuals to exercise their rights effectively.

"Access to information allows people to seek, receive, and impart information, which is fundamental for accountability, reducing corruption, and making informed decisions that impact daily life," N'Gouemo stated.

He underscored that the right to information is a critical component of media freedom and an enabling environment for transparency.

International Recognition and Designated Days:

The 74th UN General Assembly recognized the importance of access to information by declaring September 28th as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

This day is celebrated annually worldwide, reinforcing the global commitment to this cause.

UNESCO, as the custodian of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.10.2, measures the number of countries adopting and implementing policies that guarantee public access to information.

Ghana’s Recognition and Upcoming Conference:

Mr. Yakubu proudly announced that Ghana has been chosen to host the International Day for Universal Access to Information 2024, marking the first time the global conference will be hosted by an African member state.

This decision, he noted, underscores Ghana’s commitment to promoting transparency and accountability.

Event Details and Ghana’s Role:

From October 1 to 2, 2024, the Government of Ghana and UNESCO will hold an international conference aimed at mainstreaming access to information practices in the public sector.

The event will feature a high-level inter-ministerial panel discussing strategies to enhance access to information across government sectors. Despite significant progress since the UN’s adoption of access to information in 2013, nearly one-third of UN members still lack comprehensive access to information legislation.

Ghana's Track Record and UNESCO's Confidence:

The Ministry of Information in Ghana has a proven track record of hosting successful international conferences, such as World Press Freedom Day and the Third African Media Convention.

This experience positions Ghana well to host the upcoming UNESCO conference effectively.

Mr. Yakubu expressed confidence in Ghana’s ability to deliver a successful and impactful event.

Taking her turn, Ama Serwah Nerquaye-Tetteh, Secretary-General of the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, underscored the nation's continued dedication to promoting the right to information.

She expressed the Ghana Commission for UNESCO’s delight at the selection, highlighting that hosting this important conference is a testament to Ghana's esteemed reputation and significant global impact in the area of information access.

Track Record of Hosting UNESCO Events:

Madam Nerquaye-Tetteh recalled Ghana’s successful history of hosting prominent UNESCO events.

"You will remember that Ghana also hosted the Global Conference on World Press Freedom Day in 2018, as well as the recent African Media Convention. These events, held under the auspices of UNESCO, underscore our nation's capability and commitment to fostering freedom of information and media."

Upcoming Conference Details:

The International Day for Universal Access to Information 2024 will be marked by an international conference in Accra, where stakeholders from around the world will gather to discuss and promote best practices in information access.

The conference, scheduled from October 1 to 2, 2024, will feature high-level panels and discussions aimed at mainstreaming access to information in the public sector.

Ghana’s Role in Advancing Information Access:

Madam Nerquaye-Tetteh emphasized that this event is another milestone in Ghana’s ongoing journey to enhance transparency and accountability.

"For us at the Commission, this is another step in the nation's path, highlighting our high repute and the global impact we will continue to make in the area of information access."

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith



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