Latin America and the Caribbean celebrate three years of the International Day for Universal Access to Information

For the third year, Sept. 28 is being celebrated around the world as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 countries have adopted right to information laws, according to freedom of expression organization Article 19. Meanwhile, it added that seven countries have right to information bills or other initiatives that are pending.

Moreover, fourteen countries in the region signed the Escazú Agreement on Sept. 27 to ensure access to information, public participation and justice regarding environmental issues.

In 2015, UNESCO proclaimed Sept. 28 as the International Day for the Universal Access to Information and began celebrating the date the following year.

“The universal right to information is essential for societies to function democratically and for the well-being of each individual,” UNESCO wrote in its proclamation. “Freedom of information or the right to information is an integral part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.”

In her letter to mark the occasion this year, Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay pointed out how the technological revolution has expanded the amount of information available.

“These new circumstances provide tremendous opportunities for individual and societal development,” Azoulay wrote. “However, such development can only take place if these opportunities are available to all. In a highly interconnected global society, a lack of equal access to information is a sure way to increase marginalization and rapid exclusion from the rest of the world.”

Azoulay also pointed out that universal access to information is part of Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

To celebrate the date in the Caribbean, there is an awareness campaign from UNESCO with community radio stations, media houses, press associations, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, according to UNESCO.

In Latin America, there is a one-day activity on Sept. 28 to look into challenges for implementing freedom of information laws; access to information, memory and truth; and access to information and good governance. The event, taking place at University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, is being streamed live.