The Access To Information Law Brings Together UNESCO And Media In Lebanon

UNESCO and the Lebanese media

The right of access to information is enshrined in a number of international instruments, most notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It aims to achieve important goals, mainly securing the right of expression, promoting the correct practice of democracy, contributing to the development of effective and accountable institutions at all levels, fighting corruption, enhancing integrity, and applying the highest standards of transparency, which is a cornerstone for achieving the “Open Government Partnership”.

At a time when the confidence of Lebanese citizens in their state is diminishing in light of severe social and economic crises, the Ministerial Anti-Corruption Committee approved the national plan to implement the Access to Information Law in July 2020, following the promulgation of the law in 2017, in a process closely followed by UNESCO.

In cooperation with the UNESCO office in Beirut and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Lebanese Ministry of Information drafted a media plan to raise awareness about the law, and gathered representatives of most media institutions in Lebanon in July, as part of a consultative meeting to discuss the plan. Caretaker Minister of Information Dr. Manal Abdel Samad Najd, UNDP Resident Representative for Lebanon Celine Moyroud, UNESCO Communication and Information Officer, George Awad representing the Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut Costanza Farina, President of Lebanon’s Syndicate of Press Editors Joseph Kossaifi, Director General of the Ministry of Information Dr. Hassan Falha, and a number of media representatives took part in the meeting.

The meeting stressed the importance of the law and the role of media institutions in implementing the media plan, as well as the need to raise awareness about it in a simplified language that guides citizens to their rights. Along with the need to establish an e-government to reduce corruption, and help media professionals and journalists access important information, especially with regard to public money and public contracts. The meeting also highlighted the fact that a sense of responsibility should accompany the right to access information.