UNESCO supports Right to Information in Palestine

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Representatives of Government and Civil Society met in Ramallah on 1-2 December to lay the ground for the adoption of a Right to Information law in Palestine. At the seminar, organised by UNESCO in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Information and attended by the key actors involved in the drafting and promoting of the right to information law, participants reviewed the latest draft of the law and agreed on amendments to bring it further in line with international standards and good practice.

By adopting this law, Palestine will become the fifth country in the Arab region to provide a legal protection for citizens’ right to access public information. The adoption of such a law was one of the key recommendations of the UNESCO Report on Media Development in Palestine that was published last year.

“We are very keen that our law be in line with international standards, while taking into account the specific context of Palestine”, said Dr Rafiq Al-Natseh, Head of the Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). PACC highlighted their commitment to ensuring a strong and modern law that can serve as a model for the region and beyond.

Dr Mahmoud Khalifah, Deputy Minister of Information, expressed the Ministry’s support for the adoption of a right to information law for Palestine, adding: “It is also important that the law be carefully examined, to ensure that it is in line with international agreements and treaties signed by Palestine”.

The adoption of a strong right to information law as a component of the state-building process was underlined by Dr Lodovico Folin Calabi, Head of the UNESCO Ramallah office and Representative of UNESCO in Palestine. “It would promote participation, accountability, transparency and good governance, and send a good message on Palestine’s commitment to the international human rights treaties that it accessed last year”.

Participants agreed on a number of amendments to the draft law, to better align it with international standards in the field of media development. The text is now ready for submission to the Cabinet of Ministers for consideration.

In September 2015, the 193 Members States of the United Nations included the Right to Information as a specific target among the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Right to information laws have to date been approved in over 100 countries worldwide.

For more information on this activity, please contact: Hala Tannous, h.tannous@unesco.org (UNESCO Ramallah Office)

Saorla McCabe, s.mccabe@unesco.org (UNESCO Headquarters)

For further information on UNESCO’s activities in Palestine please contact Ms. Majd Beltaji, Public Information Officer at m.beltaji(at)unesco.org