Building peace in the minds of men and women

Right to access public information in Tunisia: Towards partnership between civil society and government

UNESCO and the Touensa Association organize a series of seven training workshops, including a two-day training-of-trainers session, in Tunisia, in September and October 2013. This training activity aims at promoting the exercise of access to public information through the strengthening of the partnership between civil society and government.

The workshops will gather officers in charge of information from Tunisian ministries and public institutions, as well as members of the civil society associations in Tunis and the regions (Le Kef, Gafsa, Sfax et Kairouan). In total, around 160 representatives of the civil society, ministries and public institutions, including 100 participants from the regions, will benefit from the trainings. The exercise of the right to access information aims to enhance good governance, transparency and civil participation in the public life and the democratic process, which is taking place in Tunisia. In addition, the exercise of this right allows to improve the situation of vulnerable groups and to contribute to gender equality.

Last July, The Touensa Association, with the support of the World Bank Institute, launched the Marsoum41 platform (“Decree 41” in Arabic), a tool facilitating access to public information in Tunisia. This web portal, whose name refers to the Decree-Law 41-2011 on access to documents held by public bodies, allows citizens to send inquiries directly to Tunisian public institutions, via an online form.

The Decree-Law 41, enacted on 26 May 2011, established for the first time in Tunisia a duty to disclose public bodies’ documents with the aim to promote a culture of transparency and to improve relations between government and citizens. The Decree-Law 41 application circular was published on 3 May 2012, on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day International Conference, organized by UNESCO in Tunis.

During the past decade, the right to information has been recognized by a growing number of countries. The mandate of UNESCO, as defined in its founding documents, calls the Organization to "facilitate the free flow of ideas by word and image”. This mission is reflected in its programme aimed at promoting access to public domain information worldwide.

The training project on access to public information in Tunisia received the support of Finland. The UNESCO Project Office in Tunisia is supported by Norway.