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The right to access information is an essential element of open government, and should be considered in the framework of ongoing public governance reforms and a transparent and participatory government. The right to access information is an effective lever for inclusive growth. It increases citizens’ trust in their public institutions, as well as their participation in the elaboration of public policies. It also helps to offer public services that meet a society’s needs. Ultimately, the right to access information helps improve public governance, fight corruption, and involve civil society in the development of innovative approaches.

OECD member countries put great importance on developing and respecting the right to information. They have passed extensive legislation in this area. For more than 15 years, the OECD has been working on projects to promote open government and, in collaboration with member countries and partners, on designing and implementing legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks that favour transparency, stakeholder participation, and access to information.

However, in the MENA region, the right to access information has only developed recently. Although Jordan passed a law on access to information as early as in 2007, it was not until the 2011 revolutions that legislation evolved significantly in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Morocco. The actual implementation of access to information remains nonetheless complicated in MENA region countries.

With the aim of developing and making the right to access information more effective, OECD member countries, and the four aforementioned MENA region countries, have decided to create institutions guaranteeing the right to access information (IGAI). These institutions play a decisive role in the individual and collective promotion, application, and development of this right.

It is in this context that the OECD Secretariat became specifically interested in IGAIs and elaborated this report as part of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme and the OECD Open Government Project. Both initiatives have supported MENA countries since 2012 in their development and implementation of public policies that favour transparency, stakeholder participation, and accountability, in consultation with citizens and civil society.

This report examines in particular the role of IGAIs in the proactive disclosure of information and in hearing appeals of refusals to communicate information. The first part addresses IGAIs in OECD member countries based on specific examples, while the second part assesses their situation in Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Morocco.

This study forms part of the work conducted by the OECD’s Public Governance Committee to increase transparency and accountability for inclusive growth. It is based on the OECD Recommendation on Open Government, which defines a set of criteria to help countries design and implement open government programmes that re-establish the trust of their citizens in public policy and strengthen inclusive growth.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/e6d58b52-en

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Foreword