CLD is working with a number of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to improve transparency both in their own operations and through them of States. Greater transparency on the part of IFIs and IGOs can help reduce corruption, avoid negative social and environmental impacts, and increase participation, engagement and ownership over projects, thereby rendering them more robust and relevant.
Launched in September 2011, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an important means for improving government transparency. Its over 70 Participating States have endorsed the OGP’s Open Government Declaration and made a commitment to take concrete steps to advance the OGP’s four core goals of enhancing transparency, citizen participation and accountability, and using technology and innovation to do so. CLD has participated actively in the OGP in various ways both at the international level and through engagement within Canada. It has produced several reports and submissions on OGP matters and engaged in capacity building exercises, among other things. Recently, it’s Executive Director, Toby Mendel, hosted a panel at the OGP Summit meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Global Transparency Initiative (GTI) is a network of civil society organisations promoting openness at the international financial institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Investment Bank and the regional development banks. CLD has been a member of the GTI since shortly after it was founded, in January 2010. Despite important progress having been made in recent years, the IFIs are still not as transparent as they should be. Since it was founded, the GTI has developed a number of important knowledge tools to foster greater IFI openness including the Transparency Charter for International Financial Institutions: Claiming our Right to Know and the Model World Bank Policy on Disclosure of Information. CLD worked in close coordination with another GTI member, the Access to Information Network (ATIN), based in the Philippines, on the review of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Public Communications Policy. It also produces regular reviews of new IFI draft polices on access to information.
Transparency at the League of Arab States
CLD was engaged from 2018 to 2019 in a project aiming to facilitate understanding of and engagement with the League of Arab States (LAS) among key media and civil society stakeholders, as well as to set clear goals for the League of Arab States to improve the conditions for civil society engagement and, over the longer term, to promote transparency and good governance within the LAS.
A report on the conditions for effective civil society engagement with the LAS, based both on better practices at other IGOs and the policies and practices currently in place at the LAS was written with partner organisations Transparency Maroc (TM), Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) and Maharat Foundation (Lebanon).
CLD and its partners subsequently launched a Charter for Improving Civil Society Engagement with the League of Arab States ahead of the 31 March 2019 Arab League Summit in Tunis. The Charter sets out minimum standards for what the LAS needs to do to improve its engagement practices with civil society and other stakeholders.
Joint Declaration by Special Rapporteurs on Media Independence
In May 2018, CLD worked with the four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission to launch their 20th annual statement, the Joint Declaration on Media Independence and Diversity in the Digital Age. The Joint Declaration, which was drafted with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), addresses modern threats to media independence and diversity, focusing separately on legal, political, technological and economic threats.
Comments on Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Draft Policy on Public Informaiton
In March 2018, CLD provided comments the draft Policy. It found it to be a good start but far more is needed if it is to serve as a stable, effective mechanism for promoting transparency and access to information at the Bank.
Canadian Action Plans for OGP participation (2013-2018)
CLD has been engaged at every stage of Canada’s participation, including contributing to the Progress Review of the First Year Implementation of the First Action Plan, providing our own Proposals for a Framework for Consultation for the second OGP Action Plan, and contributing to the Ideas Discussion for the third OGP Action Plan. CLD made an official submission for the 4th OGP Participation Action Plan.
Comments on Asian Development Bank Reform of Right to Information Policy
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is currently conducting a consultation on its proposals to reform its right to information policy, the Public Communications Policy 2011. An submission to the consultation by CLD concludes that, after important advances at the ADB in 2005 and 2011, the current Draft Consultation Paper can only be described as disappointing. There are few innovations over 2011 and, in the most problematical area, namely the regime of exceptions, there are even some rollbacks.
Comments on Canada’s Compliance withSustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicator 16.10.2
In March 2017, the Centre for Law and Democracy assessed the compliance of ten Canadian public authorities with SDG Indicator 16.10.2, which is: “Adoption and implementation of constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information”. The methodology behind the assessment was developed by the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet) and assessments are being conducted by different FOIAnet members in a number of countries around the world. CLD has produced a report summarising the results of the assessment, Canada: Civil Society Parallel Assessment of Compliance with Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 16.10.2.
Joint Declaration by Special Rapporteurs on Fake News
In January 2017, the four specialised mandates tasked with promoting and protecting freedom of expression at the UN, OAS, OSCE and African Commission launched their 19th annual statement, the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and “Fake News”, Disinformation and Propaganda. The Joint Declaration, which was drafted with the assistance of the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), addresses the difficult issue of how best to respond to the growing threat of disinformation, whether coming from governments, officials, the legacy media or social media.
Joint Letter to UNESCO for Reform of it’s information Policy
In December 2016, CLD co-signed a letter “urging UNESCO to release a draft version of its access to information policy as soon as possible rather than trying to reach consensus internally before releasing it, at which point the document would be unduly ‘fixed’ or final for the consultation to be genuine.”
Recommendations for Improving the OGP Draft Co-creation Guidelines
In November 2016, The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has prepared a Note on the draft co-creation guidelines prepared by the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The draft guidelines aim to strengthen the OGP’s current consultation requirements. The Note recognises the importance of this objective and the contribution the draft guidelines make to achieving it, while also putting forward a number of recommendations to further strengthen the guidelines.
The applicability of the right to information to intergovernmental organisations (IGOs)
In November 2016, The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has prepared a Submission on the applicability of the right to information to intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) in response to a call for input from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. The Submission argues that IGOs are bound to respect human rights, including RTI. Currently, relatively few IGOs outside of the international financial institutions have adopted policies on RTI, but they are coming under increasing pressure to do so.
Engaging the Philippine with OGP Commitments
In February 2013, following the failure of the 15th Philippine National Congress to pass a right to information (RTI) law, in breach of promises by the Aquino administration to the Philippine people and in its Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan, CLD along with the Philippine-based Institute for Freedom of Information published an Open Letter to the OGP Steering Committee asking it to take action on this signal failure by the Philippine administration to live up to its promises and commitments.
Improving OGP Action Plans
In June 2012, the CLD has prepared a report listing nine better practice indicators for a strong OGP Action Plan.
Analysis of the Weaknesses of RTI reform within OGP Action Plans
In July 2012, CLD prepared a Report on the prevalence of commitments to improve the right to information in OGP Action Plans
OGP Information Disclosure Policy
In November 2011, CLD has analysed OGP’s own information disclosure policy
Comments the Public Communications Policy of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
In April and June 2010, CLD and Access to Information Networkworked together to prepare an initial submission to the ADB’s PCP review process, which was published in April 2010: Securing the People’s Right to Information: Will the ADB Rise to the Challenge?: Comments by the Global Transparency Initiative on the Public Communications Policy of the Asian Development Bank. The two organisations again prepared comments on the first draft of the new PCP, published in June 2010: Securing the People’s Right to Information: Will the ADB Rise to the Challenge?: Speaking Notes by the Global Transparency Initiative on the June 2010 Consultation Draft of the Public Communications Policy of the Asian Development Bank.