Access to Information as a Human Right

Access to Information as a Human Right

Access to Information as a Human Right

Access to Information as a Human Right


Conceptualizing access to government information as a human right is a new development in the global trend promoting institutional transparency. Bishop provides a comprehensive examination of international human rights law and explains four conceptualizations of access to information as a human right. Rights to information have been linked to the right to free expression, the right to privacy, and the right to a healthy environment, and the right to the truth about human rights abuses. She concludes that a human right to access information is evolving in disparate ways. The current evolution of access rights creates a patchwork system of guarantees; nonetheless, the freedom-of-expression conceptualization holds the most promise for proving a broad right of access.


In the first opinion of its kind from an international human rights tribunal, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that access to government information is a human right. the September 2006 ruling stated: “[T]he right to freedom of thought and expression includes the protection of the right of access to State-held information.” the case began in 1998 when the Chilean government refused to release information regarding a major U.S. logging project in Chile to a Chilean environmental organization. a number of South American human rights groups filed a petition with the Inter-American

the Inter-American Court is an organ of the American Convention on Human Rights. It consists of seven judges and hears individual and state complaints against state parties to the convention. the court can settle controversies about the interpretation and applications of the Convention and give opinions regarding compatibility of state law and the Convention provisions. Under its advisory jurisdiction, it interprets the provisions of the American Convention and other human rights treaties within the Inter-American system. American Convention on Human Rights, Nov. 22, 1969, chap. 8, 1144 unt.S. 123 [hereinafter American Convention]. See generally ian brownlie, principles of public international law 544-55 (7th ed. 2008).

Claude Reyes, et al. v. Chile, Inter-Am. Ct. H. R. (ser. C) No. 151, para. 77 (Sept. 19, 2006).

the requested information was about the Río Cóndor Project, an extensive timber logging operation by U.S. company Forestal Trillium on the island of Tierra del Fuego in Chile.

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