Does Sustainability Require Transparency? The UN Divide Over Freedom of Information & Media in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly will adopt a new set of global development objectives to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of the year. A General Assembly working group has proposed 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” with 169 associated “targets,” including one committing all UN member states to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” The UN Secretary-General and his many prominent “post-2015” advisors also advocate guarantees for freedom of information in the new global goals. The inclusion of a clear commitment to access to information in the SDGs – including factual “indicators” to monitor compliance – could have a profound impact on freedom of expression and media globally, advocates contend. Yet it remains uncertain whether any provision on access to information will survive the remaining months of negotiations before the final set of SDGs is agreed at the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Some developing countries oppose an access to information target, along with other proposed commitments to human rights and democratic governance in the SDGs. But others are strongly supportive, and UN debates on the new goals are likely to continue until the September deadline.
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