UNESCO calls on enhancing access to governmental public domain information

Abdul Waheed Khan
UNESCO 20-06-2008 (Seoul)

Countries should “recognize and enact the right of universalonline access to public and government-held records,” said Abdul Waheed Khan, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information. Mr Khan urged action at the Civil Society Forum organized in conjunction with the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the “Future of the Internet Economy” in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 17 and 18 June 2008.

Speaking at a Roundtable on “Fueling creativity, access to knowledge and the public domain”, Mr Khan said that governments should identify and promote repositories of information and knowledge in the public domain and make them available to all. He stressed that the role and value of public domain information, especially of information produced by the public sector, is not widely enough addressed and is generally poorly understood.

In 2003, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace recognizing the importance of promoting multilingualism and equitable access to information and knowledge, especially in the public domain.

The Recommendation proposes measures fostering universal access to digital resources and services, and facilitating the preservation of their cultural and language diversity.

UNESCO also published Policy guidelines for the development and promotion of governmental public domain information, with particular attention to such information in digital form.

UNESCO’s action in this area is an important international instrument promoting public access to information and is a contribution to implementing the Geneva Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003.

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