The United Nations (UN) International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) is annually observed across the globe on 28 September to spread awareness concerning the need to expand laws related to information and their actual implementation.
- The expansion of these laws helps in building inclusive institutions to access the world.
- 28th September 2023 marks the 4th observance of UN’s IDUAI.
The theme of IDUAI 2023 is “The importance of the online space for access to information”.
- The theme focuses that internet access is a gateway for accessing information, playing a pivotal role in empowering individuals with knowledge and achieving the UN 2030 Agenda
i.In 2015, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference adopted 38 C/ Resolution 57 and proclaimed the 28th September of every year as the IDUAI
- Since 2016, UNESCO commemorats the Day by organizing a Global Conference and several national events all over the world.
ii.On 15 October 2019, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in its 74th session adopted a resolution A/RES/74/5 and declared the 28th September of every year as the IDUAI, recognizing its role in development, democracy, and equality.
iii.The first UN IDUAI was observed on 28 September 2020.
Global Conference 2023:
UNESCO organised the Global Conference on Universal Access to Information 2023 on the necessity of the importance of the online space for access to information on 28 September 2023, at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Mansfield College, Oxford University, Oxford , The United Kingdom (UK).
- The Opening session of the conference was followed by the High-level roundtable, which discussed the access to information and internet disruptions in the context of the Vienna Declaration adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993.
Critical Role of Internet Access:
i.The Internet has become a vital tool for accessing and disseminating information in the digital age. Internet access is vital for exercising freedom of expression, a fundamental human right.
ii.As digitalization advances, it becomes increasingly crucial for ensuring not only freedom of expression but also progress in education, and social participation, ultimately promoting a more inclusive and equitable society.
iii.Blocking access to the internet is a clear breach of human rights.
- Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explicitly upholds the freedom to seek, receive, and share information.
i.According to the 2022 UNESCO report on public access to information, 138 nations currently have laws that safeguard access to information.
- 10% of UK Citizens have used Access to Information Laws to access information.
ii.Digital technologies shape the way we communicate and access information globally yet in Africa.
- For example, only 40% of people use the Internet, compared to 66% globally.
iii.As of May 19, 2023, 13 states in India have imposed a total of 33 shutdowns already in 2023, according to Software Freedom Law Center, India (Partner of Access Now).