In a world where COVID-19 has caused chaos and complexity, the UNESCO said that access to reliable and verified information was more important as Information was essential for encouraging healthy behaviours and saving lives.
In a message on International Day for Universal Access to Information, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said that rumours and inaccurate information could be as lethal as viruses.
She quoted UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who had said “in the face of this lethal disease, we must do our utmost to halt deadly misinformation.” Noting that there was a need to halt misinformation, she said that access to accurate and trustworthy information ensured accountability for actions undertaken in response to the challenges caused by the virus, as the global community works to “build back better”.
The International Day for Universal Access to Information is celebrated on September 28. On this day, UNESCO partners with the rest of the UN family to acknowledge the right to information as key to enabling broader access to data, information and knowledge and empowering citizens in their efforts to build brighter futures.
Audrey Azoulay also asked governments to adopt access to information legislation and to strengthen the implementation of such guarantees where these already existed. “Governments must commit to the common good by developing the innovative use of digital technologies for building resilient information infrastructures and by creating favourable environments for safe and transparent data collection mechanisms that strengthen record keeping and enable accurate analysis of issues in the public interest,” she said.
The UNESCO Director General also said that access to information must be recognized as a norm in sustainable development. It should also be a prerequisite for countries to respect, promote and protect human rights for all. “As we rebuild and re-adapt our societies to the “new normal”, the right to information must be at the centre of efforts to ensure a more informed and resilient tomorrow,” she added.