Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

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FOI/RTI in International Treaties

The right to information (RTI) is recognized universally as a basic human right that every individual must have by virtue of being born human. Internationally, RTI received recognition as a human right for the first time in 1948 through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then several global and regional human rights treaties require States Parties to guarantee their peoples access to information held by governments and public bodies. RTI was initially viewed as a “first generation human right”- a civil liberties issue. However RTI is increasingly becoming a crucial factor for the enjoyment of rights identified as “second generation of rights”, such as access to food, water, shelter, education and health. In recent years RTI has become an essential feature of group rights (also known as the “third generation of rights”) of women, children, migrant workers and people with disabilities. RTI is an indispensable tool for ensuring sustainable development and combating corruption