GTI Launches Transparency Charter

22 September 2006


A set of principles to inform the disclosure policies of international financial institutions was announced Sept. 17 in Batam, Indonesia, by the Global Transparency Initiative (GTI).

The nine principles were developed, with public comment, over the past year by the GTI, a nongovernmental network of civil society organizations of which freedominfo.org is a member. It was announced at an event on the fringes of the World Bank/IMF annual meeting. The GTI is seeking endorsements for the Charter.

“Despite a stated commitment to openness, most IFIs remain highly secretive,” states the commentary accompanying the Charter. “The GTI is calling for the complete overhaul of these policies.”

The GTI seeks a rights-based approach that sets out clear standards for the disclosure of information. The Charter calls on IFIs to automatically disclose and broadly disseminate a wide range of information.

IFIs need to disseminate information in a timely manner that will facilitate informed participation in decisionmaking, the Charter stresses, adding that everyone should have a right to request information through clear processes.

Seeking to counteract the IFIs’ tendency to totally restrict access to certain documents, the GTI urges the institutions to follow the model of most national right-to-know laws and develop policies in which the refusals to release information are based on clearly and narrowly-defined exceptions and only when the harm in disclosure outweighs the pubic interest in disclosure.

The Charter further specifies that there should be an independent appeals process and recommends strong protections for whistleblowers. Finally, the Charter stresses that IFIs must effectively implement their access to information policies and review them regularly.

The Charter is available in English, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Russian and Arabic.

See related articles by freedominfo.org on the disclosure policies of the World Bank and the IMF.

By Toby McIntosh

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ABOUT IFTI WATCH

In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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