UNEP Revised Disclosure Policy Needs Work, CLD Says

24 November 2015

The revised disclosure policy recently published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) “shows that improvements have been introduced, but that far more is needed to bring it into line with international standards or better practice by inter-governmental organisations,” according to an analysis by the Canadian-based Centre for Law and Democracy.

“We welcome the fact that UNEP is moving forward to replace its weak Access-to-Information Policy”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “Although the new draft is stronger, we expect far more of the lead UN environmental body in terms of openness.”

The draft policy “has some positive features,” according to CLD, including a broad presumption in favour of disclosure “in the absence of a compelling reason for confidentiality.” UNEP recently announced its revision and called for comment. (See FreedomInfo.org article.)

However, CLD identifies “a number of problems with the draft, including the following:

  • An unnecessarily complex and potentially limited definition of information covered.
  • The absence of any commitment to provide assistance to requesters who need it.
  • A very broad regime of exceptions including a veto for third parties regarding information they deem to be confidential, a catchall for information which “must be deemed confidential” and a highly discretionary public interest override.
  • An oversight body – the Access-to-Information Panel – which merely advises the Executive Director (i.e. rather than actually making independent decisions) and which is comprised of two staff members and just one external expert, all appointed by the Executive Director.”
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Filed under: 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).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
1-(703) 276-7748