• 4 April 2014

    FreedomInfo.org Appeals World Bank Denial

    FreedomInfo.org has appealed a World Bank decision not to release a month’s worth of the requests under the Access to Information policy, stressing that redaction could solve the Bank’s concern over disclosing personal information. The Bank declined to redact information that might be covered by exemptions to the AI policy, saying redaction is not mandatory under […]

  • 4 April 2014

    Book Review: Transparency in International Law

    “Transparency in International Law,” edited by Andrea Bianchi and Anne Peters. Published 2013, Cambridge University Press The 20 chapters of this book, edited by two Swiss academics, provide a sweeping survey of transparency at dozens of international organizations, in theory and practice. The editors purposefully did not prescribe a definition of “transparency,” while admitting that […]

  • 25 March 2014

    UNEP Delays Producing Access to Information Policy

    The United Nations Environment Programme has still not produced an access to information policy requested by the Governing Council a year ago. Instead, an “interim” access policy will begin in April, Executive Director Achim Steiner told the UNEP Committee of Permanent Representatives March 24. He said it will be evaluated after a year. A final […]

  • 21 March 2014

    World Bank Declines to Use Redaction Procedures

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank’s vaunted “presumption of disclosure” comes with a caveat – all or nothing. Unlike most national and international right to information regimes, the Bank appears unwilling to redact (black out) portions of a document and release the rest. The Bank’s restrictive redaction practice – seemingly at odds with its stated […]

  • 17 March 2014

    EBRD Making No Progress on Transparency, Groups Say

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is proposing to make “no progress” on institutional transparency, according to a statement by watchdog groups. “There are very limited amendments proposed in the Public Information Policy, which has remained largely unchanged for many years,” according to the nongovernmental organizations: Accountability Counsel, Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, CEE Bankwatch […]

  • 11 February 2014

    New Zealand Resists Pressure to Release TPP Text

    New Zealand’s government on Feb. 11 blocked a Labour Party move in Parliament to force the release of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement before it is approved by the Cabinet. Labour leader David Cunliffe was quoted as saying he was “disappointed, but not surprised,” according to a New Zealand media report. Trade Minister […]

  • 22 January 2014

    EBRD Proposes Revision of Public Information Policy

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has issued a draft revised Public Information Policy (PIP) for public comment. The draft policy would amend the 2011 PIP. French and Russian versions are in the works Comments are due by March 6, They should be sent to Publicinformationpolicy@ebrd.com. The draft revisions appears to be light. In […]

  • 17 January 2014

    IFC Violated Disclosure Policy, Watchdog Says

    The World Bank’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), violated IFC disclosure policies in connection with a controversial loan in Honduras, according to the IFC’s investigative branch. The report by the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman (CAO) concerned the IFC’s investment in Corporación Dinant in Honduras, a palm oil and food company “which has been […]

  • 17 January 2014

    WikiLeaks Again Discloses Trade Talk Documents

    WikiLeaks on Jan. 15 for the second in several months released secret documents on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, this time concerning the environment. Disclosed were the draft text for the entire Environment Chapter and the corresponding Chairs’ Report. The text dates from the Chief Negotiators’ summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Nov. 12-24, […]

  • 8 January 2014

    Leaks Supplement Official Sources at Unusual ITU

    By Toby McIntosh The existence of a special website for leaked documents from an international standard-setting body would appear to suggest major transparency problems. The reality is more complex. The leaks come with a wink. It’s an open secret that the hundreds of documents on WCITLeaks.org come directly from the website of the International Telecommunication Union. […]

  • 7 January 2014

    WIPO Transparency Wins Praise, Gaps Remain

    By Toby McIntosh WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, has been lauded for the openness of a recent, successful treaty negotiation, but the Secretariat has annoyed some members by denying them access to specific reports. When it comes to transparency about negotiations, observers said the Geneva-based WIPO has few peers among international intergovernmental organizations. Documents […]

  • 7 January 2014

    Trade Dispute Body Adopts Limited Transparency Rules

    By Toby McIntosh New transparency rules will go into effect April 1 for the world’s second largest arbiter of international investment treaty disputes, but their impact will be minimal. The rules will apply only to the disputes under future treaties, not the 3,000 existing treaties. This situation could change if an overarching treaty on transparency is […]

  • 7 January 2014

    New Tactic Used to Prod Intergovernmental Plant Body

    By Toby McIntosh A new strategy to contest the opacity of an international organization emerging this year, a watchdog group obtained undisclosed documents through a national access to information law and posted them online. The impact of this technique remains to be seen. The goal is to prod the International Union for the Protection of […]

  • 7 January 2014

    UNEP Plans for New Policy on Disclosure Behind Schedule

    By Toby McIntosh The United Nations Environmental Programme has yet to produce a disclosure policy mandated by its governing body in early 2013, but it’s coming soon, a UNEP spokesman said. The promised disclosure policy is “stuck” in the office of UNEP legal division, according to one observer who has spoken with UNEP officials about […]

  • 6 January 2014

    Transparency Urged in the T-TIP Negotiation Process

    By Celia Viggo Wexler Wexler is Senior Washington Representative for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. This is a presentation given Dec. 18, 2013, at a gathering in Washington of stakeholders and some negotiators concerning the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. The Center for Science and Democracy […]

  • 30 December 2013

    Journalist Sues U.S. to Get Access to Trade Documents

    William New, editor of Intellectual Property Watch, has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents related to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The US Trade Representative has denied his March 2012 request, saying that the draft text of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP is exempt as “national security information.” […]

  • 20 December 2013

    FSB Transparency Evolves; Still Leaves Information Gaps

    By Toby McIntosh The Financial Stability Board, a small organization with significant influence on the world’s financial sector, has moved to be more open in recent years, but is still too secret according to critical observers. The FSB scored “2” on a transparency scale of 4 used by one nongovernmental organization. “It is one of […]

  • 13 December 2013

    EBRD Plans to Revise Information Policy

    The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has scheduled a series of pubic consultation on topics including its 2011 Public Information Policy which it plans to revise. The seven one-day sessions in February will also cover the EBRD’s revised Environmental and Social Policy and Project Complaint Mechanism Rules of Procedure, according to the announcement. The […]

  • 9 December 2013

    Variety of Transparency Issues Face New G20 Host

    By Toby McIntosh If the G20 is viewed as “a big hot tub party” for world leaders, as one observer put it, then transparency might not seem too desirable. But if viewed as an influential international policy-making institution, the application of transparency standards seems more logical. Not necessarily an easy fit, however, given the peculiarities […]

  • 22 November 2013

    Spotlight on Trade Talks After WikiLeaks Disclosure

    By Toby McIntosh The explosive WikiLeaks disclosure of a draft text from the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks has brought renewed attention to the secrecy of trade negotiations. Calls to open up trade negotiations have grown steadily in the past decade, boosted by a rising tide of transparency advocacy and the growing breadth and […]


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) 341-5815