• 18 July 2017

    World Bank Simplifies Process for Access Decisions

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank Board has altered its procedures for handling requests for certain, typically older, Executive Board documents, possibly hastening their disclosure, or nondisclosure. The decision, made late last year, subtly alters the handling of requests for documents that are “eligible” for disclosure, meaning that there is no exemption that would bar […]

  • 7 June 2017

    World Bank Report Grades Malaysia Liberally on ATI

    By Toby McIntosh Despite not having an access to information law, Malaysia received a generous grade in a recent World Bank “Open Data Readiness” report. Malaysia received a “yellow” rating for its “legal and policy framework” even though a “red” score appears to be called for by the scoring guidelines for countries without an ATI […]

  • 11 May 2017

    US Banking Group Calls International Banking Organizations Secretive

    The American Bankers Association is recommending more transparency in the creation of international banking standards and says US officials should provide advance information on upcoming negotiations. The trade group sent a white paper to the Treasury Department saying that the process of developing standards by international bodies such as the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision […]

  • 3 May 2017

    UNESCO Adopts Policy Concerning Information

    UNESCO has quietly adopted an access to information policy. The policy has been up and running since March 1, according to an official from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). A link to the policy is contained at the bottom of the UNESCO web page, although not on the UNESCO “transparency portal.” […]

  • 5 April 2017

    World Bank Denies Access to Document on Access Policy

    By Toby McIntosh Requests for documents about the World Bank’s Board of Directors take many months to process and are often unsuccessful, even for very old documents, according to a FreedomInfo.org examination of Bank records. The delays appeared to have prompted a proposal for “streamlining” the handling of such requests, but the fate of that […]

  • 2 February 2017

    World Bank Report Discusses Accountabiity, Transparency

    The World Bank has issued a comprehensive report on development and governance that includes an assessment of the role of transparency and the media: The World Development Report 2017: Governance and the Law.  The report examines the relationship of transparency and accountability, identifying many intervening factors, such as power imbalances. A section on transparency begins: Transparency Making […]

  • 19 January 2017

    ITU Says Study Groups Covered by Disclosure Policy

    The International Telecommunication Union’s new disclosure policy will cover Study Groups, according to the ITU’s responses to FreedomInfo.org queries. The Study Groups, key committees that draft policies, were not specifically mentioned in the new policy. The ITU wrote: “Annex 1 covers ITU Study Groups under Section D “Information on ITU’s operational activities” / “Developing standards, manuals and guidelines.” […]

  • 5 January 2017

    ITU Access Policy Protects `Sensitive’ Information

    The International Telecommunication Union has announced an access to information policy that does not appear to cover “Study Groups,” important committees that draft policies, and that exempts disclosure of “sensitive” information. These and other elements of the access policy announced Jan. 2 seem consistent with ad hoc practices put in place in recent years that […]

  • 21 December 2016

    58 Organizations Urge UNESCO To Consult on Public Disclosure Policy

    58 organizations concerned about transparency have urged UNESCO to hold consultations on developing a disclosure policy and to release a draft policy. UNESCO has been working on a policy for some months, but planned to adopt it as a pilot plan and to re-evaluate it at a later time, according to agency sources. (See FreedomInfo.org […]

  • 15 December 2016

    World Bank Assesses Access As Part of Open Data Studies

    By Toby McIntosh The World Bank evaluates national access to information (ATI) regimes as one of many factors to indicate whether governments are prepared for an open data initiative, according to a Freedominfo.org review. The scoring system for ATI is generous, but some of the assessments are quite critical. ATI is just one of many […]

  • 6 December 2016

    AIIB Disclosure Policy Called Deficient by Two Groups

    The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) “is lagging behind other international financial institutions when it comes to information disclosure,” according to an analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the Bank Information Center (BIC). The jointly prepared comments on the AIIB’s Public Information Interim Policy were sent in preparation for the first […]

  • 6 December 2016

    ADB Announces Review of Public Communications Policy

    The Asian Development Bank is reviewing its Public Communications Policy (PCP). The PCP, which governs ADB’s disclosure of information and transparency practices, was approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in October 2011 and became effective on April 2, 2012. “ADB is particularly interested in hearing feedback from civil society to improve information sharing,” according to […]

  • 23 November 2016

    World Bank May Speed Access to Board Documents

    The World Bank is working to amend its access to information policy to “streamline” responses to requests for Board documents, but is keeping its proposed changes secret. Under the current system, in which the Board itself must act on requests for Board documents, requesters, including FreedomInfo.org, have experienced substantial delays. The time required for Board […]

  • 15 November 2016

    European Investment Bank Needs Transparency, TI Says

    The following summary describes a report prepared by TI EU and published Nov. 15. The European Investment Bank needs greater transparency in its decision-making if the European Union is serious about steering its way out of the euro-crisis, according to Transparency International EU. The EU’s bank, which has higher lending volumes than the World Bank, needs […]

  • 10 October 2016

    World Bank Official Agrees to Meet With ATI Community

    By Toby McIntosh A top World Bank official promised Oct. 7 to meet with representatives of the access to information community early in 2017 to discuss World Bank activities in the ATI area. The Bank remains committed to ATI, with regional and national Bank offices now taking the lead, said Debbie Wetzel, Senior Director of […]

  • 5 October 2016

    Kim Dodges Question About World Bank ATI Capacity

    By Toby McIntosh World Bank President Jim Yong Kim Oct. 5 dodged a question about why the Bank decimated its staff capacity to work on access to information issues. The president sidestepped the inquiry at a public meeting with civil society organization by saying the Bank never had “an access to information unit” and so […]

  • 5 October 2016

    World Bank Board to Decide On Releasing 1971 Document

    The World Bank Board may soon decide whether to release the full transcript of a 1971 meeting. Five pages on an unknown topic were blacked out from the 18-page, 45-year-old document requested by FreedomInfo.org. The transcript is of the 1971 meeting of the Bank Executive Directors. There were about agenda items, including one about an […]

  • 12 September 2016

    World Bank Invites Comment About Governance Report

    The World Bank has requested public comment — by Sept. 16 — on a new version of a controversial report about the role of power imbalances in development policy. The “Green Cover” version of the 2017 World Development Report (WDR), posted Sept. 9 on the Bank website, addresses the general topic of governance. It “seeks […]

  • 11 September 2016

    UN Rapporteur Exploring Access to Info Among IOs

    In an unprecedented “call for submissions,” intended to lay the basis for a major report in 2017, a UN Special Rapporteur has asked all UN bodies and other international intergovernmental organizations about their policies on public access to information. The request came from David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right […]

  • 1 September 2016

    UNESCO Outlines Ways to Measure ATI Implementation

    In preparation for a Sept. 19 “expert” meeting in Indonesia, UNESCO has outlined potential methodologies for measuring the implementation of access to information (ATI) laws (text). Measurement of implementation is necessary as part of the Sustainable Development Goals process. Indicator Goal 16.10.2 states: “Number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for […]


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