Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development

By Marylin Raisch

Lyon DeclarationThe IFLA World Library and Information Congress, currently meeting in Lyon, France, 15-22 August 2014, has released a declaration on access to information which boldly and appropriately situates this important goal in the context of human rights, sustainable development, and the kind of transparency and accountability that makes for good governance. The document is intended to marshal libraries and human rights organizations into a united front with civil society in to advocate everyone’s ability to access, use, understand and share information as part of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda.

At a time when the value of libraries (and other cultural institutions) faces a set of challenging questions, this declaration articulates our answers in what I, and I hope other librarians, see as their best answers to these questions, particularly in article 4, which states as follows:

  1. Information intermediaries such as libraries, archives, civil society organisations (CSOs), community leaders and the media have the skills and resources to help governments, institutions and individuals communicate, organize, structure and understand data that is critical to development. …

The document goes on to list how information is undoubtedly the basis for everything that makes human development possible: information and communication technologies (ICTs in the language of the document) are part of human health, economy, cultural heritage and identity, civil and political rights and freedoms, and it is a precondition for reducing inequalities in how people are treated as well as the current states of poverty and declining infrastructure.

Because this document says everything I believe we would want to say and says it well, I am encouraged by the number of signatory organizations so far: 134, including the American Library Association and the Association of Research Libraries.

As the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section, I would urge all of us to urge our parent organization, the American Association of Law Libraries, to sign on immediately, as the IFLA meeting completes its 80th annual congress. Look for a link to the declaration on the IFLA Home Page in the highlights section to the right. It certainly seems that they are living up to this year’s big theme of Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge. By doing our part to keep knowledge linked to the rule of law, so should we.

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