Transparency as a Human Right

Patrick Birkinshaw

in Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263839
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734915 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Transparency as a Human Right

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‘Transparency’, ‘openness’, and access to government-held information are widely applauded as remedies for the deficiencies and operations of government where government claims to be democratic but falls short of its rhetoric. This chapter examines whether transparency is a human right, focusing on one of its specific features: access to government information, or freedom of information (FOI). It explains what is meant by FOI and argues that within the framework of internationally agreed concepts of human rights, FOI deserves to be listed with those rights. Not only is FOI instrumental in realizing other human rights such as freedom of speech and access to justice, or other desiderata such as accountability, it is intrinsically important: the right to know how government operates on our behalf. The chapter also discusses constitutionalism and the struggle for information in the United Kingdom.

Keywords: United Kingdom; freedom of information; freedom of speech; constitutionalism; transparency; openness; government information; human rights

Chapter.  4343 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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