…Declaring September 28 as Int’l Day for UAI
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, unanimously adopted a resolution submitted and sponsored by Liberia under the title, “Proclamation of September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information (UAI).”
Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who introduced the resolution to the UNGA for adoption, described access to information as “essential for the democratic functioning of a society — shaping political, social and economic perspectives; and vital for the sustainable development of countries.”
Amb. Kemayah said that access to information was an enabler of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), facilitating both implementation and the measurement of progress.
He continued, “Recognized by the new United Nations development framework– the SDGs under Goal 16.10.2; access to information, serves as an enabler of all other SDGs; whether it is ending poverty in all of its forms, everywhere; ensuring healthy lives and well-being; ensuring equitable education, gender equality and women’s empowerment; youth empowerment; promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; or reducing inequalities; within and among countries. None of these SDGs can be achieved without access to information. The progress towards achieving the SDGs cannot be measured without access to information.”
The resolution, unanimously adopted by UNGA, draws on Resolution 38 C/70, adopted unanimously by the Member States of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its General Conference in Paris, France, in 2015, proclaiming September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information–a day that is celebrated by several countries and civil society organizations (CSOs) annually.
According to a dispatch from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations, Amb. Kemayah highlighted that the resolution will not only send a clear and important message globally of the commitment of UN Member States to enhancing access to information and achieving the SDGs; but also creates the “biggest global platform” for governments, civil society organizations, citizens and development partners to reflect on the importance of access to information; identify challenges and design new and innovative ways to promote the advancement of access to information; as a tangible tool for development and the realization of the SDGs.
Amb. Kemayah used the occasion to reaffirm President George Weah’s commitment to issues of access to information.
“We affirm the unflinching practical commitment of President Weah and the Government of Liberia to promoting access to information, advancing press freedom, freedom of expression and the achievement of the SDGs,” Amb. Kemayah said.
While reflecting on the process leading to the adoption of the resolution by the UNGA, which began in June 2019 under the leadership of Amb. Kemayah, the Liberian Envoy told the UNGA that the resolution was the result of the dedicated work of many United Nations member states– small and large, from different regions of the world; and emphasized that such broad and diverse ownership demonstrates the truly global nature of the resolution on access to information.
Kemayah also commended United Nations Member States, especially those who co-sponsored the resolution for their support to his leadership throughout the process leading to the adoption of the Resolution, “Proclamation of September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information.”
“We commend the delegations of Sierra Leone and Costa Rica and the many co-sponsors for their unwavering support to our leadership on this noteworthy endeavor; and more importantly for joining us for this initiative, ” Amb. Kemayah said.
He thanked the many countries from different regions and international partners and civil society organizations, including, but not limited to UNESCO, and the African Platform for Access to Information (APAI), the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), and all other media institutions around the world, who have championed initiatives promoting access to information over the years.
He encouraged all United Nations member states, international partners, and civil society organizations to continue working together and prioritize enhancing access to information, as a pivotal and tangible tool to ensuring achievement and assessing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
It can be recalled that the last time Liberia submitted and was the main sponsor of a resolution for adoption at the United Nations was more than 10 years ago.
At a reception, Amb. Kemayah and his wife, Mrs. Dialokai Golanyon-Kemayah, tendered in celebration of the adoption of the resolution: “Proclamation of September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information.”
He described the adoption as a major achievement for Liberia as a country, and reaffirmation of the commitment of President Weah and the Government of Liberia to promoting access to information and advancing press freedom.
Kemayah thanked all staff members, who worked to ensure the adoption of the resolution.
Assistant ministers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attending the Main Session of the 74th session of the 74th UNGA, joined the staffs of the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the UN and the Consulate General of Liberia in New York at the reception.