Support implementation of the Access to Information Law
Source in English: ESCWA-OECD Case Study - Access to Information Law, Lebanon
This activity is the first national action plan that was developed to enhance the implementation of the 2017 Access to Information (ATI) law No. 28. It is aimed at transforming the public administrations obligated by this law from closed and bureaucratic to open and automated ones. It will strengthen the relations between the government and citizens and help administrations become more transparent and accountable. The plan follows innovative methods and behavioural insights with the aim of better engaging the administrations in implementing the ATI law. It includes activities that involve civil society organizations and public sector officials and have led to the production of a citizen guide on the right to access information.
The plan was initiated by the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Development (OMSAR) and developed by a committee comprising public institutions and various stakeholders, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It will be later institutionalized to include all relevant public institutions and to be open to more civil society organizations.
The main purpose of this activity is to effectively implement the Access to Information law in Lebanon so as to changing the approach followed by public administrations and enabling access to information.
The plan was set for two years and includes follow-up to monitor and evaluate its implementation. It encompasses 10 areas of work that respond to the challenges hindering the effective implementation of the ATI law and has the following main objectives:
- Identify and target the administrations obligated by the ATI law for more compliance.
- Designate ATI Officers within these administrations and develop an adequate mechanism to assess their performance.
- Publish guidebooks to share information about the rights and obligations under the ATI law and the procedures to be undertaken.
- Provide training and support for administrations, ATI officers and targeted stakeholders.
- Develop electronic tools to facilitate the implementation process.
- Operationalize the National Anti-Corruption Institution (NACI) and designate its members.
- Develop oversight mechanisms to ensure proper application of the ATI Law.
- Develop mechanisms for receiving and handling complaints related to the ATI implementation.
- Issue implementation decrees, as needed.
- Develop effective document management systems for administrations.
Some of these activities were launched and are still in progress.
The implementation of this plan will benefit citizens through raising public awareness on the rights and means to access information and through enhancing the proactive disclosure of information. Public officials and administrations will also benefit from capacity building activities that help them better disclose information and respond to related requests. Additionally, administrations will benefit from more automation and the development of electronic platforms. Moreover, Civil Society Organizations will also be able to better play their roles of oversight and accountability, as they will have access to the information needed for their work.
In the future, this work can bring about change in behaviour and increase the level of transparency and accountability in administrations, reducing the risks of corruption. It will also allow citizens and various stakeholders to take part in the process of policy making, which gives the plan more legitimacy, credibility and alignment with the real challenges and national context.
Expected outcomes in two years include: most of the administrations obligated by the ATI law will appoint ATI officers; more than half of these administrations will use online platforms to publish information; requests for information will increase; and public awareness on the ATI rights will increase.
More citizens are aware of the rights provided for by the ATI law, and are acquainted with the channels of complaint. The number of administrations engaging in the national plan is increasing, and administrations are more encouraged to designate ATI officers. The initiative will benefit the country as it fosters trust and encourages investments. It also encourages the implementation of other inactive laws.
- Changing the approach followed by administrations obligated by the ATI law constitutes the biggest challenge, especially due to bureaucracy and resistance to change.
- Limited infrastructure in several administrations impedes the publication of information.