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Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?$
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Christopher Hood and David Heald

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263839

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263839.001.0001

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Transparency as a Human Right

Transparency as a Human Right

(p.46) (p.47) 3 Transparency as a Human Right
Transparency: The Key to Better Governance?

Patrick Birkinshaw

British Academy

‘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

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