The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, unanimously adopted a resolution submitted and sponsored by the Republic of Liberia titled: “Proclamation of September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information”.
Introducing the resolution to the United Nations General Assembly for adoption, Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. said access to information is very essential for the democratic functioning of a society–shaping political, social and economic perspectives; and vital for the sustainable development of countries.
Ambassador Kemayah emphasized that access to information was an enabler of all the Seventeen (17) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)– facilitating both implementation and the measurement of progress.
Said Ambassador Kemayah: “Recognized by the new United Nations development framework– the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under Goal 16.10.2; access to information serves as an enabler of all other Sustainable Development Goals (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 empowerment; youth empowerment; promoting peaceful and inclusive societies; or reducing inequalities; within and among countries. None of these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved without access to information.
The progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be measured without access to information.”
The resolution unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (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 annually.
According to a dispatch from the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations, Ambassador Kemayah highlighted that the resolution will not only send a clear and important message globally of the commitment of United Nations Member States to enhancing access to information and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (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 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Ambassador Kemayah used the occasion to reaffirm President Weah’s commitment to issues of access of information. “We affirm the unflinching practical commitment George Manneh Weah, President of of Liberia, and the Government of Liberia to promoting access to information, advancing press freedom, freedom of expression; and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” Ambassador Kemayah emphasized.
Reflecting on the process leading to the adoption of the resolution by the UNGA, which began in June 2019 under the astute leadership of Ambassador Kemayah, the Liberian Envoy told the United Nations General Assembly (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.
Ambassador Kemayah commended United Nations Member States; especially those who co-sponsored the resolution for their support to his Leadership throughout the process leading up 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 note worthy endeavor; and more importantly, for joining us for this initiative. ” Ambassador Kemayah said.
Ambassador Kemayah also used the occasion to thank 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.
The Liberian Diplomat then encouraged all United Nations Member States, international partners and civil society organizations to continue to work together and prioritize enhancing access to information as a pivotal and tangible tool to ensuring the achievement; and assessing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
It can be recalled that the last time the Republic of Liberia submitted and was a main sponsor of a resolution for adoption at the United Nations was more than Ten (10) years ago.
At a reception Ambassador Kemayah and wife-Rev. 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”, Ambassador Kemayah described the adoption as a major achievement for Liberia as a Country, and reaffirmation of the commitment of His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, and the Government of Liberia to promoting access to information and advancing press freedom.
Ambassador 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 Seventh-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly (74th UNGA) joined the staff of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations and the Consulate General of Liberia in New York at the reception.