“Brifging Information Acoss Nations: Concretizing the Global Role of Access to Information for Democratic Preservation, Inclusivity and Development” was the theme of the 14th edition of the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC). This is the main annual event that brings together the global community of professionals in the field of access to public information. Its primary focus is on strengthening transparency and integrity of public authorities. The conference was attended by representatives from member/observer authorities of the organization from all continents, as well as partner organizations, the academic world, civil society, media, and more.
During the 2-day working sessions of the Open Session, participants discussed important issues such as strengthening the activities of oversight institutions for the right to information, access to information as a response to modern challenges of democracy, and the role of this right in promoting socio-economic development. Other topics of interest to the participants were those related to: transparent public procurement affecting cost-effectiveness for the economy; misinformation, risks, and the use of artificial intelligence; as well as comparing different regulatory models and the need to improve/strengthen legal standards. Additionally, participants also took part in meetings of regional networks and groups, or parallel seminars/workshops, where discussions were held on the interaction between public bodies and the private sector within the framework of transparency. The handling of cases from the perspective of the right to information related to gender-based issues or vulnerable groups was also addressed.
The Information and Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has been selected as the next organizer of this forum in 2024. The Commissioner, Mr. Besnik Dervishi, delivered a welcome speech, stating that the development of this Conference for the first time in Tirana and the Western Balkans region is of great importance. “We are guided by a shared vision to promote the exercise of the right to information and transparency in an increasingly interconnected environment. We believe that these values are essential for the development of democratic societies,” he emphasized. On this occasion, a video presentation for the upcoming Conference was intorduced.
During the proceedings of the Closed Session of the ICIC, reports were presented on the activities of the past 12 months, and the Annual Report was approved. Additionally, respective reports on developments in this field were provided by the working groups and regional representatives. The Office of the Commissioner is a member of two Working Groups, namely the one on promoting proactive transparency and the one on training. According to the agenda, proposed changes to the Johannesburg Charter were approved, elections were held for new members of the Executive Committee for the period 2023-2026, and discussions took place regarding the progress of the strategic partnership between ICIC and UNESCO.
Furthermore, an Executive Committee meeting was held where assessments and conclusions regarding the progress of the 14th edition of the ICIC were presented. During this meeting, Commissioner Dervishi emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation and interaction among supervisory institutions to enhance the transparency of public authorities.