IFLA has made a submission to a call by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for evidence around the link between this freedom and sustainable development. This highlights the importance of freedom of access to information, and the role of libraries in making this meaningful and universal. 

In preparation for meetings of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June and July, Irene Khan, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, made a call for contributions under the theme “Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Sustainable Development – Why Voice Matters”.

Recognising the half-way point approaching in the 2030 Agenda, the call sets the goal of looking at how freedom of expression and information can contribute to accelerating development, with a particular focus on the needs of marginalised communities.

IFLA’s submission echoes arguments that we have been making since the beginning of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda around the importance of information as a driver of development.

In particular, it emphasises that this access, first of all, needs to be universal. Too often, there are barriers to access linked to cost, connectivity, or restrictive rules and laws. These need to be removed.

Secondly, we need policies around information that do not just focus on supply, but also on demand, through ensuring that people know about the possibilities open to them, and have the skills to use the knowledge they find.

These together strengthen the case for a more holistic policy around information access than we often see today, something that could also help make a difference in achieving the SDGs.

Read our submission here.