The ATI working group started 2011 by facilitating an ATI panel at the ANCL annual conference (held 2-4 February in Rabat, Morocco). The annual conference was distinctive for the number of academics who participate and the high level of the debate on internationalization of constitutional Law in Africa. This panel of the ATI committee was an occasion:
• To present and discuss the Mali study
• To present and discuss four others papers presented by the committee members.
• To explore the situation of ATI in Morocco with some local participants and to recruit a member from Morocco who will join the committee.
• And to arouse policy-maker interest in ATI issues. This objective was achieved in that the Moroccan Minister of Communications, who attended the conference, asked that all the papers presented in the ATI session, along with any other relevant documents, be forwarded to him, which we did.
In May the ANCL hosted an AFRICAN Panel at the International conference on transparency research at Rutgers University held in May 2011. The Panel, New practices, new behaviours, new relations of power: ATI as a catalyst for social change in African countries, aimed to help develop an ‘African Theory of Change’.
PLAN OF ACTION 2011/2012
1. Evidence-Gathering Research
We will commission three more evidence-gathering pieces of research in Ghana, Zimbabwe and Morocco.
2. Judicial Colloquium
In partnership with ICJ-East Africa, we will hold a colloquium aimed at the judiciary. At the Kampala meeting in 2010 we identified the need to ‘sensitize’ the courts and tribunals at national and regional level to the emerging new jurisprudence and international norms and standards on the right of access to information.
3. Preliminary/Scoping Study for African ‘RAAG’ Study
A major point of discussion in Kampala, was how best to build the ‘case’ for ATI in Africa. On the purely academic side we are working together – as a group of scholars – to develop an ‘African Theory of Change’. On the advocacy side, we believe that it is necessary to conduct a more systematic piece of research to discover why people ask for/need information and how and to what extent accessing information can assist them in claiming other rights and advancing their material conditions and livelihoods. We are particularly taken by the approach adopted in the RAAG study in India recently and wish to explore emulating it in Africa. The first two steps, as agreed in Kampala, will be to (a) form a coalition of NGOs and academic institutions to run the study; (b) commission a consultant to carry out a preliminary study to advise on methodology etc and to conduct a scoping exercise.
4. Annual Strategic Planning & Consultation Meeting
The Kampala meeting was very valuable, both in terms of defining a strategy and a collaborative plan of action, but also in terms of building the ‘African Community of ATI Practice’. We will hold another one, probably in early 2012, to present the draft research, to consider the ‘African RAAG’ preliminary study (consultant’s report), and to agree further collaboration.
5. Book/Journal Volume
We will produce a publication on the research that is emerging from the ATI committee and its collaboration with broader civil society. We envisage two books or two journals. We believe the publication will support the emerging African discourse on ATI and will be useful for both advocates and academics alike in adding an ‘African voice’ to the growing body of literature on ATI around the world. It will also showcase the various studies and the work of the ANCL ATI working committee and its partners.