The UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean recently announced the publication of a book entitled “Building National Information Policies: Experiences in Latin America.”
The book’s first chapter looks at the evolution and current status of National Information Policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, while the second part analyzes the concept of “National Information Policy.” UNESCO notes that the work “essentially challenges governments of the specified regions to address information access, use, application, filing, and preservation as part of their state policy. The book further identifies the goals of a National Information Policy and describes the relevant action areas that should be pursued.” The fourth part of the study analyzes the current situation of National Information Policies in 19 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Lastly, the publication includes an appendix listing “Digital Agendas” for the region’s main countries.
The book’s content is based on the expert opinions of four Latin American authors, namely Gustavo Soler ( Argentina), Rosalba Pajaro-Quezada ( Columbia), Valeria Betancourt ( Ecuador), and Jose Bustamante-Quiroz ( Peru).
In a press release, UNESCO states that “the book emphasizes the importance for Latin American and Caribbean countries to adopt National Information Policies (NIP) to preserve their peoples’ right to access information.” The press release goes on to say that special emphasis is placed on the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in this process. UNESCO affirms that “the text embraces Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression (…) to investigate and receive information and opinions and to disseminate them, without any limitation by borders, by any means of expression.’ ”
Although the book does not tackle the issues at the heart of the UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions straight on, it complements the treaty in a number of ways. By encouraging Latin American and Caribbean countries to adopt National Information Policies to preserve their peoples’ right to access information, for example, the work is in step with the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions’ “principle of equitable access,” which states that “equitable access to a rich and diversified range of cultural expressions from all over the world and access of cultures to the means of expressions and dissemination constitute important elements for enhancing cultural diversity and encouraging mutual understanding.” In the same spirit of complementarity, it should be noted that one of the Convention’s preambles reaffirms that “freedom of thought, expression, and information, as well as diversity of the media, enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.”
The work can be downloaded (in English or Spanish) from the INFOLAC (Information Society Program for Latin America and the Caribbean) website.