Access to Information Programs
Free exchange of information ensures that democracies are able to deliver. In authoritarian countries and fragile democracies around the world, media and other institutions that provide access to information and guarantee freedom of speech are under threat. Democracies and market economies can function at full strength only when they embrace the idea of free and unfettered access to information for citizens and leaders alike.
Where information is scarce and insider deals define decision-making, authoritarian governments can retain power and corruption flourishes. Governments that are intent on controlling their citizenry will work to staunch any information flow. Alternatively, transparency in governance and economic transactions is a fundamental pillar of functional democracies and market economies. Strong institutions that allow unfettered access to information reinforce this transparency. Freedom of speech and of the press are recognized as fundamental human rights, but they also have essential utilitarian aspects, such as providing a foundation for the marketplace of ideas.
CIPE supports efforts to expand both the scope and quality of information available to the public and decision-makers. It works with local partners toward greater transparency in government, fewer restrictions for reformers, and greater understanding of democratic, market-oriented principles. CIPE programs help to allow greater access to government information, improve the professional skills of journalists, and increase alternative communication outlets, thereby strengthening democratic governance mechanisms while ensuring that citizens have a voice, crony and corrupt deals are exposed, and public officials can be held accountable for their actions.
Why Access to Information Matters
- Just as markets function best where open competition between firms occurs, the free discussion of facts, opinions, and policies helps the strongest ideas emerge.
- Access to information about political and economic theory; about political and economic experiences from fellow citizens or citizens from other countries; and about policy options and opportunities to participate in economic policymaking is crucial for meaningful citizen engagement in policymaking and governance.
- Information must be accessible, not just available. A well-informed and independent media should be able to gather, explain, and disseminate relevant economic information to the general public, including information about competing economic policy options and their implications for businesses.
CIPE’s groundbreaking documentary, Destructive Beast (trailer), exposes the economic and social costs of corruption in Yemen. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Khadija al Salami, the 43-minute documentary film captures the toll that abuse of power and bribery have taken on economic growth and development in a country already on the brink of collapse. Destructive Beast emphasizes that combating corruption is not only about pursuing high-profile offenders, but rather developing a strategy to improve governance and accountability in all institutions. Find out more.
Economic Journalism Training in Central Asia
In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, CIPE teamed up with the Kazakhstan Institute of Directors and the Kyrgyzstan Stock Exchange Press Club to improve journalists’ analytical skills through seminars so that mass media can report more accurately on basic economic and business issues. The program also focused on educating faculty members of key universities on benefits offered by corporate governance to national democratic and economic development. Openness, transparency, rule of law, stakeholder engagement, and accountable decision-making practices are crucial components of advancing democratic values.
Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism
For the Middle East and North Africa, unleashing entrepreneurs is necessary to create the 80 million jobs that the region needs over the next decade. Published in 2007, Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity details what keeps entrepreneurs on a leash – institutional barriers that prevent or slow the creation and commercialization of new products and innovations. With the support of Intel Corporation, the Kauffman Foundation, and the National Endowment for Democracy, CIPE translated and published the book in Arabic in 2010. This is a major new resource for individuals and organizations on the ground needing inspiration and information on how to participate in economic policymaking that delivers jobs, growth, and prosperity to all. Watch a video about the book launch on YouTube (in Arabic).
- Democratic Governance
- Access to Information
- Combating Corruption
- Business Association Development
- Corporate Governance
- Legal & Regulatory Reform
- Informal Sector & Property Rights
- Corporate Citizenship (CSR)
- South Asia
- Southeast Europe
- Middle East & North Africa
- Latin America & the Caribbean