Minister of State for Administrative Reform Dr. May Chidiac, UNDP Resident Representative Celine Moyroud and Representative of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Katharina Zuegel opened the workshop on “The Role of Information Officers in Activating the Right of Access to Information Law” within the framework of implementing Lebanon’s obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and its efforts to join the Open Government Initiative. More than 100 employees from the Lebanese public administration, in addition to Lebanese and international experts, took part in the workshop.
Minister May Chidiac commended this event for its importance in sending a positive signal of Lebanon’s commitment to combating corruption and strengthening transparency and integrity. “We, at the Ministry of State for Administrative Reform, want to advance as quickly as possible in this area, and we are cooperating with donors, particularly UNDP and OECD, to support the government’s efforts to enforce the ‘effective’ law so we can restore a measure of the citizens’ confidence in their State,” she said.
“Implementing the Right of Access to Information Law promptly and without any excuses would ‘strengthen transparency’, which is goal two of the draft National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which we will soon submit to the Council of Ministers for approval,” she added. “We face a challenge—either the law remains ink on paper or we work together with you to implement it. At the Ministry of State for Administrative Reform, we have decided to implement this law because we have no other choice. We can no longer drag our heels, waiting for Dukan or an international warning to act. Shame on us if we do not act until zero hour and we’ve reached the end of the line!”
Moyroud praised the cooperation between UNDP and the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform and OECD in the fight against corruption, which would support human rights and the anti-corruption agenda, and achieve SDG 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” as part of Lebanon’s ratification of UNCAC in 2009. She added that UNDP contributed to the development of the national plan for the implementation of the Right of Access to Information Law, which will soon be submitted to the Anti-Corruption Ministerial Committee for approval. Moyroud welcomed the appointed employees or representatives of the departments and expressed her hope that a network of information officers be established. She concluded by stressing UNDP’s commitment to work to implement the law and provide ongoing support in this regard.
Zuegel expressed that the OECD is pleased to participate in Lebanon’s first meeting on the role of information officers in the implementation of the Right of Access to Information Law. She also said that the process of appointing information officers is an important step forward in strengthening transparency in Lebanon, adding that these employees are the pillars of the country’s move towards protecting the right to information and helping Lebanon join the Open Government Initiative.
The workshop included technical sessions aimed at presenting the importance of the Right of Access to Information Law for Lebanon and clarifying aspects of the law that are considered vague and challenging in terms of implementation. The participating employees also tackled the challenges they face and the technical assistance they need for proper implementation of the law. Finally, the National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Right of Access to Information Law was presented, which would play a key role in pushing for its effective implementation.