3-5 QERSHOR 2024


“Empowering Individuals through Access to Information: Ensuring Transparency and Inclusivity in an Interconnected World”

The XV Edition of the International Conference of Information Commissioners was held from 3 to 5 June in Tirana. As the most important annual fora in the field of access to information and promotion of transparency and accountability of public authorities, the XV ICIC Albania was entrusted for the first time ever to the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner of Albania. The conference evolved under the theme: “Empowering Individuals through Access to Information: Ensuring Transparency and Inclusivity in an Interconnected World”.

The conference was addressed by the honorable Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama, who highlighted that “the right to information is not merely a democratic instrument, but a prerequisite for the health and development of functional democracies. To not be afraid of the light, but to embrace the light and to work much more closely with institutions such as the Office of the Commissioner, the Ombudsman, to ensure that everyone understands that from the government viewpoint, the dissemination of information and using it to the fullest to bring everything to light is an exercise, a very healthy process and a very effective tool against disinformation and misinformation.”

At the Opening Ceremony, Mr. Adrain Alcalá Méndez, Chairman of INAI Mexico and in the quality of ICIC chair, stated that “the evolution of Albania towards a more open, more democratic and representative society, is a testimony of the transformative power of access to information and transparency“.

The attendees were greeted through a video message by Mr. Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director General for Communication and Information at UNESCO, who envisaged that “this Conference is an important evidence of Albania’s sustainable commitment in terms of upholding the right to information, transparency and inclusiveness in an increasingly globalized world we are living in“.

In his speech, Mr. Giuseppe Busia, President of the National Anti-Corruption Authority of Italy, stated that “participation in this Conference is an indicator of the joint commitment to examine the important role of access to information in the framework of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability at a global level.”

The attendees were also addressed by Mr. Darian Pavli, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg, who said that “the fact that the ICIC is held in Tirana testifies the important progress that Albania has made, especially in the last decade, in guaranteeing the right to information and increasing the transparency of the public sector“.

Full opening ceremony

With the participation from over 200 representatives of ICIC member states/jurisdictions or observers from all continents, international organizations such as the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the World Bank and OECD, academia, civil society or media, from both local and international participants, 5 panel sessions were held in the course of two Open Session days. The matters addressed included discussions on granting the exercise of the right to information in the context of vulnerable groups, as well as on the interaction among regulatory authorities with civil society and the media to make access to information and transparency as effective as possible – whereas the participation of the IDP representative in the panel was noted.

Furthermore, according to the agenda, the participants had the opportunity to join either one of two parallel sessions which addressed topics such as open data initiatives and proactive transparency, as well as the balance that must be maintained between the progress of access to information and the respect of the rights in the field of personal data protection – moderated by the representative of the Commissioner’s Office.

The UNESCO panel on “Sustainable Development Objective Indicators” also had a high interest from the participants, where amongst other things, the adoption of legislation in the field of access to information in as many countries as possible worldwide marked an important update provided by the UNESCO. During the Closed Session, with the participation of representatives of the member/observer authorities, Regional networks reported on their activities in the past 12 months, following with the four of the ICIC working groups through the presentation of their work outputs. The membership of the Organization discussed and approved the text of the Public Statement “Transparency and the digital age: the role of Information Commissioners and the empowerment of citizens“. The Mexican authority was reconfirmed at the Chair of the organization’s Executive Committee for the 2024-2027, while the institutions of Australia and Kenya are the newest members of the ICIC Executive Committee under the same terms as the chair.

The two next editions of the Conference are set to be held in Germany in 2025 and in Sierra Leone in 2026, in the spirit of respecting the principles of cooperation, diversity and inclusiveness of the organization’s membership. This International Conference serves as a central platform for addressing views, challenges and opportunities to further strengthen standards in the practical exercise of the right to information. On the other hand, interaction and cooperation with partners outside the public sphere is important to foster a culture of transparency, for responsible and accountable institutions for a functional democratic society.

Conference programme