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  4. December 2000 - Volume 22
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FOCUS December 2000 Volume 22

Right Information


One of the major conclusions of the report of the World Commission on Dams is stated in this way:

By bringing to the table all those whose rights are involved and who bear the risks associated with different options for water and energy resources development, the conditions for a positive resolution of competing interests and conflicts are created.

How else can people affected by development projects be able to take an active part in resolving competing interests if they are not prepared with knowledge about the issues they are faced with? The commission's report took serious note of the failure in many cases around the world of governments and development agencies to respect the right of affected people to adequate and timely information about dam projects. As a result of this human rights violation, people were summarily displaced or tricked into displacement.

In today's world, information is power. Thus the right of people to information on matters that may affect their situation is now clearly seen as a need as never before.

But the protection and exercise of the right to information cannot be satisfied if there are legal and bureaucratic obstacles posed in the name of national security and public interest. Thus, the fulfillment of the right of people to information must instead be the best way to secure national security and public interest.