Right to information and right to inform

Although there is no explicit legal endorsement, except in doctrinal texts and theories [1], the right to information is conceived as “a universal, inviolable and unchangeable right of modern man. This is both an active and passive right: on the one hand, the search for information and, on the other hand, the possibility for all to receive it [2]”. In other words, “the right to information is the fundamental right of the individual and the community to know and make knowing what is going on and what is interesting to know [3]”. It is therefore up to the State and the administrations to ensure its respect in particular regarding access to public documents. Yet, although considered as a fundamental right, it refers more to values and is likely to have a plurality of acceptance of its meaning, and thus its sanction. It is also limited by the respect of other fundamental rights.
Moreover, it cannot be envisaged by actors of social transformation as inseparable from the right to inform or otherwise than as a component of a broader dimension: the right to communicate [4].


[1Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights of 1789 (Article 11), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19); for a summary of the texts and standards contained therein: Fondation hirondelle, the right to information: http://www.hirondelle.org/le-droit-a-linformation/

[2United Nations website, cited in Frédérique Brocal von Plauen, the right to information in France, PhD thesis, University Lumière Lyon 2 (Faculty of Law and Political Science), supported on 20 December 2004: http://theses.univ-lyon2.fr/documents/getpart.php?id=678&action=pdf

[3Claude Jean Devirieux, Manifesto for the right to information, from manipulation to legislation, Press at the University of Quebec, 2009

[4Jean d’Arcy, former Director of Radio and Visual Services of the UN Office of Public Information, wrote in 1969: “The day will come when (the UDHR) will have to take into account a broader right than human right to information, established for the first time 21 years ago in Article 19.” It is a human right to communicate, and it is the way in which the future development of communications should be considered if we really want to understand it. Jean d’Arcy, (1969). Direct Broadcast Satellites and the Right to Investigate. In: Right to Communicate: Collected papers, ed. L.S. Harms, Jim Richstad, and Kathleen A. Kie (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1977), 1-9, cited in Sean O’Siochru, Communication Rights in VECAM, Speech Issues, 6 March 2006: http://vecam.org/article669.html