ELLA Policy Brief: Using Information for Accountability and Justice: Lessons from Latin American Civil Society

Abstract

Throughout Latin America, civil society organisations (CSOs) are exacting accountability by undertaking independent assessments of the implementation and outcomes of public policies and programmes. To get the information needed for these assessments, CSOs have used the Right to Information guaranteed by Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs), Constitutions or Court decisions. By conducting these exercises, civil society has highlighted mismanagement and inefficiencies in public policies, and pushed for reform, especially to ensure that policies benefit socially excluded groups. Using case studies from Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica, this Brief analyses how CSOs are successfully using the right to information as a tool to improve accountability and social justice in Latin America.

Key Lessons:

•The right to information can be a powerful tool for undertaking social audits which can improve accountability and social justice.

•Technical and financial capacities in civil society organisations seem to be critical for carrying out independent assessments of government performance.

•Policy changes are more likely to happen if civil society is able to: a- engage partners who could use the findings of social audits to advance their rights or to hold governments accountable; and b- build linkages with government actors responsible for public policy design or implementation.

Citation

FUNDAR. ELLA Policy Brief: Using Information for Accountability and Justice: Lessons from Latin American Civil Society. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2012) 5 pp.

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