5 October 2012

Sometimes one wonders whether international indices make much sense.  The Right to Information Index is an illustration of why that may be. The RTI Index ranks the 93 countries that have legislation providing rights to access official information.  Freedom of information is logically regarded as a source of transparency in government, and that transparency leads to accountability and good government.

The latest RTI Index – which is compiled by Access Info Europe and the Centre for Law and Democracy – would seem to undermine any presumption that access to information feeds directly into good government.

The ten countries with the most comprehensive Freedom of Information laws seem to have just that – the best legislative provision.  In practice there seems to be no consistent value that those laws  add to the wellbeing of their societies. Countries with high scoring FOI laws almost without exception fall outside the top 10th percentile on most good government indicators.

In a strange misalignment, countries that have legislated for ready access to information, have regimes which are inimical to an effective media; six of them being in the lowest 15th percentile on the Press Freedom Index. They are not much better in providing a peaceful civil society, according to rankings on the Global Peace Index.  And on the Transparency International CPI only two countries are in the top 30th percentile.

Conversely, New Zealand with lead rankings on the CPI and Peace Index, and with a healthy level of press freedom,  barely makes the top 35th percentile on the RTI Index as the New Zealand Official Information Act lacks many of the features of more recent FOI laws elsewhere.

 

Right to Information Index

 

Press Freedom Index

Global Peace Index

Corruption Perceptions Index

Serbia

1

80

64

86

India

2

131

142

95

Slovenia

3

36

8

35

Liberia

4

154

101

91

El Salvador

5

161

111

80

Mexico

6

149

135

100

Antigua

7

No score

No score

No score

Ukraine

8

117

71

152

Croatia

9

68

35

66

Ethiopia

10

127

137

120

New Zealand

32

13

2

1

Australia

48

30

22

8

http://www.rti-rating.org/

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi-data/

http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/

http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2011-2012,1043.html

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