Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The comparative study of FOI is needed

According to Snell, the comparative study of FOI is ‘relatively unexplored’ around the world.[1] Snell also calls for ‘[t]here is an urgent need for academics, postgraduates, government officials and NGOs to develop comparative studies in this area which include, but extend beyond, singular case studies or collections of case studies’. [2] However, Snell examines that few scholars have created good comparative tools to help ‘cross-jurisdictional analysis’ of a variety of FOI development around the world.[3] Some scholars did a great job in this area. Roberts[4] and Snell[5] developed an administrative compliance model to analyze the implementation of FOI legislation. Lidberg created a monitoring tool to examine five countries’ gap between the promises of FOI legislation and the real practices.[6] The Open Society Justice Initiative also developed an Access to Information Monitoring Tool which provides a way of measuring government transparency and tracking progress in fourteen countries’ implementation of FOI laws. [7] However, these studies miss each country’s history or culture out of their analysis.

[1] Rick Snell, ‘Using Comparative Studies to Improve Freedom of Information Analysis: Insights from Australia, Canada and New Zealand’ (Paper presented at the 6th National and 2nd International Congress on the Right to Information, Mexico, 8-11th November 2005) 19.

[2] Rick Snell, ‘Is there a Role for Comparative Freedom of Information Aanlysis?: Part 1’ (2004)113 Freedom of Information Review 57, 60.

[3] Rick Snell, ‘Freedom of Information Practices’ (2006) 13 Agenda 291, 300.

[4] Alasdair Roberts, Limited Access: Assessing the Health of Canada’s Freedom of Information Laws (1998) Canadian Newspaper Association at 17 November 2006.

[5] Rick Snell, ‘Administrative Compliance-Evaluating the Effectiveness of Freedom of Information’ (2001) 93 Freedom of Information Review 29.

[6] Johan Lidberg, ‘Keeping the Bastards Honest’ – The Promise and Practice of Freedom of Information Legislation (D Phil Thesis, Murdoch University, 2006).

[7] Open Society Justice Initiative, Transparency & Silence: A Survey of Access to Information Laws and Practices in 14 Countries (2006) Open Society Institute & Soros Foundations Network< >at 15 November 2006.

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