To strengthen access to information, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced the appointment of three transparency experts to serve as members of a new Independent Appeals Panel. Their appointment will last three years.
The three-person panel is established under ADB’s revised Public Communications Policy, which took effect 2 April 2012. The panel will serve as a second and final appeals stage to provide independent recourse for parties who believe ADB has incorrectly denied requests for information. The panel members are:
•Surasee Kosolnavin is a former executive director of Thailand’s Official Information Commission. An attorney, he was a commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and is now president of the Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation, a Thai non-governmental organization committed to social justice, human rights, and environmental protection.
•Maeve McDonagh is a professor of law at University College Cork, Ireland, a senior fellow of the University of Melbourne, and deputy chair of the Press Council of Ireland. Author of “Freedom of Information Law in Ireland,” Professor McDonagh is an established expert in the areas of freedom of information, privacy, and data protection law.
•Muhammad Zamir is currently Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commission of Bangladesh. He is a former career diplomat who has worked as Ambassador in various countries and as Permanent Representative to various international organizations. Mr. Zamir served as Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has also been involved with civil society organizations associated with monitoring corruption and good governance issues.
The addition of the independent appeals panel is in line with best practices in transparency. It is one of many changes in ADB’s revised policy, which incorporates feedback received from more than 500 stakeholders in ADB member countries.
Other changes include the earlier release of information on ADB-financed sovereign projects, release of audited project financial statements for sovereign projects, and strengthened communications with people affected by ADB projects. The revised policy puts ADB at the forefront of transparency best practices among international financial institutions, maintaining the core guiding principal of the 2005 policy of presumption in favor of disclosure.
“Having an independent appeals panel will enhance the credibility and independence of the appeals process. The policy changes will enable ADB stakeholders to receive more information at an earlier stage, thereby expanding the two-way exchange of information, leading to better development effectiveness and outcomes in our work,” said Ann Quon, Principal Director of ADB’s Department of External Relations.
Implementation of the revised policy has already begun. ADB will conduct extensive outreach with a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure they understand and are able to engage in the policy’s implementation.