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In Search of an International Human Right to Receive Information

33 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2002 Last revised: 7 Dec 2009

Geoffrey A. Hoffman

University of Houston Law Center

Abstract

Reasonable access to information has become a necessity for all nations and individuals. A state or regime which exercises coercion to bar access to information effectively controls and shapes the destiny of its people. This Article explores the international human right to receive information. This right is broadly conceived and includes the right to access specific types of data (for example, health or political information), as well as more general types of knowledge obtainable through education, training or employment. The right is especially important when considering the plight of women and other minorities, including ethnic populations denied access to cultural history and disenfranchised groups denied access to voting and other socio-political data. After discussing the relevant international legal documents, and methods for their effective enforcement, the Article turns to an examination of the so-called "cultural defense" which highlights the basic tension between state sovereignty and national self-determination, on the one hand, and individual freedom and international human rights, on the other. Women's oppression, for example, often is premised on religious, cultural or societal stigmas promoted by private parties. Violations may be tacitly sanctioned by the state or, in a practical sense, be beyond the power of a particular state to control. In cases such as these there may be only limited avenues available to effectuate change. The Article concludes with recommendations for stronger enforcement procedures and clearer guidelines to better protect and enforce an individual's right to receive information.

Keywords: International Human Rights, Information, International Law, Minorities, Women's Rights, Ethnic

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Geoffrey A., In Search of an International Human Right to Receive Information. Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 25, p. 165, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=342460

Geoffrey A. Hoffman (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

100 Law Center
Houston, TX 77204
United States

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