19 June 2012
OpeningGergana Jouleva, AIP Executive Director, opens the conference
Access to Information Programme (AIP) held the Conference Advocacy for Access to Information – Achievements and Challenges on June 15 – 16, 2012 in Sofia, Bulgaria
The conference was dedicated to AIP 15 years’ advocacy work in the field of access to information.
Among the panelists were Toby Mendel, Director of the Center for Law and Democracy and current chairperson of the Freedom of Information Advocates Network Steering Committee; Helen Darbishire, Director of Access Info Europe, and Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch. Also, representatives of leading nongovernmental organizations in the field of access to information from Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Romania, and the Czech Republic will take part. 

More than 50 representatives of media, partner NGOs and state institutions from Bulgaria attended.
Addresses were delivered by Ms. Rositsa Totkova – Chief Secretary of the National Ombudsman; Ms. Tsveta Markova – the Chairperson of the State Commission on Information Security; Ms. Veneta Shopova - Chairperson of the Committee dor Personal Data Protection; Ms. Ekaterina Boncheva – member of the Committee for Disclosing the Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the Former State Security Services; and Ms. Rumiana Bachvarova – the Coordinator for the Open Government Partnership initiative in Bulgaria. AIP was presented with the plaques of the National Ombudsman and the Committee dor Personal Data Protection.

Addresses were also sent by the Chairperson of the parliamentary Culture, Civil society and Media Committee, Ms. Daniela Petrova; and the President of the National Audit Office, Mr. Valeriy Dimitrov.
During the two-days conference, FOI advocates shared experience in advocacy for access to information.

Latest developments with regard to the proposed amendments to the Regulation (EC) 1049/2011 related to access to documents of the EU bodies were reviewed and standards set forth by international treaties and bodies were presented. The impact of the monitoring of proactive publication of information by government bodies for increasing government transparency was discussed.
NGOs and journalists shared tactics in using the access to public information for campaigns and public participation and for journalistic investigations. Results from FOI legal help and litigation were presented. Raising awareness campaigns and more particularly, the Right to Know Day campaign, were presented as a successful advocacy tool. The role of the FOI advocates in the Open Government Partnership and possibilities for future initiatives was discussed.
Conclusions and findings were included in a final document which will be sent out to the Freedom of Information Advocates Network.
The agenda of the conference Advocacy for Access to Information – Achievements and Challenges and information about the panelists. Summaries of speeches and outcomes of discussions held during the conference are available here.