I’ve just discovered the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents: https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/205
It is presented as “the first binding international legal instrument to recognise a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities”.
It looks like it’s a great text, it was first signed in 2009 and yet it hasn’t entered into force yet . Indeed, it needs to be ratified by 10 Member States to enter into force. But among the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe, only 9 have ratified it (Bosnia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Moldova, Sweden) and 6 have signed it but not yet ratified it (Belgium, Georgia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Ukraine).
According to this document ( http://www.freedominfo.org/2009/06/12-european-countries-sign-first-international-convention-on-access-to-official-documents/ ):
“Countries like the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands were all present during the negotiation of the treaty,” according to Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access-Info. “Responding to civil society concerns that the treaty set a low standard, they argued that a minimum-standard Convention would attract more signatures. Why then have they not signed? Where is their commitment to the public’s right to know?”
In November 2018, the Council of Europe Directorate of Legal Advice said that: “Participation in the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents is not exclusively limited to member States of the Council of Europe. The Convention is also open for accession by other non-member States and international organisations” ( https://rm.coe.int/16808feb40 )
Would it be useful to start initiatives in Europe and elsewhere so that new States sign/ratify the Convention?