According to Article 19 ICCPR, the right to freedom of opinion and expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The Human Rights Committee included the right of access
to information as specific item in its General Comment No. 34 on freedom of opinion and expression. The rights to seek and
to have access to information, as well as the right to receive information, have traditionally been developed in the context
of civil and political rights. Information plays a central role in good governance and the democratic process. However, the
right to information is also a significant element in good governance regarding the implementation of economic, social and
cultural rights, such as the right to education, the right to health, the right to food and the right to an adequate standard
of living. Information plays a crucial role in securing access to facilities, goods and services in the field of, for instance,
health and education and in allowing people to make informed choices in these areas. The right to information thereby contributes
importantly to the enjoyment of these rights.
This chapter explores the interconnectedness between the right to information
and economic, social and cultural rights as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR). The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the compliance with and implementation of
the ICESCR, has maintained that access to information about relevant services and facilities is part of the normative content
of several provisions, for instance the right to health and the right to work. This right to information accordingly brings
several types of state obligations, including the negative obligation to allow access to information concerning economic and
social facilities and services, but also in some instances positive obligations to promote, facilitate and provide access
to, as well as actively distribute, information. This chapter will outline the normative content and corresponding state obligations
of the right to information in relation to several economic, social and cultural rights, in particular the right to health.
This chapter focuses on the interpretative and supervisory work of the CESCR, in particular its concluding observations as
part of the state reporting procedure and its General Comments, but will also examine the work of other UN bodies and secondary
sources. Since the work of several regional human rights bodies has been crucial in the elaboration of the right to information,
these will also be briefly analysed.