humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of man and constitute a sacred duty which all the nations must fulfill in a spirit of mutual assistance and concern.”

For several years, various Resolutions of the UNESCO General Conference and the Executive Board have urged member states and associate members to promote free and universal access to public domain information for the purpose of education, science, and culture. As a result, UNESCO has taken several proactive measures in order to encourage member states to establish a right of universal access to information and formulate policies and regulatory frameworks, which would determine the future orientations of the information society.

After an extensive round of negotiations, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted at its 32nd session in October 2003 the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace. The Recommendation recognizes the importance of promoting equitable access to information and knowledge, especially in the public domain, and reiterates UNESCO’s conviction that the organization should have a leading role in encouraging access to information for all, supporting multilingualism and cultural diversity on the global information networks. The Recommendation proposes a number of specific measures fostering universal access to digital resources and services, and facilitating the preservation of their cultural and language diversity. UNESCO thereby encourages its member states to support equitable and affordable access to information and to promote the development of a multicultural information society.

The current evolution towards knowledge societies through an increased use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) facilitates the movement and handling of data as well as the process of generating and validating information and knowledge. Thus, the various aspects of access to scientific data and information in the digital world, including the very important questions concerning intellectual property rights, will continue to attract attention.

Public-domain information, which is free of copyright and other intellectual property rights, often is not sufficiently well known to potential contributors and users. In some countries, there are growing restrictions on the availability and use of public data and information. The public-domain principle also can be extended conceptually by the adoption of “open access” to information, which is made freely and openly available by its rights holders. One example of open access is the open-source software license, by

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement