On 10 February 2021, Iceland ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS No. 205), also known as the Tromsø Convention, bringing the number of ratifications to 11. The Convention will entry into force in respect of Iceland on 1 June 2021.
This Convention is the first binding international legal instrument to recognise a general right of access to official documents held by public authorities. Transparency of public authorities is a key feature of good governance and an indicator of whether or not a society is genuinely democratic and pluralist. The right of access to official documents is also essential to the self-development of people and to the exercise of fundamental human rights. It also strengthens public authorities’ legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and its confidence in them.
This Convention lays down a right of access to official documents. Limitations on this right are only permitted in order to protect certain interests like national security, defence or privacy.
The Convention sets forth the minimum standards to be applied in the processing of requests for access to official documents (forms of and charges for access to official documents), review procedure and complementary measures and it has the flexibility required to allow national laws to build on this foundation and provide even greater access to official documents.
A Group of Specialists on Access to Official Documents will monitor the implementation of this Convention by the Parties.