Joseph Stiglitz. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Joseph Stiglitz. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Paris — A group of 25 leading thinkers, including Nobel laureates, issued a declaration on Monday calling for guaranteed rights to reliable information in the internet age.

Economists Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, Iranian lawyer and rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi and writer Mario Vargas Llosa are among the signatories to the International Declaration on Information and Democracy.

“We urge leaders of goodwill on all continents to take action to promote democratic models and an open public debate in which citizens can take decisions on the basis of facts,” the group said.

The “global information and communication space”, they argued, was a common good which “must be protected in order to facilitate the exercise of freedom of expression and opinion”.

They said: “Human beings have a fundamental right to receive information that is freely gathered, processed and disseminated, according to the principles of commitment to truth, plurality of viewpoints and rational methods of establishing facts.”

The document called for support from world leaders including US President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of what he calls “fake news” but who is himself regularly accused of distorting the facts.

World leaders should take a stand on the matter when they gather for the November 11-13 Peace Forum in Paris, the signatories urged.

The declaration was drawn up over two months under the direction of Ebadi and Christophe Deloire, head of Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based organisation defending press freedom and journalists’ rights.

Other signatories include former Senegalese president Abdou Diouf, Chinese lawyer and human rights activist Teng Biao, and political scientist Francis Fukuyama.