Margaret Kwoka, Lawrence Herman Professor in Law in the Moritz College of Law, has been awarded a 2022-2023 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program research award to Mexico to study the “Independent Oversight of Transparency Laws in México.”
The Fulbright-García Robles Social Sciences and Humanities award allows Kwoka to be a visiting scholar at the Instituto de Investigación en Rendición de Cuentas y Combate a la Corrupción (IIRCCC, Institute for Research on Accountability and Combating Corruption), an institute created through a partnership between the University of Guadalajara and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE, Center for Economic Research and Teaching) in México City.
From September 2022 – May 2023, Kwoka will be based in México City and will collaborate with Jaime Hernández, professor, IIRCC.
México has perhaps one of the most celebrated transparency laws in the world, the centerpiece of which is an information commission, the Instituto Nacional de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales (INAI). A strongly independent body, INAI has the ultimate power to compel a recalcitrant government official to release government information where required by law.
“The central question my research seeks to answer is how a strong independent oversight body like INAI serves requesters such as journalists, non-governmental organizations, community organizations, and citizens who are using the transparency laws for public interest purposes such as accountability and anti-corruption,” Kwoka explained. “My hypothesis is that having a strong independent oversight body makes the transparency laws more user-friendly, more accessible, and more effective for this group of requesters.”
Kwoka is hoping to contribute to the global scholarly understanding of legal design in transparency regimes by examining how the design of the law affects the experience of democracy-enhancing requesters.
“The research will contribute immediately to ongoing policy debates in the United States about legal reforms towards an independent oversight model, and potentially to conversations in México about the efficacy of INAI. In this way, this research has the potential to greatly enhance transparency scholarship and advocacy,” Kwoka noted. “I hope to contribute to policy debates in the United States concerning the best way to reform the Freedom of Information Act to best achieve its purpose.”
Another goal for her time abroad is to foster long term collaborations with the community of transparency scholars in México.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.