Article 19

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Founded5 February 1987 (1987-02-05)
FounderJ. Roderick MacArthur
Greg MacArthur
Aryeh Neier
Martin Ennals
TypeInternational nongovernmental organisation
Registration no.Charity number 327421
FocusFreedom of expression and freedom of information
  • London, UK
Coordinates51°31′25″N 0°6′29″W / 51.52361°N 0.10806°W / 51.52361; -0.10806Coordinates: 51°31′25″N 0°6′29″W / 51.52361°N 0.10806°W / 51.52361; -0.10806
Key people
Quinn McKew
Executive Director
£7,014,478 (2016)

Article 19 (stylised ARTICLE 19) is an international human rights organisation that works to defend and promote freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide. It was founded in 1987.[1] The organisation takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

The name is an example of a trend in organizations' naming themselves after sections of treaties and law, something that Zachary Elkins has called "chapter-verse branding."[2]


ARTICLE 19 monitors threats to free expression around the globe; lobbies governments to adopt laws that conform to international standards of freedom of expression; and drafts legal standards that strengthen media, public broadcasting, free expression, and access to government-held information. The Law Programme also produces legal analysis and critiques of national laws, including media laws. In addition, ARTICLE 19 intervenes in cases of individuals or groups whose rights have been violated; and provides capacity-building support to non-governmental organisations, judges and lawyers, journalists, media owners, media lawyers, public officials and parliamentarians.

ARTICLE 19's work is organised into five Regional Programmes—Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East—a Law Program, and a Digital Program. It has over 100 staff and regional offices in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Senegal, and Tunisia. It works in partnership with nearly 100 organisations in more than 60 countries around the world.[3]


ARTICLE 19 is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a clearinghouse for a global network of non-governmental organisations that monitor free expression violations worldwide. It is also a member of the Tunisia Monitoring Group, a coalition of 21 free expression organisations that lobbied the Tunisian government to improve its human rights record.[4] And it is the coordinator of the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA), a coalition of international organisations working to promote and protect freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.

ARTICLE 19 is a founding member of the Freedom of Information Advocates (FOIA) Network, a global forum that aims to support campaigning, advocacy and fundraising on access to information through the exchange of information, ideas and strategies. The FOIA Network also aims to facilitate the formation of regional or international coalitions to address access to information issues.


Article 19 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. 3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals


ARTICLE 19 lists its regular financial contributors on its website:


Shortly before his death in 1984, J. Roderick MacArthur established a vision for ARTICLE 19 as a global human rights organisation that would focus on censorship issues.[5] His son Greg MacArthur, director of the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, set the wheels in motion for the creation of the organisation inspired by an article from the Universal Declaration of Human rights.[6] Through Aryeh Neier—a lawyer and human rights leader who was formerly the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (1970–1978) before founding Human Rights Watch in 1978[7] -- Martin Ennals was appointed to realise the idea.[8] Ennals brought his experience from UNESCO, the National Council for Civil Liberties, and the Nobel Prize-winning Amnesty International, and started the ARTICLE 19 organisation in 1986 with a budget around $1,500,000 and a staff of eight with its first executive director Kevin Boyle.[9][10][11][12]

ARTICLE 19 Executive Directors
Kevin Boyle 1987–1989 [9][10]
Dr Frances D'Souza 1989–1999 [5]
Andrew Puddephatt 1999–2004 [13][14][15][16][17]
Dr Agnès Callamard 2004–2013 [18]
Thomas Hughes 2013–2020 [19]
Quinn McKew 2020- [20]

As executive director, Kevin Boyle oversaw the first report that would summarise the current state of censorship on a global scale in a report released in 1988. The ARTICLE 19 report "Information, Freedom and Censorship" established a benchmark from which to move forward. In the report, ARTICLE 19 was critical of the United Kingdom where the government could interfere in the British Broadcasting Company's editorial decisions. Other directors would also criticise the United Kingdom frequently even though the organisation is based in London.[21]

Under the leadership of Boyle, ARTICLE 19 also took up as its first campaign, the defence of one of its own. Among ARTICLE 19's first directors on its board of directors was South African journalist Zwelakhe Sisulu.

ARTICLE 19, International Board of Trustees, 2014–15
Paddy Coulter Chair
Nigel Saxby-Soffe Treasurer
Frank LaRue Trustee
Galina Arapova Trustee
Catherine Smadja Trustee
Lydia Cacho Trustee
Evan Harris Trustee
Kamel Labidi Trustee
Malak Poppovic Trustee

The Sisulu name was well known worldwide as both of his parents were activists against South Africa's Apartheid system. Sisulu himself had established his own reputation as the leader of a press strike by black journalists in 1980. For this activity, he was arrested and banned from journalism for 3 years. After his disappearance in 1986 and after his arrest was made official, ARTICLE 19 took up the case of its own human rights defender.[21] Sisulu was released two years later.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

Dr Frances D'Souza,[30] a founder and former director of Relief and Development Institute focusing on famine monitoring and relief operations, became the organisation's second executive director 4 July 1989. She brought with her years of experience as a human rights defender from the field. Among her signature campaigns was the defence of Salman Rushdie after Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwā, or religious ruling, 14 February 1989 based on the charge that the book The Satanic Verses (1988) was a work of blasphemy. The religious ruling was a death sentence. D'Souza became the chairwoman of the Salman Rushdie Defence Committee while also executive director of Article 19 and became the writer's main spokesperson.[31][32]

D'Souza also participated in the drafting of the Johannesburg Principles in 1995.[33]


In June 2009, ARTICLE 19 moved to Farringdon Road in London to become part of the Free Word Centre promoting literature, literacy and free expression.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Congratulations to ARTICLE 19 for Two Decades of Speaking Out for Free Expression". 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  2. ^ Elkins, Zachary (2 April 2021). "The Mutualism of Human Rights Law and Interest Groups". University of Chicago Law Review Online. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  3. ^ "ARTICLE 19". [BETA] Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD). Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  4. ^ Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (Cairo) (19 February 2012). "Tunisia: IFEX-TMG Concerned By Series of Setbacks". Africa News.
  5. ^ a b Fein, Esther B. (16 August 1992). "Conversations/Frances D'Souza; Working to Nourish Democracy Where Minds Are Being Starved". New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (6 December 2001). "Greg MacArthur, Philanthropist And Green Party Supporter, 53". New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  7. ^ Fitzgerald, Mary (4 June 2012). "Standing up for the universality of human rights" (interview). Irish Times. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  8. ^ "History & Achievements". Article 19. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  9. ^ a b Moorehead, Caroline (31 October 1986). "New body set up to attack censorship / Launch of ARTICLE 19 organization". The Times (London).
  10. ^ a b Allemang, John (9 November 1988) [2013-01-26]. "Group fights worldwide censorship". The Globe and Mail (Canada).
  11. ^ Pepinster, Catherine (6 October 1991) [2013-01-26]. "At the forefront of freedom". The Observer.[clarification needed]
  12. ^ "Who was Martin Ennals?". Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  13. ^ Centre for the Study of Human Rights. "Andrew Puddephatt". London School of Economics. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  14. ^ Barker, Dennis (4 October 1989) [2013-01-31]. "Wednesday People: Champion in the cause of liberty". The Guardian (UK).
  15. ^ Wolmar, Christian (30 October 1989) [2013-01-31]. "Defender of Liberty in a state of decay". The Independent.
  16. ^ Puddephatt, Andrew (24 May 2003) [2013-01-26]. "Letter: Mind your language". The Daily Telegraph.
  17. ^ Puddephatt, Andrew (25 August 2004) [2013-01-26]. "ALERT: Article 19 expresses concern about NGO bill". IFEX. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  18. ^ "Agnes Callamard". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Executive director - Thomas Hughes". Article 19. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Article 19 announces Quinn McKew as new executive director". Article 19. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Human Rights: First World Report on Censorship Blasts Britain". Inter Press Service. 23 May 1988 [2013-01-29].
  22. ^ "Black editor abducted / Zwelakhe Sisulu in South Africa". The Guardian (UK). 28 June 1986 [2013-01-29].
  23. ^ "U.S. Editors' Society Urges Pretoria to Free a Journalist". New York Times. Associated Press. 29 June 1986 [2013-01-29].
  24. ^ "Minister frees detained editor / New Nation newspaper editor Sisulu released by South African authorities". The Guardian (UK). 19 July 1986.
  25. ^ Hultman, Tami (5 October 2012). "South Africa: Zwelakhe Sisulu - a Remembrance". AllAfrica. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  26. ^ Findley, Timothy (21 March 1987). "Writing: the pain and the pleasure The power to persuade is mitigated wherever you turn". Toronto Star.
  27. ^ Brittain, Victoria (7 December 1989). "Editor says black South African paper is threatened with closure". The Guardian (UK).
  28. ^ "Tributes paid to 'revolutionary journalist' | Media". BDlive. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  29. ^ Sisulu, Zwelakhe (11 December 2008). "Statement by Zwelakhe Sisulu on the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Founding of Article 19" (PDF). Article 19. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  30. ^ Sometimes misspelled as De Souza.
  31. ^ Usborne, David; Jury, Louise; Cornwell, Rupert (25 September 1998). "Secret talks that ended a 10-year ordeal". The Independent (London).
  32. ^ "Review: Publish and be damned: Writers, broadcasters, friends and publishing insiders recall what it was like to be caught up in the most controversial story in recent literary history, The Satanic Verses and the ensuing fatwa against its author, as Salman Rushdie prepares to bring out his eagerly awaited memoir". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2012.
  33. ^ Shamdasani, Ravina (5 December 2002). "Human rights specialist hits out at anti-subversion laws". South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). Retrieved 26 January 2013.

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