Reference Work Entry

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

pp 32-33

Article 19

  • Claudia Bode-HarlassAffiliated with

Address of Organization

6-8 Amwell Street London EC1R 1UQ UK www.​article19.​org


According to the organization itself, Article 19 is a “global campaign for free expression” that “defends and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of information all over the world.” Its name is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states in its 19th Article that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression” which includes the rights to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media.”

Brief History

The founding of the organization is based on the idea of the Chicago businessman Roderick MacArthur who worked towards the establishment of an organization focusing solely on the human right to freedom of expression and information on an international scope. After his early death, it was his son Greg who fulfilled his father’s vision and founded Article 19 in 1987.


The basic idea of being an organization that supports defenders of freedom of expression and provides expertise for them was soon expanded to include advocacy and campaigning for freedom of expression and information worldwide. Article 19 is emphasizing the anchorage of freedom of expression and information in the human rights framework and regards these freedoms as central for the protection of other rights, be it basic ones like the right to food, medical care and housing or an accountable and transparent government. Article 19 is working with 80 partner organizations all around the world and is following a rights-based approach which means that it is focusing on the improvement of citizen participation in its decision-making processes at all levels.


Article 19 conducts a variety of different activities in order to fulfil its aim. Their monitoring and research on the situation of freedom of expression and information all around the world is accompanied by legal standard setting, the drafting of model laws to protect these freedoms and the promotion, campaigning and lobbying for legal change. Besides, the organization is conducting legal and professional trainings for relevant actors including NGOs, journalists, lawyers, and so on. Furthermore, the organization is supporting individuals whose rights have been violated, which can even include their litigation in national as well as international courts. A recent campaign is, for example, focusing on the freedom of the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The organization's work and findings are presented not only in their annual report but also in special reports, handbooks, and research papers on special issues as well as on certain countries.

Structure and Governance

Besides its headquarters in London, Article 19 is also running field offices in Kenya, Senegal, Lebanon, Mexico, and Brazil. The organization is headed by an international board consisting of lawyers, human rights activists and journalists from all over the world.


The organization is funded by donations which it receives from individuals, foundations and governments. Regular supporters are, for example, the Norwegian Fritt Ord Foundation and the Open Society Institute. More recently, also the Ford Foundation became one of Article 19’s donors. Total revenues in 2007 amounted to just over ₤2 million.


In 1989 Article 19 set up and coordinated the International Rushdie Defence Committee following the issuing of a fatwa against the author. Besides, the organization was one of the founding members of International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) established in 1992. Furthermore, it is the coordinator of the Global Transparency Initiative working against corruption.


Human Rights



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
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