History & achievements

Registered and regulated in the UK under charity number 327421, ARTICLE 19 was established in 1987 and has worked and partnered with IGOs like the UN and OSCE, NGOs such as Amnesty International and International Media Support, and governments such as the UK and Brazil.

American businessman and philanthropist J. Roderick MacArthur originally envisioned an organisation set up to defend the right to freedom of expression. After his death in 1984, MacArthur’s children contacted New York civil liberties lawyer and former director of ACLU, Aryeh Neier, who commissioned Martin Ennals, a former director of Amnesty International to develop a proposal for a new organisation to be called ARTICLE 19. Kevin Boyle was appointed the first ARTICLE 19 executive director in 1987.

ARTICLE 19’s first campaign was on behalf of Zwelakhe Sisulu, a South African editor who was detained without trial by the apartheid government one month after he was elected as a member of ARTICLE 19’s International Board. Sisulu was released in 1988 following the campaign.

In 1988, ARTICLE 19’s second campaign with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published the report ‘Journalism Under Occupation: Israel’s Regulation of the Palestinian Press’.

A year later, the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie and his publishers for alleged blasphemy in his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’. ARTICLE 19 partnered with American PEN to lead a campaign for the protection of Salman Rushdie, called the International Rushdie Defence Campaign. On 25 September 1998, Salman Rushdie officially came out of hiding at an ARTICLE 19 press conference after the Iranian government formally lifted the fatwa against him.