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Reporters Without Borders, or RWB ( , , , , ) is a Parismarker-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985 by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008. English speakers often refer to the organization by its French name, Reporters sans frontières, and intials, RSF.

Press freedom

RWB was founded in Montpelliermarker, France in 1985. At first, the association was aimed at promoting alternative journalism, but before the failure of their project, the three founders stumbled on disagreements between themselves. Finally, only Robert Ménard stayed and became its Secretary General. Ménard changed the NGO's aim towards freedom of press.

Reporters Without Borders states that it draws its inspiration from Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which everyone has "the right to freedom of opinion and expression" and also the right to "seek, receive and impart" information and ideas "regardless of frontiers." This has been re-affirmed by several charters and declarations around the world. In Europe, this right is included in the 1950 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Reporters Without Borders is a founding member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a virtual network of non-governmental organisations that monitors free expression violations worldwide and defends journalists, writers and others who are persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

In 2005, Reporters Without Borders shared the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought with Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim and Cuba's Ladies in White movement.

Over the years, RWB has published several books to raise public awareness of threats to press freedom around the world. A recent publication is the Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents, which was launched in September 2005. The handbook provides technical tips on how to blog anonymously and avoid censorship. It includes contributions from well-known blogger-journalists Dan Gillmor, Jay Rosen and Ethan Zuckerman.

Reporters Without Borders publishes the Predators of Press Freedom list.


According to the annual accounts, its total budget is of €4,000,000, which is mostly financed by sale of photo-albums (of which the authors freely grant copyright, and which are freely distributed by the Nouvelles Messageries de la presse parisienne, NMPP ), as well as extras such as T-shirts, etc .

More than 20% of its funding comes from private groups, such as Sanofi-Aventis (€400,000, 10% of its budget ), François Pinault, the Fondation de France, the Open Society Institute of George Soros, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Benetton, or the Center for a Free Cuba (which donated €64,000 in 2002).. Furthermore, Saatchi & Saatchi has realized various communication campaigns of RWB for free (for instance, concerning censorship in Algeria).

Some of its funding (12% of total in 2007) comes from governmental organisations. According to RWB president Robert Ménard, the donations from the French government account for 4,8% of RWB's budget; the total amount of governmental aid being 11% of its budget (including money from the French government, the OSCE, UNESCOmarker and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie). Daniel Junqua, the vice-president of the French section of RWB (and also vice-president of the NGO Les Amis du Monde diplomatique), states that the NED's funding, which reachs an amount of €35,000 , does not compromise RWB's impartiality. RSF's Chinese website credits support from Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, a quasi-government organization funded by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Reporters Without Borders books are sold by the French leisure chains and supermarkets Fnac, Carrefour, Casino, Monoprix and Cora, the websites, and, as well as A2Presse and over 300 bookshops throughout France.

Journalist Salim Lamrani has estimated that RSF would have to sell 170,200 books in 2004 and 188,400 books in 2005 to earn the more than $2 million in the organisation's income statement. In fact, Reporters Without Borders book sales were 230,000 in 2007.



On August 23, 2007, RWB condemned the continuing threats and violence against Philippinemarker radio commentators who report on organized crime and corruption, following a death threat on RGMA Palawanmarker station manager Lily Uy. On December 27, 2007, RSF appealed to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration to forthwith arrest the killers of radio broadcaster Ferdinand Lintuan, 51, the 5th journalist killed in 2007 in the Philippines. As first president of the Davao Association of Sports Journalists he was murdered in Davao Citymarker on December 24.

International Online Free Expression Day

Reporters Without Borders launched the first International Online Free Expression Day on March 12, 2008. UNESCOmarker, who initially had granted patronage to that event, withdrew its patronage on March 12 giving as reasons that RWB "published material concerning a number of UNESCO’s Member States, which UNESCO had not been informed of and could not endorse" and that "UNESCO’s logo was placed in such a way as to indicate the Organization’s support of the information presented."

Cyber-dissident prize

On several years, Reporters Without Borders has awarded a cyber-dissident prize. Winners have included Guillermo Fariñas (Cuba), Zouhair Yahyaoui (Tunisia), Huang Qi (China), and Massoud Hamid (Syria).

Worldwide Press Freedom Index

RWB compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records. Small countries, such as Andorramarker, are excluded from this report. The 2009 index was published on 20 October 2009.

The report is based on a questionnaire sent to partner organizations of Reporters Without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.

The survey asks questions about direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against the free press. RWB is careful to note that the index only deals with press freedom, and does not measure the quality of journalism. Due to the nature of the survey's methodology based on individual perceptions, there are often wide contrasts in a country's ranking from year to year.


Robert Ménard on the ethics of torture

In an interview with France Culture in 2007, whilst speaking about the case of the kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl, RWB president Robert Ménard discussed the ethics of torture.Menard told France Culture:

Mr. Robert Ménard, secretary general of the RSF for twenty years, has confessed to receiving financing from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization that has been accused of using American taxpayer dollars to subvert democracy abroad.

Western intelligence agencies

An article by John Cherian in the leftist Indian magazine Frontline alleged that RWB "is reputed to have strong links with Western intelligence agencies" and "Cuba has accused Robert Meynard [SIC,] the head of the group, of having CIA links". The organization has denied the allegation made by Cuba.

Otto Reich

Lucie Morillon, RWB's Washington representative, confirmed in an interview on 29 April 2005 that the organization has a contract with US State Department's Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich, who signed it in his capacity as a trustee for the Center for a Free Cuba, to inform Europeans about the repression of journalists in Cuba.

Critics of RWB, such as CounterPunch, have cited Reich's involvement with the group as a source of controversy: when Reich headed the Reagan administration's Office of Public Diplomacy in the 1980s, the body partook in what its officials termed "White Propaganda" – covert dissemination of information to influence domestic opinion regarding US backing for military campaigns against Left-wing governments in Latin America. An investigation into the Office’s activities by the US Comptroller-General found that under Otto Reich it was engaged in "prohibited, covert propaganda activities ... beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities".

In 2002, Reich was appointed to the visiting board of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, which was formerly known as the School for the Americas, and described in 2004 by the LA Weekly as a “torture-teaching institution”. According to Amnesty International, the School in the past has produced training manuals which advocated torture, blackmail, beatings and executions.

Reacting to Otto Reich’s appointment to the visiting board, School of the Americas Watch said, “Reich on a board charged with monitoring the human rights integrity of an institution as notorious as this one is like the fox guarding the henhouse. His appointment to this position exposes the rubber-stamp character and hypocritical function of such a board…The underlying objective of both the school and Mr. Reich is to continue to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by training and arming Latin American militaries.”

According to critics, Reich has a “Stalinist-type contempt for press freedom”. In the 1980s it is alleged that he conducted sex smears against journalists critical of the Contra rebel group in Nicaragua. Reich himself has joked about his attitude to criticism – in 2002 in mock indignation he joked that opponents had"said that I can't make rational decisions because of my ideology. Well, they are not saying that anymore, because I had them all arrested this morning."


RWB has been highly critical of press freedom in Cuba, describing the Cuban government as "totalitarian" and engages in direct campaigning against it. RWB's campaign includes declarations on radio and television, full-page ads in Parisian dailies, posters, leafletting at airports, and an April 2003 occupation of the Cuban tourism office in Paris. A Paris court (tribunal de grande instance) ordered RWB to pay 6,000 Euros to the daughter and heir of Alberto Korda for non-compliance with a court order of 9 July 2003 banning it from using Korda’s famous (and copyrighted) photograph of Ernesto "Che" Guevara in a beret, taken at the funeral of La Coubre victims. RWB said it was "relieved" it was not given a harsher sentence. The face had been superimposed by RSF with that of a May 1968 CRS anti-riot police agent, and the postcard handed out at Orly Airportmarker in Paris to tourists boarding on flights for Cuba. Korda's daughter declared to Granma that "Reporters Without Borders should call themselves Reporters Without Principles." Led by Robert Ménard, RWB also burst into the Cuban Tourism Office in Paris on 4 April, 2003, obstructing the running of the office for nearly four hours. On April 24, 2003, RWB organized a demonstration outside the Cuban embassy in Paris.

RWB in turn has been described as an "ultra-reactionary" organization by the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma. Tensions between Cuban authorities and RWB are high, particularly after the imprisonment in 2003 of 75 dissidents (27 journalists) by the Cuban Government, including Raúl Rivero and Oscar Elías Biscet.

RWB has denied that its campaigning on Cuba are related to payments it has received from anti-Castro organisations. In 2004, it received $50,000 from the Miami based exile group, the Center for a Free Cuba, which was personally signed by theUS State Department's Special Envoy to the Western Hemisphere, Otto Reich. RWB has also received extensive funding from other institutions long critical of Fidel Castro's government, including the International Republican Institute Maurice Lemoine, Coups d’Etat sans frontières, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2002

Salim Lamrani, a pro-Castro journalist, has accused Reporters Without Borders with making unsupported and contradictory statements regarding Internet connectivity in Cuba.


CounterPunch reported:

American reporter on human rights, Kevin Pina, who was imprisoned under Gérard Latortue's rule, said of RSF:


Le Monde diplomatique has criticized RWB's attitude towards Hugo Chávez's government in Venezuelamarker, in particular during the 2002 coup attempt. Maurice Lemoine, Coups d’Etat sans frontières, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2002 ( Portuguese translation) In a right of reply, Robert Ménard declared that RWB had also condemned the support of Venezuela media to the coup attempt. RWB has also been criticized for supporting Globovision's version of events about its false reporting in relation to a 2009 earthquake, claiming Globovision was "being hounded by the government and the administration."


  1. Reporters sans frontières, RFO, 6 November 2006
  2. See for example, "Ireland tops press freedom index", Irish Times, 21 October 2009.
  3. European Parliament. Ladies, Ibrahim and Reporters joint Sakharov prize winners
  4. Reporters sans frontières - Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents
  5. reporters sans frontières : liberté de la presse, contre la censure, information libre, défense des libertés
  6. Atteintes à la liberté de la presse en Algérie, El Watan, 11 June 2005
  7. Income and expenditure
  8. Marie-Christine Tabet, Révélations sur le financement de RSF, Le Figaro, 21 April 2008
  9. Daniel Junqua, Reporters sans frontières, Le Monde diplomatique, August 2007
  10. rsf-chinese about page, paragraph 14
  11. TFD about page, paragraph 3
  12. CounterPunch. Reporters Without Borders and Washington's Coups
  13. [1]
  14. GMA NEWS.TV, Int'l groups slam attacks against broadcasters
  15. Abs-Cbn Interactive, RWB calls for immediate arrest of Lintuan killers
  16. Reporters Without Borders - Launch of Online Free Expression Day
  17. UNESCO Statement on the withdrawal of patronage of the International day for freedom of expression on the internet
  18. UNESCO withdraw patronage to Reporters Without Border
  19. Reporters Without Borders. 2008 questionnaire
  20. Reporters Without Borders. How the index was compiled
  21. Jean-Noël Darde, Quand Robert Ménard, de RSF, légitime la torture, Rue 89, 26 August 2007
  22. Trouble in Tibet Frontline Volume 25 – Issue 07 Mar. 29-Apr. 11, 2008
  23. Reporters Without Borders, 8 July 2005, Why we take so much interest in Cuba
  24. Reporters Without Borders Unmasked, CounterPunch, 17 May 2005
  25. Barahona, Diana. Reporters Without Borders Unmasked, CounterPunch, 17 May, 2005.
  26. The Return of Otto Reich, FAIR, 8 June 2001
  27. Friends of Terrorism, The Guardian, 8 February 2002
  28. The Case for closing the School of the Americas, Bill Quigley, Brigham Young University, 2005
  29. Teaching Torture, LA Weekly, 22 July 2004
  30. Amnesty International USA's Executive Director Dr. William F. Schulz on “Ask Amnesty”, Amnesty International USA
  31. School of the Americas Watch
  32. Otto Reich About to Slip into State Department Post Via Recess Appointment, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 7 January 2002
  33. Bush Envoy Puts Latin Post, and a Stormy Past, Behind Him, New York Times, 17 June 2004
  34. Reporters Without Borders ordered to pay 6,000 euros to Korda’s heir over use of Che photo, RSF, March 10 2004
  35. CounterPunch Reporters Without Borders Unmasked
  36. Pedro de La Hoz, Ménard trasquilado - Tribunal francés prohíbe utilización espuria de imagen del Che en campaña mediática anticubana, Granma, 11 July 2003
  37. Quand Castro disparaîtra, France 5
  38. Reporters sans frontières (2) - mobiliser médias et opinion, presentation of RWB by its delegate in Alsace, Corinne Cumerlato
  39. Reporters Without Borders ordered to pay 6,000 euros to Korda’s heir over use of Che photo, RSF, March 10, 2004
  40. Lamrani, Salim. Reporters Without Borders' Lies about Cuba, Centre for Research on Globalisation, July 2, 2009.
  41. Axis of Logic, 27 June 2009, Reporters Without Borders’ Lies about Venezuela

See also

External links

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