What we want

We want accountability to be central to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

ARTICLE 19 believes that fundamental human rights including the rights to expression, information, association, assembly and public participation need to be fully integrated into the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals currently being considered by the United Nations. These rights are essential to ensure that the goals will be reached for all persons.
The best way to achieve this is for the UN to agree to a free standing goal on governance which covers all aspects of the development agenda and includes all of the rights.

Why we want it

Because development cannot happen without transparency and accountability

Transparency and the free flow of information play a vital role in ensuring accountability at all levels. The availability and accessibility of information and a free, independent and professional media and civil society empower people to demand their rights and public services.

What’s happened so far

The official drafts

Here are all the versions of the goals, showing how they have changed over time

The UN and its various bodies are creating drafts and all the official (and unofficial versions) are here. You can also see a chart of the process here.

OWG Final Consensus Draft

JULY 2014

The Open Working Group released its final consensus draft on 19 July. The final draft includes improved language on RTI and and ICTs. Additional references to information in relation to sexual and reproductive rights and for "sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature" are also included. A reference to protecting "fundamental freedoms" is now in the text instead of freedom of the media, expression, association and assembly. A weakened version of participation is included as well as a reference to a new on relating to WASH.

OWG Zero Draft

JUNE 2014

The Open Working Group released a revised Zero Draft on 30 June. The draft merges RTI and FOE into a single weaker goal and removed the reference to media. The reference to ICTs is further weakened. Two goals on participation have been merged. Click here to read the highlights

OWG Zero Draft

JUNE 2014

The Open Working Group released its new proposed goals and targets document on 2 June. The draft features improved language on human rights and access to information and new mentions of ICTs. Click here to read the highlights


MAY 2014

The Open Working Group released a "Chapeau" document in May 2015 which will serve as the introduction to the Focus Areas document. It affirms  "respect for all human rights, including ... good governance'" and "acknowledge that good governance and the rule of law at the national and international levels are essential for sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger." Click here to read the text.  

OWG Focus Area Document

APRIL 2014

The Focus Areas were reduced from 19 to 16, public participation is recognised in numerous sections but the right to information has been reduced to "improve access to information on public finance management, public procurement and on the implementation of national development plans".

States are only asked to "remove unnecessary restrictions of freedom of media, association and speech". Click here to read the text >

OWG Focus Area Document

MARCH 2014

Focus area 19 notes that "Governance, rule of law, capable institutions are both outcome and enabler, advancing all three pillars of sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda".

It suggests as areas to be discussed include "effective, accountable and transparent institutions", "improvement of transparency in public finances management", "improved public access to publicly owned information", "inclusive, participatory decision-making", strengthening of civil society", and "freedom of media, association and speech." Click here to read the text >

OWG Focus Area Document


This is the first draft from the Open Working Group setting out 19 broad focus areas which had been discussed in the previous meetings.

It includes "improvement of transparency in public finances management; fighting corruption in all its forms; improved public access to information; inclusive, participatory decision-making; strengthening of civil society; freedom of media, association and speech." Click here to read the text >

HLP report

MAY 2014

The High Level Panel of Eminent Persons released its report in 2013 recommending a governance goal with targets on free expression, access to information, freedom of association and assembly. Here are their  recommendations on governance.

Get involved

You can join us and many others in holding your government to account

ARTICLE 19 is working with other civil society organisations and friendly governments to ensure the goals include fundamental human rights. You can help in a number of ways:

    Over 2 million people worldwide have told their top needs to the UN. Put yours in today. Link


    You can contact your government representative both in your country and in the United Nations in New York. If you need to know who they are, just let us know and we'll help you identify them.


    If you are part of a civil society group, network, NGO or INGO, you can join our informal advocacy coalition. Get in contact and we'll be happy to welcome you.

Join us

Contact us if you would like to know more

Let us know what government you want to speak to or what civil society group you represent that would be interested in joining our campaign. Anything written here will be kept in strict confidence.

Other ways to contact us

You can contact us via our website, email, post, twitter, Facebook, linkedin, phone or fax.

Freeword Centre
60 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3GA
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 20 7324 2500
Fax: +44 20 7490 0566
E-mail: sdgs@article19.org
Website: www.article19.org

What we want – in detail

In its “A New Global Partnership” report, the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons stated that the rights of freedom of expression, access to information, association, and assembly are essential to achieving sustainable development. These rights are the fundamental building blocks of good governance, empowering people to actively participate in achieving development goals. This brief sets out recommendations on how this can be achieved through clear and measurable targets, building on the recommendations of the High Level Panel. It has been updated to the reflect goals and targets contained in the Zero Draft released by the Open Working Group in June 2014.  


Transparency and the free flow of information are widely recognized as central in the promotion of development rights. The High Level Panel stated, “openness and accountability helps institutions work properly – and ensures that those who hold power cannot use their position to favour themselves or their friends. Good governance and the fight against corruption are universal issues. Everywhere, institutions could be more fair and accountable. The key is transparency. Transparency helps ensure that resources are not wasted, but are well managed and put to the best use.” To achieve this, the Panel called for a “New Data Revolution” to strengthen the collection of information to meet development goals.

To attain this “Data Revolution”, an effective legal framework needs to be adopted in each country to guarantee the collection and dissemination of information. The target should ensure that individuals, civil society organizations, businesses, and other formal and informal entities have a legal right to access information held by government bodies and others institutions relevant to their needs. At a minimum, this requires countries to adopt and implement a framework right to information law which sets out minimum standards on the right of everyone to demand information, the duty of bodies to collect, store and provide information in usable formats and without restrictions, and provides for a set of specific limited exemptions, appeals mechanisms, oversight, and sanctions. Over 100 countries around the world including China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, and Brazil have already adopted national laws or regulations based on these standards. Access can be further enhanced with requirements for proactive publication of information using information and communications technologies and specific sectorial legislation for key issues.  Without this legal framework, there is no guarantee that accurate and useful information be collected and made available to those who need it most.


The UN Task Team report to the Secretary General stated that, “Pluralistic, independent media may help raise public awareness about development issues, empowering people with information to better monitor implementation and performance and hold governments accountable.”

The media (including formal and informal entities and individuals) face barriers in many countries in investigating and reporting on development issues. They are often unable to access important information and face both legal and extra-legal threats, particularly when revealing corruption of public funds, misallocation of money from natural resources, tax avoidance by corporations and powerful individuals to pay taxes and other issues which impact the country’s economic development.

Targets are needed to promote freedom of expression and eliminate impunity for attacks on the media. UNESCO has already developed high-level “Media Development Indicators” which measure the freedom of the media in countries across a number of issues. Further, full investigation and prosecution for all attacks with a strict zero-impunity target should be incorporated into the likely goal on security.


The High Level Panel stated, “Civil society should play a central, meaningful role but this requires space for people to participate in policy and decision-making.  The role of civil society in promoting development has been firmly established in international policy for nearly 30 years - from the Bruntland Commission report, to the 1992 Rio Declaration, the Millennium Declaration, Agenda 21 and most recently in the Rio + 20 “The World We Want” Declaration.

Despite this recognition, restrictive laws and policies have proliferated around the globe to limit core civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly, which are enshrined in international law and necessary for CSOs to effectively operate. CSOs working in many areas – particularly those that challenge the status quo, such as promoting a healthy environment, fighting corruption, or advancing other important development needs – are at risk of arbitrary closure or other severe sanctions and unwarranted government interference and harassment. Laws and policies in many countries increasingly require CSOs to "harmonize" their activities with government priorities in national development plans. These requirements often limit the ability of CSOs to carry out activities intended to benefit marginalized communities or focus on issues neglected by governments.

These efforts are counter-productive. In their place, a target of opening up civic space to ensure that the best, most creative ideas and actions to address the overwhelming efforts needed to achieve sustainable development is facilitated.

Targets and Indicators

“Guarantee the public’s right to information and access to
government data”
16.11     By 2025, establish and implement regimes to ensure effective, accountable and transparent public institutions at all levels

16.14     By 2020,  establish and implement effective regimes for public access to information and government data.

Right to information law meeting international standards adopted and implemented

Additional Sectorial Indicators

UNEP Bali Guidelines on access to information, participation & justice

Compliance  with Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

Membership in International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)

Budget and fiscal transparency

Open data policy
“Ensure that people enjoy freedom of speech, association, peaceful protest and access to independent media and information”
16.17     By 2020, adopt legal frameworks to guarantee freedom of media, association and speech

17.16 by 2030, achieve universal access to ICT, including access to affordable broadband, for all women and men, including as a means of promoting women’s empowerment
UNESCO Media Development Indicators

Number of cases of impunity and abuses against journalists and successful prosecutions

Criminal prosecutions and jailing of journalists
“Increase public participation in political processes and civic engagement at all levels”
16.4 by 2030 ensure inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels, taking into consideration the interests of present and future generations

15.10 ensure free prior informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision making and natural resources management, and promote the use of their traditional knowledge (unchanged)
Civicus Enabling Environment Index

Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision Making for Sustainable Development

OECD and UNEP Guidelines on environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessment processes
An older version of this content is available in: Arabic, Spanish, French, Portuguese here. 

Who we are

ARTICLE 19 is a human rights charity established in 1987. Its mission is "to promote, protect, develop and fulfill freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas in order to strengthen global social justice and empower people to make autonomous choices." Its global headquarters is in London, UK and has regional offices in Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, Senegal and Tunisia.

ARTICLE 19 believes that freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information is a fundamental human right, central to individual freedoms and human rights.  We also believe that freedom of expression is an empowerment or cornerstone right, in that it enables other rights to be protected and exercised.  It allows people to demand the right to health, to a clean environment and to effective implementation of poverty reduction strategies. It not only increases the knowledge base and participation within a society but can also secure external checks on state accountability, and thus prevent corruption that thrives on secrecy and closed environments.

ARTICLE 19 works extensively in the sustainable development field in promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and freedom of association and assembly as enabler rights to achieve a clean and sustainable development. It is currently involved in the negotiations in the UN Open Working Group on developing the Sustainable Development Goals, at UN ECLAC on developing a treaty on access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice for Latin America and the Caribbean and with UNEP, as well as projects on clean air and water in Brazil, Bangladesh and Kenya, maternal health in Senegal, internally displaced persons in Kenya, land rights in Cambodia and numerous other projects.

You can find us at www.article19.org