IMS works to engage with local and international partners in media reform policy issues so as to address contexts where the legal environment restricts freedom of expression and media freedom

Social Media Exchange

Social Media Exchange (SMEX) is a media advocacy and development organization with more than 20 years’ experience in commercial, development, and postconflict media environments. We address urgent needs in the Arab information society through:

Online and offline courses in digital and social media
Peer-to-peer learning events
Planning and implementation of advocacy campaigns
Internet policy and digital rights research
Production and localization of how-to manuals and guides

We work closely with donors and partners to design and implement programs that respond to the region, placing a high value on monitoring and evaluation.

Our Impact:

In seven years, SMEX has directly engaged more than 2,000 participants in our online and offline training programs, learning events, and campaigns. We maintain close ties with our alumni, many of whom are now leaders in their own right. We’ve reached tens of thousands of readers through our open-licensed, Arabic-language guides, web platforms, and social media channels. We’ve also earned media coverage in national, regional, and international press, including Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, New York Times, LBC, and Radio France.


ARTICLE 19 works so that people everywhere can express themselves freely, access information and enjoy freedom of the press. We understand freedom of expression as three things:

1. Freedom of expression is the right to speak

It is the right to voice political, cultural, social and economic opinions
It is the right to dissent
It makes electoral democracy meaningful and builds public trust in administration.

2. Freedom of expression is freedom of the press

It is the right of a free and independent media to report without fear, interference, persecution or discrimination
It is the right to provide knowledge, give voice to the marginalised and to highlight corruption
It creates an environment where people feel safe to question government action and to hold power accountable.

3. Freedom of expression is the right to know

It is the right to access all media, internet, art, academic writings, and information held by government
It is the right to use when demanding rights to health, to a clean environment, to truth and to justice
It holds governments accountable for their promises, obligations and actions, preventing corruption which thrives on secrecy.

We design and promote laws and policies that protect free expression, holding abusers and governments to account, and advocate for legal reforms. Through our legal and policy hot desk, we also respond to urgent requests from activists needing support and expert advice worldwide.

We assist the media in its professional development with a range of training and capacity-building resources on freedom of the press, journalists’ rights, defamation, public interest broadcasting, media pluralism, and reporting diversity

We defend victims by monitoring and analysing abuses, publicising the plight of individuals under attack, providing security training and security measures for journalists and human rights defenders, and litigating on their behalf.

We also actively demand transparency and accountability by testing governments’ transparency practices and access to information provisions, and by campaigning for the disclosure of information of public interest.


Maharat is a specialized organization endeavouring to defend the freedom of opinion and expression. This is achieved by developing the media sector, advocating for legal reforms, building knowledge and awareness, disseminating information and building capacities of diverse social, media, culture and civic actors. Maharat is member of the international Freedom of Expression Exchange IFEX.

Maharat Activities:

Based on its strategic plan, Maharat is working on four main areas: Advocacy actions for the freedom of expression and the organization of the media sector, Training program, Media Monitoring and Resource production.

1- Freedom of expression Advocacy:
Maharat aims at modifying the legal framework related to media laws in Lebanon through participatory process of advocacy actions and activities leading to the reform of the current laws that are not in line with the international standards of freedom of expression including media laws, organization of journalists' profession and the cancellation of censorship on artistic work. Moreover, Maharat acts as a watchdog to monitor the violations against the freedom of expression and issues statements, alerts and yearly reports accordingly.

a- More than 50 workshops held between 2007 and 2010 with media workers, legal experts and social actors to build consensus on an alternative media law.
b- Registering a media law proposal in November 2010: – Common trunk for all kinds of media, ending duplication of laws. – Cancelling jail penalties. – Canceling prior licenses for political prints. – Transparency provisions for all media institutions. – Freeing electronic media.
c- Drafting an alternative to the audiovisual media law and presenting it to the Parliamentary committee of information and communication in February 2013.
d- Launching an alternative law to cancel prior censorship on artistic work in partnership with "marsad" group in December 2011.
e- More than 25 meetings with producers, artists, activists and journalists and 4 roundtables on the importance of cancelling censorship on artistic work in order to
f- widen the circle of debate and create a momentum on the cancellation of censorship.
g- 5 workshops held in 2013 on the organization of the journalism profession to elaborate a plan protecting them and ensuring their socio economic rights.
h- Advocating for the adoption of the access to information law as part of the national network for the promotion of the right to access information in 2010.
i- Member of the civil campaign for Electoral Reform CCER since 2007 and member of the EU consortium for electoral reform in 2013, working on the reform of the electoral media law.

2- Media Training:
Since its establishment Maharat has conducted training workshops targeting journalists, journalism students and activists in order to build their capacities on areas related to media and human rights, media and conflict, media and development, investigative journalism, inclusive journalism, new digital media.
a- More than 500 trainees between 2006 and 2012 from Beirut and the regions.
b- Partnerships developed with 6 media faculties in Lebanese universities: Jinane in Tripoli, LIU in Bekaa and Saida, Antonine in Mount Lebanon, BAU and LU (UNESCO branch and Fanar branch) in Beirut.
c- Toolkit and documentary on Media and conflicts produced in 2008.
d- Manual on investigative journalism adopted by the media faculty in the Lebanese University and integrated in the curriculum in 2009.
e- Manual on reformist journalism adopted by the media faculty in the Lebanese University and integrated in the curriculum in 2012.
f- Providing internship opportunities for journalism students since 2012 to improve their journalism practical skills from a Human Rights perspective.

3- Media Monitoring:
Maharat adopts a media monitoring methodology to assess media performance based on specific themes or throughout a specific period of time. The monitoring aims to deeply analyze the media content concerning the messages and the language. Maharat bases in its training program on the results and case studies highlighted in its media monitoring.
a- Monitoring electoral media during the parliamentary elections in 2009 and issuing a study based on the monitoring results.
b- Study on the media coverage of foreign labors issues.
c- Study on the coverage of women issues.
d- Study monitoring the public broadcast performance.
e- Study monitoring hate speech in political talk shows.
f- Study on citizen assessment of media, yearly conducted by Maharat since 2011 in collaboration with IREX.

4- Resources:
Produce useful and needed resources in Arabic that support Maharat’s Mission, and benefit the media community, researchers, academicians, students, human rights activists and civil society organizations at large.
a- Maharat annual report on freedom of expression in Lebanon in collaboration with UNESCO.
b- A publication of Maharat and UNESCO about Lebanese press martyrs since 1906 to 2006, "one hundred years in red ink".
c- Two training books on investigative journalism and reformist journalism as a tool facing corruption.
d- A study on Lebanese media and the problematic of making a public opinion in a divided community.
e- A study related to the media coverage of the May 2008 clashes.
f- A book about journalism ethics, principles and facts, presenting a study on how Lebanese journalists deal with these ethics in their outlets.
g- A manual on the right of access to information to guide journalists in their investigative reporting.
h- A manual on new media and advocacy elaborated in 2011.
i- Towards a code of ethics in Lebanon issued in 2013 after series of interviews with media representatives in collaboration with UNESCO.

About Maharat news:
Based on its four areas of work, Maharat has launched a news platform, Maharat-news, that serves to advocate for freedom of expression, provide internship opportunities for journalism students through the production and dissemination of media material related to public policies, human rights and media monitoring, presented in an attractive and simplified way like illustrations and infographics.

Maharat role in oil and gas:
Although Lebanese are excited to discover their offshore oil and gas reserves, they fear that these national funds would higher the corruption and will not affect their lives and the economic growth of their country. Corruption, poor implementation of the regulations, inequitable distribution of oil revenues, environmental risks are threats that can only be faced by ensuring transparency and accountability. This will only happen if Lebanese citizens are active participants in the process, remain informed, and lobby for their rights. Thus the Lebanese media has a crucial role to inform citizens and get them involved in the process. It is essential to make extraction contracts public, how much oil will be produced, how much money will it generate and how it will be spent.

Therefore, Maharat can play a role in raising the awareness of the journalists and activists on the importance of following up the process and informing the public, spreading the message and monitor the media in the coming period. Maharat will base on its previous experience in gathering journalists and activists, building consensus among them, facilitating debates and setting guidelines for investigative journalism and access to information.

This can be through training workshops for journalists to be more familiar with the terminologies, the procedures, the transparency obligations, other models of countries that succeeded like Norway and Malaysia or failed in oil and gas extraction and benefits exploitation like Angola and Nigeria where oil has increased the corruption of the political class and turned into a resources curse. Journalists will be introduced to the conditions that must accompany the extraction and the obligations of transparency regarding both the extracting companies and the exploiting government.

For this purpose, Maharat can produce the needed resources to guide the journalists and ensure the role of media as a watchdog. These resources can be shared with the media faculties within Maharat's partnerships to be used to build the capacities of the next generation of journalists.

In addition, Maharat will monitor the media in order to assess how much time media is allocating to the oil and gas issues and the quality of time allocated and the messages diffused. Maharat will make use of Maharat news platform and traditional media to share the monitoring results with them in order to sensitize them to cover oil and gas issues professionally.

Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State

Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State is a Tunisian NGO established in 2013 by a group of academics, journalists and human rights defenders, including Naziha Rejiba, Kamel Labidi, Messaoud Romdhani and Youssef Seddik.

As stated in the official gazette of the Republic of Tunisia ( dated 9 February 2013, Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, also known as Yakadha (vigilance in English and French), aims at promoting gender equality, protected from all forms of segregation, and “defending the principles upholding the country’s Civic State, which is based on institutions and the rule of law.”

As Freedom of Expression is one of the corner stones of democratic rule, and given the continuous involvement of some of its founding members in promoting free speech and independent journalism, most of Vigilance activities (alerts, joint actions, public events, publications…) have been focusing, during the first three years following its launch, on raising awareness of the need to protect the right to freedom of expression and of the press and independent media regulation, and to enshrine this right in the 2014 Constitution.

Vigilance initiated in 2013 the launch of the Civil Coalition to Defend Freedom of Expression (, and served until 2015 as its coordinator. The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists took over as coordinator of this umbrella group, which also includes the Tunisian League for Human Rights, the Tunis Center for Press Freedom and the General Syndicate of the Media, affiliated to the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT).

Vigilance keeps raising awareness about the need to abide by international standards for human rights and to take joint actions to defend the independence of the judiciary and of the media, and to promote education reform to combat incitement to hatred and violence in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab world.

Vigilance joined the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) in October 2015.

International Media Support

International Media Support (IMS) is a non-profit organisation working to support local media in countries affected by armed conflict, human insecurity and political transition. Across four continents, IMS helps to promote press freedom, strengthen professional journalism and ensure that media can operate in challenging circumstances.

IMS was established in 2001 in the wake of the tragic events in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, these and other conflicts saw media being manipulated and used as a tool to fuel violent conflict. IMS was set up in response to this trend with the aim to help local media working in conflict-affected areas to remain operative and professional.

Freedom of Expression and a free press are key elements in the democratic development of a country. To achieve this, we work to enable media to reduce conflict, strengthen democracy and bring about dialogue in close partnership with local media and media support organisations nationally as well as internationally. We take a broad sector approach to media development. This means that all the building blocks that make up the media sector must be addressed to achieve well-functioning and independent media and that ensure a free media environment, a strong media infrastructure and professional media content.

We work to:

- Provide safety and protection for journalists
- Advocate media rights and monitoring violations
- Promote fair media laws and media reforms
- Media business development
- Support media associations and media centres
- Provide training in new media platforms and technology
- Professionalise journalism through specialised training for media workers and media content monitoring

Centre for Law and Democracy

What We Do

The Centre for Law and Democracy believes in a world in which robust respect for all human rights underpins strong participatory democracy at all levels of governance – local, national, regional and international – leading to social justice and equality.

The Centre for Law and Democracy works to promote, protect and develop those human rights which serve as the foundation for or underpin democracy, including the rights to freedom of expression, to vote and participate in governance, to access information and to freedom of assembly and association.

Goals and Strategies:
We will seek to achieve our mission through:

Undertaking research and educational outreach to advance the understanding of civil society and the wider public globally about those human rights which serve as a foundation for or underpin democracy.

Using research and technical assistance to help governments and officials around the world to uphold international and constitutional standards regarding human rights which underpin democracy.

Building the understanding of inter-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations regarding human rights which underpin democracy, so that they can better realise their goals.

Conducting research and policy work to contribute to ensuring the continuous relevance and development of human rights which underpin democracy.

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) is a non-governmental organization devoted to promoting freedom of expression across the Middle East and North Africa. Based in Cairo, Egypt, the organization was founded by prominent Egyptian attorney and human rights activist Gamal Eid, who is currently the ANHRI's executive director. It collects publications, campaigns, reports, and statements from almost 140 Arabic human rights organizations across the region and republishes them in a daily digest on its website. The group focuses on supporting free expression, especially via the internet and mass media, and works on behalf of persons detained for expressing their personal views. It also advocates against censorship in Arab governments.

Its mission is described as follows:

Today, there are countless millions of internet users in the Middle East, but it remains difficult for users to find information about human rights. ANHRI provides a central site where Arabic readers can easily find links to and information about all human rights groups and their work in the region. The Network also focuses on and seeks the expansion of freedom of expression on the internet in the Middle East.

Above all, there are critical areas that are not only taboo intellectually in the Islamic world and culture, but for which there are also no groups in the region today to even work on, such as, the death penalty, and rights of Christian minorities. Our objective is to create a space where these issues and other vital information about human rights can be discussed freely, and where people who share an interest in these areas can create a community.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.