Bernard, 51, will help RSF secretary-general and director-general Christophe Deloire to consolidate and develop RSF’s work of defending journalistic freedom and independence at a time of great dangers for journalists.
Reporting to Deloire, Bernard will manage the three sections of RSF’s programmes department, which are research and publications, institutional advocacy, and support for local actors and project coordination. He will also supervise RSF’s international bureaux.
Bernard’s recruitment opens up new possibilities at a time of rapid growth for RSF and major threats to journalism, Deloire says.
“Antoine is an emblematic international human rights defender whose stature, experience and human qualities I have long appreciated and admired,” Deloire said. “His recruitment is excellent news for our team and a major reinforcement at a time when journalism all over the world is facing many threats, violent and subtle, aimed increasing control of news and information.
“We share a vision and an ambition, which is to promote the freedom and independence of quality journalism, without which humankind will not be able to find solutions to the major challenges it faces.”
Bernard said: “In a world dominated by opaqueness, propaganda and impunity for the powerful, journalism is in danger and, with it, human rights and democracy. RSF is waging a fight that is absolutely essential and Christophe Deloire has managed to put RSF at the international forefront of the defence of the freedom to inform and the protection of journalists. I am honoured to join Christophe and his team.”
FIDH paid tribute to Bernard’s “major victories” when he left in September, after 26 years with the organization.
It said they included the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998, the International Criminal Court’s creation in 2002, and a campaign for corporate social responsibility, which included criminal proceedings against some companies and a dialogue with others. FIDH wrote: “We are enormously grateful to Antoine for his tireless optimism, his boldness, his tenacity and the passion he brought to our organization.”
Deloire, who has headed RSF since 2012, was unanimously reelected as secretary-general of RSF International and director-general for another five years in September 2017.
The past five years have seen very rapid growth in RSF’s activities and influence and enhancement of its image. It has launched major campaigns at the UN and in the field, reinforced and professionalized its headquarters in Paris, doubled its personnel worldwide, developed its bureaux in Washington and Tunis, and created new bureaux in Rio de Janeiro, London and Taiwan. It plans to open two new bureaux in 2018, one in San Francisco and one in Africa.
Registered as a non-profit organization in France, RSF has consultative status with the UN, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie. Its headquarters in Paris works with six international bureaux and sections in six European countries (Austria, Finland, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). RSF International is chaired by Michael Rediske, the head of Reporter Ohne Grenzen, and RSF is chaired by Pierre Haski.