The International Freedom of Expression Exchange
), founded in 1992, is a global network of 81 non-governmental organisations
that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression
IFEX exchanges information online and mobilises action on issues such as press freedom, Internet censorship, freedom of information legislation, criminal defamation and insult laws, media concentration and attacks on journalists, writers, human rights defenders and Internet users.
A Clearing House in Toronto, Canada, coordinates the programmes and activities of IFEX, and is managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression on behalf of the members.
The membership of IFEX encompasses a broad array of organisations that work to defend journalists and media personnel, academics, photographers and camera operators, writers, cyber-dissidents, publishers, cartoonists, community radio stations and libraries. Members include Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters and International PEN. (For a more complete list, see Members of IFEX
IFEX provides information to many intergovernmental organizations that monitor freedom of expression, including the UNESCO, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Council of Europe, European Union, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
In 1992, several funding and development organisations recognized the need for more cooperation among freedom of expression groups by providing start-up support for IFEX. The Ford Foundation provided funding to hold the first IFEX meeting in Montreal, Canada. The Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation of New York supported the establishment of the IFEX Action Alert Network. UNESCO provided support through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which helped to extend IFEX's links with the developing world and promote IFEX through its own network.
Action Alert Network
One of the central components of IFEX is the Action Alert Network (AAN). Member organizations report freedom of expression abuses in their geographic region or area of expertise to the Clearing House which, in turn, circulates this information to other members and interested organisations all over the world. This efficient system enables members to stay abreast of their counterparts' activities, share information and research, and focus their energies where it is most needed.
Importantly, the AAN also allows for a rapid, world-wide and coordinated response to press freedom and freedom of expression violations. Action Alerts help focus international attention on those responsible for human rights violations. This can make a significant difference, as those who violate human rights often rely on the cover of darkness.
IFEX also publishes the IFEX Communiqué (www.ifex.org), a weekly newsletter that reports on IFEX members' activities and on freedom of expression developments around the world. Distributed to thousands of subscribers in more than 150 countries, the IFEX Communiqué highlights free expression hotspots and issues including anti-terrorism laws, journalists' safety, women in the media, Internet censorship, media concentration and access to information. The newsletter is published in English, French, Spanish, Russian (http://www.ifex.cjes.ru/comm) and Arabic (http://anhri.net/ifex).
Outreach and Development Programme
Another key area of the Clearing House's work is the Outreach and Development Programme. Based on a recognition of current North-South disparities, this programme is designed to support and strengthen fledgling freedom of expression organisations in the developing world, Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union.
The risks and obstacles faced by people who attempt to start up free expression groups in countries plagued by human rights abuses or censorship can be overwhelming, and IFEX offers vital transfusions of information, financial and technical resources, expertise, and international support and recognition.
IFEX's trilingual (English, French, Spanish) website (www.ifex.org) contains the largest searchable online archive of information on free expression violations, dating back to 1995. The site is also available in Russian and Arabic
Joint Actions and Campaigns
IFEX brings members together to act jointly or campaign on freedom of expression issues, harnessing the collective power and resources of more than 80 organisations around the world. Through IFEX, members launch international joint actions to help free jailed individuals or challenge repressive laws.
IFEX also facilitates campaigns to focus attention on freedom of expression violations in specific countries or regions (http://campaigns.ifex.org).
Tunisia Monitoring Group
The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group
, comprising 16 IFEX member organisations, raises international awareness of censorship and other human rights violations in Tunisia
Launched in late 2004, this campaign aimed to pressure the Tunisian government to improve its human rights record in the run-up to, and following, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in Tunis in November 2005.
The group has produced three reports which document widespread violations against independent journalists, human rights defenders and Internet users who criticise the government. The reports are based on fact-finding missions to Tunisia in 2005 and 2006.
Members of IFEX
- Adil Soz, Adil Soz (International Foundation for Protection of Speech Freedom) website -- Kazakhstan
- Africa Free Media Foundation, African Free Media Foundation website -- Kenya
- Algerian Centre for the Defense of Press Freedom, Algerian Centre for the Defense of Press Freedom website -- Algeria
- Alliance of Independent Journalists, Alliance of Independent Journalists website -- Indonesia
- Arab Archives Institute, Arab Archives Institute website -- Jordan
- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information website -- Egypt
- ARTICLE 19, Article 19 website -- United Kingdom
- Association of Independent Electronic Media, Association of Independent Electronic Media website -- Serbia and Montenegro
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Bahrain Center for Human Rights website -- Bahrain
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies website -- Egypt
- Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression website -- Canada
- Cartoonists Rights Network, Cartoonists Rights Network website -- United States
- Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Studies, Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies website -- Nepal
- Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations, Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations website -- Russia
- Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility website -- Philippines
- Center for Media Studies and Peace Building, Center For Media Studies & Peace Building website -- Liberia
- Center for Informative Reports on Guatamala, Center for Informative Reports on Guatemala website -- Guatemala
- Center for Social Communication, Center for Social Communication website -- Mexico
- Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Committee to Protect Journalists website -- United States
- Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights website -- Egypt
- Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association -- Ethiopia
- Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Federation of Nepalese Journalists website -- Nepal
- Federation of Quebec Journalists, Federation of Quebec Journalists -- Canada
- Freedom House, Freedom House website -- United States
- Freedom of Expression Institute, Freedom of Expression Institute website -- South Africa
- Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Foundation for Press Freedom website -- Colombia
- Free Media Movement, Free Media Movement website -- Sri Lanka
- Glasnost Defense Foundation, Glasnost Defense Foundation website -- Russia
- Globe International, Globe International website -- Mongolia
- Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greek Helsinki Monitor website -- Greece
- Guatemalan Association of Journalists, Guatemalan Association of Journalists - Press Freedom Committee website -- Guatemala
- Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Hong Kong Journalists Association website -- China
- Human Rights Watch (NRW), Human Rights Watch website -- United States
- Independent Journalism Center, Independent Journalism Center website -- Moldova
- Independent Journalism Centre, Independent Journalism Centre website --Nigeria
- Index on Censorship, Index on Censorship website -- United Kingdom
- Institute for Press and Society, Institute for Press and Society website -- Peru
- Institute for the Study of Free Flow of Information, Institute for the Study of Free Flow of Information website -- Indonesia
- Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), Inter-American Press Association website -- United States
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions ( IFLA), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions website -- Netherlands
- International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Federation of Journalists website -- Belgium
- International PEN, International PEN website -- United Kingdom
- International Press Institute (IPI), International Press Institute website -- Austria
- International Publishers Association (IPA), International Publishers Association website -- Switzerland
- IPS Communication Foundation: BIANET, BIA2, BIA3 website -- Turkey
- Journalists' Trade Union, Journalists' Trade Union website -- Azerbaijan
- Journaliste en danger (JED), Journaliste en danger website (in French) -- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance website -- Australia
- Media Foundation for West Africa, Media Foundation for West Africa website -- Ghana
- Media Institute, Media Institute website -- Kenya
- Media Rights Agenda, Media Rights Agenda website -- Nigeria
- Media Watch, Media Watch website -- Bangladesh
- Mizzima News, Mizzima News website -- Burma
- Netherlands Association of Journalists, Netherlands Association of Journalists website -- Netherlands
- Observatory for the Freedom of Peace, Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia, Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia website -- Tunisia
- Pacific Islands News Association, Pacific Islands News Association website -- Fiji
- Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Pakistan Press Foundation website -- Pakistan
- Paraguayan Union of Journalists, Paraguayan Union of Journalists website -- Paraguay
- Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontieres (RSF), Reporters without Borders website -- France
- Southeast Asian Press Alliance
- South-East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media website -- Romania
- Thai Journalists Association (TJA), Thai Journalists Association website -- Thailand
- The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Media Institute of Southern Africa website -- Namibia
- West African Journalists Association (UJAO), West African Journalists Association website -- Senegal
- World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters/Association Mondiale Des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires (AMARC), World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters website -- Canada
- World Association of Newspapers (WAN), World Association of Newspapers website - -- France
- World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), World Press Freedom Committee website -- United States
Notes and references