The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), founded in 1992, is a global network of more than 60 non-governmental organisations that promote and defend the right to freedom of expression.
Managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (www.cjfe.org), IFEX acts as a Clearing House for exchanging information and monitoring issues such as press freedom, Internet censorship, criminal defamation laws , media concentration and attacks on journalists, writers and human rights defenders.
Members of IFEX include Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Index on Censorship, Freedom House, the International Press Institute, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the World Association of Newspapers .
In 1992, several funding and development organizations 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.
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 organizations 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 online archive of information on free expression violations, dating back to 1995.
Last updated: 08-17-2005 02:11:10
Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12