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website: www.ifex.org/en/content/

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organisation: IFEX
country: global org (headquarters in Canada)
type of activity: journalists network

who: as profound violations of the right to free expression continue around the globe, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has emerged as a strong and growing force of opposition. IFEX is a worldwide organisation. It was born in 1992 when many of the world's leading freedom of expression organisations came together in Montreal to discuss how best to further their collective goals.

At its core, IFEX is made up of organisations whose members refuse to turn away when those who have the courage to insist upon their fundamental human right to free expression are censored, brutalised or killed. Comprised of 65 organisations located everywhere from the Pacific Islands to Europe to West Africa, IFEX draws together a tremendously diverse and dedicated global community.

what: the nerve-centre of IFEX is the Clearing House, located in Toronto, Canada and managed by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The Clearing House helps co-ordinate the work of IFEX members, reducing overlap among their activities and making them more effective in their shared objectives. One of the central components of IFEX is the Action Alert Network (AAN).

Importantly, the AAN allows for a rapid, worldwide and co-ordinated response to press freedom and freedom of expression violations. Action Alerts help turn spotlights from around the world squarely on those responsible for human rights violations - and this can make a significant difference, as those who violate human rights often rely on the cover of darkness.

how: member organisations report free 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 most needed. IFEX orders the news by the following regions: Americas, Europe & Central Asia, Africa, Asia Pacific and Middle East & North Africa.

Action Alerts are the mainstay of IFEX work for the simple reason that they have seen co-ordinated letter-writing campaigns help unlock prison doors, lift publication bans and even save lives. The AAN also provides updates on recent developments in ongoing cases and circulates important freedom of expression press releases.

where: IFEX operates worldwide. It focuses on areas where the threat appears more evident without excluding, anyway, other countries (especially industrialised ones) where violations are very often subtle and hidden.

partners: several funding and development organisations, recognising the need for more co-operation among freedom of expression groups, provided the initial support for IFEX. These included the Ford Foundation, which provided funding to hold the first IFEX meeting; the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation of New York, which supported the establishment of the IFEX Action Alert Network; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which provided support for IFEX to extend its links into the developing world and promoted IFEX through its own developmental network.

getting involved: IFEX organises and supports activities related with the right to free expression. To view previous initiatives and further programmes, please visit the official website. Among the forthcoming initiatives:

  • the Stanhope Centre and the London School of Economics (LSE) are inviting journalists from East Africa to apply for a 6-7 week training programme designed to equip young reporters with the means to understand critical issues and debates in the fields of politics, economics and the media.

    As participants are expected to be selected in mid-August, please send your applications by e-mail to Nicole Stremlau, e-mail: N.A.Stremlau@lse.ac.uk.

    Also visit these links: Stanhope Centre: www.stanhopecentre.org; LSE: www.crisisstates.com;

  • the Oxford University offers training course in Media Law Advocacy. Oxford University's Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) is offering an intensive three-week training course in July 2005, aimed at giving lawyers more skills for doing legal advocacy in the area of media and freedom of expression [www.justiceinitiative.org].


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(each of the mentioned activities,
supported by IFEX, is managed
by different contact person)
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