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 against these violations.
IFEX 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.
Several funding and development organisations, recognising the need for more cooperation 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 Organisation (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.
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, brutalized or killed. Comprised of 71 organisations - located everywhere from the Pacific Islands to Europe to West Africa - IFEX draws together a tremendously diverse and dedicated global community.
In recent years, the IFEX community has been joined by many new members from the developing world - bringing new perspectives and energy. IFEX's decentralised structure creates a dynamic and truly international body.
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 coordinate the work of IFEX members, reducing overlap among their activities and making them more effective in their shared objectives.