Our History

The idea of creating a global network of free expression organisations was first proposed in 1992, when 12 non-governmental organisations met in Montréal, Canada, to discuss how to coordinate their actions and avoid duplicating each other’s work. The meeting was organised by the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists (now Canadian Journalists for Free Expression).

The meeting agreed to establish a network of organisations connected by a shared commitment to defend and promote freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. Over the years, the IFEX network has consolidated its structure, engaged in outreach across the world, and developed a strategic campaigns and advocacy program.

For example, in 2013, after extensive lobbying from IFEX and its members, the UN General Assembly recognised 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. IFEX now coordinates the global No Impunity campaign, which works to hold to account those guilty of crimes against freedom of expression to account.

Participants at the 2015 IFEX General Meeting. Credit: Franz Renaldo Chavez

IFEX has also grown to encompass much wider and more diverse membership, with more local and regional members from around the world. We now have members whose work focuses on a range of free expression issues, such as, press freedom, inclusion, censorship and privacy. Today, more than 100 IFEX network members in over 70 countries work together to defend and promote free expression, drawing the world’s attention to these issues. Learn more about our network.

As part of IFEX’s efforts to work in intergovernmental spaces, IFEX is now a registered civil society organisation with the Organization of American States (OAS), holds observer status with the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI), and has participatory status with the Council of Europe. Having access to these spaces means that the work of IFEX members can reach and influence important policy-making bodies and raises the profile of our member organisations.