IFEX plays a key role in addressing threats to free expression by exposing violations and raising awareness of the dangers faced by individuals in many countries who report the news or criticise powerful figures.
IFEX works to help build the foundations of healthy democracies by protecting the rights of journalists, free expression advocates and others to hold those in power accountable.
IFEX has four core programmes:
1. Information and Awareness Raising
IFEX operates the world''''''''s most comprehensive free expression information service through its daily Alerts, weekly Communiqué, Digest and website. More than 18,000 subscribers receive information via e-mail.
The Action Alert Network (AAN) is the vehicle through which IFEX''''''''s member organisations provide the network with urgent appeals concerning threats to independent media and journalists that, in turn, the IFEX Clearing House edits and distributes around the world. Highly publicised alerts have, in some cases, caused governments to back down from introducing repressive legislation and, in others, helped free journalists, writers and free expression advocates from detention, or even helped save their lives.
The "IFEX Communiqué" is a weekly e-mail newsletter that highlights developments, issues and trends affecting the free expression community worldwide. A valuable resource tool, it provides regional news on free expression, and information on the latest conferences, workshops, awards and fellowships. It is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.
The "IFEX Digest" is a compilation of the major headlines from the free expression community - grouped by region, country and story. It is published twice weekly in English, and once a week in French and Spanish.
The IFEX website (www.ifex.org) is the definitive source of free expression information. In addition to an archive of Alerts and Communiqué articles that goes back more than 10 years, the site contains an exhaustive list of links to free expression-related resources and sites. The website is in English, Spanish and French - with material also published on Arabic and Russian websites hosted by regional partners.
2. Free Expression Capacity-Building for Development
IFEX''''''''s Outreach Programme strengthens free expression organisations in developing countries - often those that are emerging from dictatorship or civil war, and struggling to achieve democratic governance. Recognising the challenges and obstacles that these groups face in carrying out their work, this programme provides start-up support, training, financial and technical resources, expertise-sharing, and international peer support and recognition through participation in the IFEX community. Through its support of regional networks and initiatives, IFEX delivers many programmes and services to a large number of national groups. Partner networks exist in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia. Taken together, these networks and organisations form a key part of the world''''''''s human rights/democracy movement.
Through the Outreach Programme, IFEX has been able to provide support for groups and activities in developing countries or countries emerging from conflict where the fight for free expression has been integral to the push for democracy. IFEX provides small-scale grants to fledgling organisations working on free expression. The result is that today, approximately two-thirds of IFEX''''''''s members are based in the South, and they share equally with Northern groups in the running and operation of the network.
3. Facilitating Advocacy and Joint Campaigning
Half of the world''''''''s nations violate the principles of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To help defend this basic right, IFEX supports members in organising joint campaigns that target abuses in a particular country, or focus on thematic issues, such as defamation laws, Internet censorship or impunity. IFEX''''''''s Campaigns and Advocacy Support Programme is aimed at supporting member-led campaigns and developing tools and capacities to better advocate for the protection and promotion of free expression. The programme provides support to members to address short, medium and long-term advocacy goals, including urgent actions, local advocacy initiatives and more elaborate multi-member, international and cross-sectoral campaigns. The programme also publishes a bi-monthly bulletin, "IFEX Advocacy Action News", to promote information sharing and IFEX members'''''''' campaigns. These initiatives are also highlighted through the IFEX Campaigns website: http://www.campaigns.ifex.org
4. Institutional Strengthening
The IFEX Clearing House works with IFEX members to ensure that a strong, vibrant and innovative international free expression community is fostered through participatory network development, effective governance and regular impact assessment. Every 18 months, IFEX members take part in a general meeting. It is the largest conference of its kind and the main forum where free expression non-governmental organisations and others meet to decide policies and programme initiatives for the network.
The IFEX Clearing House is managed by the IFEX member organisation Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), based in Toronto, Canada. The Clearing House helps coordinate the work of IFEX members, reducing overlap in their activities and making the network more effective in meeting members'''''''' shared objectives. Policies are set by the 13-member IFEX Council, a governing body elected by the membership. IFEX members participate in various committees. General membership in IFEX is open to independent NGOs working on freedom of expression.