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). That first year, 300 free expression alerts were issued by IFEX.
Between 1993 and 1996, IFEX consolidated its structure, built an outreach programme to support free expression organisations in the Global South, and constructed a website and database to house our growing archive of free expression materials. By 2007 we had developed a strategic campaigns and advocacy programme. Most recently, IFEX embarked on an extensive digital transformation process, aimed at maximising the impact of our online communications and campaigns.
IFEX now encompasses a much wider membership, with more southern members and more local and regional members from around the world. Today, more than 90 IFEX network members in 65 countries work together to defend and promote free expression, drawing the world's attention to these issues through the strategic use of new media and mobile technologies and participating in joint advocacy campaigns and capacity building programmes.