Member and Network Development
As a network with more than 90 member organisations in over 60 countries, IFEX is far more than the sum of its parts. The IFEX Secretariat, based in Toronto, Canada, supports consultations and exchanges of ideas, support and expertise. This is what makes our network unique, and allows us to work in a way that is respectful and effective.
The alliance of IFEX member organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean is an important information source and an effective lobbying group, advocating for the right to freedom of expression through the United Nations and the Organization of American States/Inter-American Commission on Human Rights system. IFEX-ALC strengthens individual members as well, and this blend of regional advocacy and capacity-building has been an inspiration to IFEX members in other regions. In 2013 this led to the launch of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX).
“IFEX's strength is it is very much a real peer-to-peer network, where there is sharing between members and a focus on growing the network from within, using the expertise of members in a way that is not top-down and fosters collaboration. Not everyone can handle all those subtleties – IFEX does a great job at this, creating a collaborative environment where everyone can share skills and learn something...The genuine reciprocity is what makes this network great.” — 2014 evaluation
“As an IFEX member organisation, we feel proud to have the backing of a network of organisations that share a common goal, along with the security this provides of not being alone in this work.” — 2014 evaluation
“Support to freedom of expression organisations in the global South - working with them to build capacity so that they can be viewed as reliable, professional in their approach and so that they can get support – such as grants – for their work at the local level. IFEX's approach to capacity building for organisations in the South is top-notch and helps us trust and rely on these partners, too.” — 2014 evaluation
Campaigns and Advocacy
IFEX member organisations are committed, energetic and creative campaigners, sometimes on their own, sometimes leveraging the power of the IFEX network, and sometimes in conjunction with other organizations and networks. In addition to supporting and helping to spread the word about member campaigns, since 2011 the Secretariat has run a network-wide campaign to end impunity; to demand that those who commit crimes against all forms of expression be held accountable for those crimes.
In just three years, IFEX took a problem identified by the entire IFEX network as a fundamental, widespread obstacle to their ability to defend and promote freedom of expression, and built a global campaign to help address it. While there is much work to be done, we have seen some important progress.
There were positive results in two cases the campaign featured in 2012: Iryna Khalip's (Belarus) two-year suspended sentence lifted; and arrests in the case of a brutal attack on journalist Luqpan Akhmedyarov (Kazakhstan). Democratic Republic of Congo journalist Tuver Wundi, also profiled in IDEI 2012, reported that the media coverage and campaign exposure provided him with protection and other journalists with support and encouragement. Each of the people profiled in the 2013 campaign reported that they had seen positive results in their individual cases, summarised in our campaign infographic. And, importantly, IFEX members reported that the campaign effectively raised awareness about impunity and supported their efforts to get attention on specific cases.
In December 2013, hot on the heels of that year's campaign, and after intense lobbying by IFEX members, we welcomed the news that the United Nations had declared 2 November the annual International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
With this new UN Day as a focal point, IFEX's 2014 campaign to end impunity concentrated efforts around sending a strong message to governments that, when it comes to impunity in their countries, they are accountable. A targeted focus on direct government lobbying gave the campaign new momentum and garnered high-level attention and responses from governments, UN Permanent Missions, and the UN system.
“Catalysing the movement and bringing people together is an impact – not just a nice idea – and someone needs to do that, to force members to think bigger than themselves on freedom of expression. And we are stronger as civil society as a result.” – 2014 evaluation
“The International Day to End Impunity has been very successful. It gives everyone a sense of joint purpose, the vast majority of members have been part of it, and it has generated a feeling of global momentum that was not there before. IFEX's coordination role was key. It has succeeded by making the day recognized internationally (i.e., the November 2 UN Day) and the media is picking up on it.” – 2014 evaluation
“IFEX's campaigns garner attention and have an impact at the individual country level and within bodies tasked with protecting human rights” – 2014 evaluation
Information and Audience Engagement
IFEX works to build a greater understanding of and support for freedom of expression and information, and to effectively engage people in actions that promote and defend this fundamental right.
IFEX'S DIGITAL EVOLUTION
It's not enough to create content and make it available; in an increasingly information-saturated world we must strive to ensure that our voices are being heard and that we have a way to measure how effective our communications are. The Secretariat curates unique and important content from member organizations and creates original, engaging materials, and makes sure they reach key audiences. In addition to news reports and longer articles that explore specific trends in the free expression landscape, IFEX tells free expression stories in a number of other ways: interactive timelines, photo galleries, Story Maps, infographics, and podcasts. The website is a hub of news, articles and campaigns information related to free expression, and our social media networks and e-newsletters deliver timely and important stories to an ever-growing audience – all of which helps to build engagement with critical free expression issues.
“IFEX's strength is our global view: putting things into perspective and identifying trends. We come from all parts of the world and sometimes we get so engulfed in our own realities, we miss the big picture. IFEX provides this.” – 2014 evaluation
“IFEX has focused attention and maintained momentum on freedom of expression issues, and is a focal point for this issue for members who work on multiple issues. No other organisation has this reach or focus.” – 2014 evaluation