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IFEX at 25: Voices to be Reckoned With

This year the IFEX network marks 25 years in the defense of freedom of expression and information. As members from around the globe meet in Montreal for the 2017 IFEX Strategy Conference, it is a year rife with regimes inciting hatred and intolerance, with media and even the concept of truth attacked, devalued and undermined. And, at a time when so many rights are tied to internet access, shut-downs are on the rise. Is this the new normal?

2017 isn't business as usual.

Under the guise of 'populism', authoritarian regimes are inciting hatred and xenophobia, posing a direct threat to freedom of expression and human rights in general. Media are being devalued and undermined. Attacks on journalists' safety and reputations are diminishing the public's right to be informed. 'Alternative facts' are served up by social media and by governments, obstructing access to the credible information citizens need to engage meaningfully in their communities. And, at a time when so many free expression rights are tied to internet access, shut-downs are on the rise.

Is this the new normal?

The IFEX network now includes 119 non-governmental organisations committed to the defense of freedom of expression and information, based in 70 countries.

We are profoundly concerned by the diminishing space for a vibrant civil society in places where it is most needed. It is all taking a toll on our members, on our traditional allies, and on the important work we do.
We are meeting these challenges head on at our 2017 Strategy Conference.

On 12 June 2017, in Montreal, Canada, our network kicks off three days of solutions-oriented discussions with people on the free expression front lines, civil society organizations, and representatives from funding agencies, inter-governmental agencies and the media, coming from over 60 countries.

It will be a space to connect, assess our context, discuss threats to rights, tools to resist the increasing attacks on them, and ways to strengthen our resilience to better confront these challenges.

Timothy Garton Ash, author of Free Speech: 10 Principles for a Connected World, will get us started by presenting his framework for free expression rights. Then we'll hear stories and experiences from individuals who have been involved in movements designed to resist injustice in other areas. Along with these allies and stakeholders we will develop strategies for strengthening our resistance work and our resilience, as defenders of the right to freedom of expression and information.

Rights. Resistance. Resilience. IFEX is 25 this year, and we're ready. #IFEX25

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