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As the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last week, ARTICLE 19 - named after the article in the declaration that protects free expression - aptly celebrated its 20th anniversary. You too can take part in the celebrations, by checking out ARTICLE 19's commemorative book and website, "Speaking Out for Free Expression".

Set against the backdrop of dramatic world events, "Speaking Out for Free Expression" charts the course of free expression over the past two decades, from the end of the Cold War to the new war on terror. It offers accounts of 34 countries in five regions, plus essays by international experts, comparing today's reality with the situation for free expression in 1987.

The foreword of "Speaking Out for Free Expression" is jointly written by four special rapporteurs on freedom of expression from the United Nations, the Americas, Africa and Europe. Also weighing in with expert opinions are IFEX members Reporters without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Privacy International, the World Association of Newspapers and the IFEX Clearing House.

"Our 20th anniversary compendium celebrates the advances made for free speech in many countries, while also pointing to the newer terrains of struggle," said Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19's executive director.

Since its inception, ARTICLE 19 has been a bold voice in defence of freedom of expression, holding governments and other powerful actors to account when they fall short of their obligations to protect free speech, and making real inroads in free expression legislation.

The book is also available online, with neat interactive features, such as a timeline that documents free expression milestones, like the Tiananmen massacre, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and the growth of information technology and, sadly, Internet censorship.

Find out how your country has progressed (or regressed) over the years with two interactive maps that document press freedom and access to information annually since 1987.

"Speaking Out" was launched last week in London in front of 80 guests, including UN Special Rapporteur for Free Expression Frank La Rue. A message of support from Zwelakhe Sisulu, a South African editor who was detained a month after joining ARTICLE 19's first board, read, "ARTICLE 19 is an organisation that for many had made the difference between life and death, between pain and the ignominy of a lonely death."

Read "Speaking Out" here:

To read the full text of Sisulu's message, go to:

(17 December 2008)

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