18th General Meeting and Strategy Conference of International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has been held in the capital Port-of-Spain of Trinidad & Tobago in the northeastern coast of Venezuela. IFEX increased its members from 88 to 104.
As one of 104 IFEX’s members, Metamorphosis Foundation attends the Strategic Conference and General Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago from 5th to 8th October 2015. The conference takes place every 2 years with more than 100 organizations from 70 countries around the world. The event is about learning and sharing experience from IFEX and all members on defending and promoting Freedom of Expression as a fundamental human right and voting for new candidates to be IFEX’s member and council.
Delegates renewed the Council of IFEX in the congress which is symbolizing international collaboration of freedom of expression for 23 years where 170 representatives have attended from 70 different countries.
IFEX which had functioned under the umbrella of Canadian Journalist for Free Expression (CJFE) gained status as a “non-profit organization,” and so CJFE and IFEX were separated.
Moreover; the applications of 15 rights organizations from Pakistan , Belarus, Cambodia , Sri Lanka , Macedonia, Hungary , the UK, the U.S.A , Ireland, Costa Rica , Lebanon , Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago and Tunisia which requested to be the new members of IFEX were accepted.
New freedom of expression organizations newly joined IFEX are:
Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), Bites For All (B4A) from Pakistan, Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM), Free Media Movement (FMM) from Sri Lanka, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), Metamorphosis from Macedonia, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), Children’s Rights International Network (CRIN) from Britain, Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión (IPLEX) from Costa Rica, Karisma Foundation from Colombia, March and Social Media Exchange (SMEX) from Lebanon, Publishers & Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) from Trinidad & Tobago and Civil Coalition for the Defense of Freedom of Expression (CCDLE) from Tunisia.
Canada-based IFEX is known as umbrella organization for international and fundamental organizations like Reporters without Borders (RSF), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Press Institute (IPI), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Article 19. (BA/BD)
Gathering to work on issues such as hate speech, online harassment, the right to protest, criminal defamation and the increasing problem of government crackdowns on civil society leverages our strengths, and is critical to our success. As IFEX Executive Director Annie Game noted, “we are a network of organisations that work together in different ways all the time. There is an evolution in this IFEX network, not just in numbers, but in direction, knowledge and experience—and we continue to grow. The diversity in expertise, culture, language, context and opinion doesn’t divide us so much as it makes us stronger and increases our influence.”
The debates extended to hands-on workshops where participants could strengthen their work by exchanging skills, experiences and challenges on campaigning, communications, financial planning, digital security and digital collaboration—in small group sessions and in one-on-one meetings with specialists in the IFEX Marketplace. Donors joined in, promoting an honest, constructive dialogue with the community of free expression organisations through their active participation in sessions and informal Q&As. Participants from Africa, Latin America and the MENA region held regional face-to-face meetings in the days preceding and following the conference to explore new opportunities to work—and be stronger— together.
The aim of the conference was to provide a space to imagine the change we need to see and find ways to connect, contribute and collaborate to make that happen. Everyone—the planners, coordinators, facilitators, and of course the participants—generously shared their knowledge, expertise and their passion. And for that, we are thankful.