The International Publishers Association (IPA) has published its first Freedom to Publish Manifesto, a declaration of the IPA’s steadfast commitment to raise the alarm when publishers are threatened and to counter their repression through international activism.
The text was adopted by the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee (FtPC), which is comprised of nine international publishing professionals elected in October 2016 by the IPA General Assembly, the IPA’s highest decision-making body.
Founded in 1896 to defend and promote freedom to publish and copyright, the IPA’s Statutes declare that the first Object of the Association is:
To uphold and defend the right of publishers to publish and distribute works of the mind in complete freedom, provided that in so doing they respect all legal rights attached to these works within their own countries and internationally. It is the duty of the Association to oppose steadfastly any attempt or threat to restrict that freedom.
FtPC chair Kristenn Einarsson, a career publisher and director of the Norwegian Publishers Association (Norske Forleggerforening), said the Manifesto signalled the IPA’s resolve to address freedom to publish challenges in a strategic, targeted way.
He said: ‘We’re seeing more cases of publishers being threatened, attacked, imprisoned and even killed. With the Freedom to Publish Manifesto, the IPA is making a firm pledge to monitor and flag abuses, and mobilize its global network of diplomatic contacts, civil society organizations and its own members to challenge violations wherever they occur.’
Part of the IPA Freedom to Publish Manifesto reads:
Publishing is a powerful mechanism by which humanity has for centuries circulated works of the mind, information, ideas, beliefs and opinions...The IPA believes that the unique contribution of publishers to enabling freedom of expression, debate and dialogue by disseminating the works of others deserves distinct recognition and protection. The IPA is committed to defending and promoting the freedom to publish, which is under siege worldwide today.
It also describes the four ways that the IPA will do this work:
- Celebrating freedom to publish champions;
- Driving dialogue on freedom to publish;
- Challenging violations of freedom to publish;
- Helping IPA members to fight for freedom to publish.
Current priority cases include the state shuttering of 30 publishing houses in Turkey, the ongoing incommunicado detention in China of Swedish publisher Gui Minhai, and the violent arrests and interrogations of Belarusian publisher Miraslau Lazouski and bookseller Ales Jaudaha, who were seized by masked officers at a literature festival last month in Minsk.
In addition, the FtPC will next week begin examining the nominations received for this year’s IPA Prix Voltaire, which celebrates the courage and resilience of publishers who enable writers to exercise their freedom of expression despite incurring considerable personal risk to do so. As announced on 27 March, the 2017 prize will be presented on 29 September, at Göteborg Book Fair, Sweden.