About Freedom to Publish

One of IPA's primary objectives is to fight censorship and to safeguard the fundamental freedom of expression, freedom to publish and freedom to access information. IPA defends the rights of authors and publishers to create and distribute their works of the mind in complete freedom.

The freedom to publish is a subset of the freedom of expression. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is at the basis of democracy and is of fundamental importance to the safeguarding of human dignity. The diversity of sources of knowledge and information is an essential prerequisite for cultural diversity, creativity, prosperity, tolerance, and the development of societies worldwide.

Freedom of expression is embodied in many international treaties and declarations. Most prominently they can be found in the following international and regional instruments:

 Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A(III) of 10 December 1948:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200 A (XXI) of 16 December 1966:

“1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law or are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.”

 Article 10 European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, signed on 4 November 1950:

“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive an impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties an responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity of public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority or impartiality of the judiciary.”

IPA Freedom to Publish Manifesto

Publishing is a powerful mechanism by which humanity has for centuries circulated works of the mind, information, ideas, beliefs and opinions. Many international treaties and declarations* enshrine freedom of expression as an inalienable human right and affirm media freedom as fundamental to liberty.

Human rights are safeguards of human dignity, and unhindered access to multiple information sources is a prerequisite for diversity, creativity, prosperity, tolerance and progress. Freedom of expression is the basis for the creation of works of the mind; for publishers, it forms both the creative and economic foundation of their profession.

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. The IPA 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’.

It is the task of the IPA’s permanent Freedom to Publish Committee to manage the association’s work in this field by implementing programmes and activities in partnership with member associations, international organizations, and other non-governmental organizations.

The IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee does this by:

The IPA & Freedom to publish

The promotion and defence of freedom to publish, this fundamental subset of freedom of expression, has always been a key objective of the IPA. To fulfil this goal, IPA monitors, assists and lobbies, networks, rewards, showcases, observes, and leads fact-finding missions. Moreover, IPA is instrumental in selecting each year the World Book Capital City. The various means through which IPA tries to reach this key objective are outlined on the following pages.

IPA Prix Voltaire


Freedom of expression and freedom to publish are human rights under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet freedom to publish is under continuous, sustained daily attack, with writers and publishers vilified, jailed, tortured and killed merely for doing their jobs. In 2005, the IPA created the Freedom to Publish Prize to honour a person or organization adjudged to have made a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of freedom to publish in the world. In 2016, the prize was renamed the IPA Prix Voltaire, in tribute to the French philosopher and writer François-Marie Arouet (penname Voltaire), who propounded a doctrine of tolerance and free expression before the terms were in general use. Moreover, between 1755 and 1759 Voltaire lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where the IPA is based, before moving to the nearby French border town of Ferney, which was renamed Ferney-Voltaire in his honour after the French Revolution.

The IPA Prix Voltaire currently consists of CHF 10,000 and a certificate, presented each year by the IPA President.

The IPA Prix Voltaire is possible thanks to generous contributions from the following sponsors:

To find out how you or your organization can support the IPA Prix Voltaire, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Who can nominate?

IPA members, Freedom to Publish Committee members, publishers and publishing houses, international, professional and non-governmental organizations with interest in freedom of expression can nominate candidates for the IPA Prix Voltaire.


How to nominate?

The IPA issues a call for nominations with a  nomination form. Nominations need to include a comprehensive justification, preferably in English, and should be submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to IPA Director of Communications and Freedom to Publish, James Taylor.


Prix Voltaire Special Award

Periodically, the IPA Freedom to Publish Committee may confer the Prix Voltaire Special Award, a posthumous honour for individuals who have died recently for exercising their freedom of expression. The aim of the award is to give visibility to the laureate’s exceptional engagement for freedom of expression and expose how he or she was silenced. The award should promote the laureate’s legacy and support their family, friends and supporters, if necessary, by helping to ensure that the laureate and their case are not forgotten.

Recipients have typically demonstrated a courageous commitment to freedom of speech through lives spent writing, publishing, or in activism, and have been murdered, put to death, or lost their life in prison.

Any IPA member may alert the FtPC to cases which they feel are worthy of a Special Award. This may be done confidentially. FtPC members may nominate candidates for the Special Award.

Criteria for nominations: 

  • Posthumous
    • It should be awarded to individuals who devoted their lives to activities in favour of freedom of expression, or who died for the views they struggled to express freely. This concept includes but is not limited to laureates who were murdered, whose death was directly caused or precipitated by persecution, or who died in prison.
  • For an individual
    • The award aims to honour an individual (publishing houses and other companies are not eligible).
  • Exceptional
    • The laureate must have shown exceptional engagement for freedom of expression related to writing or publishing. The laureate need not necessarily be a publisher, but should be related to (book) publishing.
  • Recent
    • The death of the laureate should be relatively recent in order for the award to be given. There is no strict time limit, but news of the laureate’s death should normally not be older than about three years in order for the award to have the desired impact.


The Freedom to Publish Committee will consider the list of nominees according to the given criteria and decide on a laureate. The Special Award laureate will be announced at the same time as the Prix Voltaire.


Support the IPA Prix Voltaire

The IPA Prix Voltaire is possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of individuals, companies and publishing houses that share the values that this unique freedom of expression prize seeks to honour. The IPA welcomes any contribution. Find out more here.

Contributions to the IPA Prix Voltaire fund can be made using the following account details:

Bank: CREDIT SUISSE, 1211 Geneva 70, Switzerland
Account N°: 0271-651228-61-6
IBAN: CH11 0427 1065 1228 6100 6


Freedom to publish is a fundamental subset of freedom of expression, and is a prerequisite for a thriving publishing industry, which is itself an essential part of a democratic society and a basis for a knowledge economy. The protection and promotion of freedom to publish is therefore one of IPA's key objectives. To find out more about freedom to publish, and what IPA does in this field, please take a look at the various pages of this section.

Freedom to Publish Committee

Prix Voltaire Prizes

Prix Voltaire 2022

Same Sky Books (Thailand)

Prix Voltaire 2021

Dar Al Jadeed Publishing House (Lebanon)

Prix Voltaire 2020

Liberal Publishing House (Vietnam)

Prix Voltaire - 2019

Khaled Lotfy (Egypt)

Prix Voltaire – 2018

Gui Minhai (Sweden/Hong Kong)

Prix Voltaire – 2017

Jointly awarded to Turkish publishers Turhan Günay and Evrensel

Prix Voltaire – 2016

Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia)

Prix Voltaire – 2014

Ihar Lohvinau (Belarus)

Prix Voltaire – 2012

 “Zapiro” (South Africa)

Prix Voltaire – 2010

I. Shovkhalov & V. Kogan-Yasni of DOSH (Chechnya-Russia)

Prix Voltaire – 2009

S Bensedrine, N. Rijba, M. Talbi, Founders of OLPEC (Tunisia)

Prix Voltaire – 2008

Ragip Zarakolu (Turkey)

2007 IPA FTP Prize Special Award

Anna Politkovskaya and Hrant Dink

Prix Voltaire – 2007

Trevor Ncube (Zimbabwe)

Prix Voltaire – 2006

Shalah Lahiji (Iran)

International Publishers Association

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