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The International Publishers Association, the Norwegian Publishers Association and the Borsenverein, the German booksellers and publishers association, as well as wide range of book sector bodies across Norway and Sweden, are among backers of a new annual forum that will look at freedom of expression worldwide.

The first Forum is due to take place in Lillehammer, Norway in May 2022, and thereafter it is hoped that it will be an annual event.  At the moment WEXFO backers are essentially from Norway, Sweden and Germany, but a recruitment drive for more shareholders is underway.  Kristenn Einarsson, who heads the IPA’s Freedom to Publish committee, has been appointed WEXFO’s MD.

He says: “The need for a forum where the challenges to freedom of expression can be discussed and debated is greater than ever.  But we also need to showcase progress. Free media, literature and other art forms are fundamental preconditions for freedom of expression. They provide knowledge, and are central to constructive, critical debate. They challenge entrenched notions, shape our self-understanding and are at the same time taking care of the memory of society.  Freedom of speech is necessary for trust and openness, both between people and between people and social institutions. Freedom of speech is a prerequisite for a society for all.”

The World Expression Forum (WEXFO) aims ‘to ensure and empower global free speech based on high level guidance, best practice, and high-quality analysis. WEXFO will be a common arena for those with a firm belief in freedom of expression as a prerequisite for a global sustainable development. Our ambition is that the WEXFO will be as important for the development of freedom of expression as the World Economic Forum is for the development of world economics’.