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Freedom of Expression

European Court of Human Rights

PEN International brings together writers, journalists, poets – all those using the written word to promote ideas – in the common belief that it is through this sharing that bridges of understanding can be built between peoples. These bridges cross political, geographical, ethnic, cultural, religious and other divides.

It is for this reason that the protection of the right to freedom of expression – the freedom to express ideas without fear of attack, arrest or other persecution – has been at the heart of International PEN’s work since it was formed in 1921. PEN’s Charter pledges that all members will oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible.

PEN International and our centres also undertake research reports  and submissions to the UN Universal Periodic Review process on the latest developments on freedom of expression at the country level. PEN’s international advocacy at the national, regional and international levels builds on this evidence-based research and policy.


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, Universal Declaration of Human Rights