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:
- Albert Bonniers Förlag (Sweden)
- Bonnier Media Deutschland (Germany)
- Holtzbrinck (Germany)
- Norstedts (Sweden)
- Penguin Random House
- Samlaget (Norway)
- C.H.Beck (Germany)
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?
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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. As such, the IPA is working to increase the impact and stature of the IPA Prix Voltaire – including by raising the prize money – and welcomes any contribution, no matter how small (or large!). 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
A/c Name: IPA FREEDOM TO PUBLISH PRIZE
IBAN: CH11 0427 1065 1228 6100 6
SWIFT code: CRESCHZZ12D