PEN International campaigns on behalf of writers across the globe who are persecuted, harassed and attacked for what they have written, for having spoken out on behalf of others or simply for being a writer.
We also campaign on issues such as defamation, ‘insult’ law and the murder with impunity by those in power seeking to silence dissenters. We also identify countries where human rights records are particularly harsh, and make them the focus of campaigns. Campaigning for freedom of expression was at the heart of PEN from the moment we were founded in 1921, and has remained a constant priority to this day. Learn more about Our History.
Today, ‘freedom of expression’ means more to us than simply the basic right to share spoken or written ideas without fear of attack; it also means the right to share ideas and literatures across languages and cultures; the right to be published; the right to an education; the right to write in peace; and, critically, the right to read.
All our work, as well as the range of our campaigns, reflects this more general definition of what it means to have freedom of expression.