On the same morning that the American Library Association reported that the number of unique titles targeted for removal in the United States hit record levels for another year running, surging 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, fellow organizations across the international book business came together to reaffirm their commitment to freedom of expression and the freedoms to publish and to read.

The European and International Booksellers Federation, International Authors Forum, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, International Publishers Association, and PEN International jointly released a statement on March 14 in response to "the increasing efforts to restrict books" and "those who write them, publish them, or make them available to readers." Called the "International Statement On the Freedom of Expression, and the Freedoms to Publish and Read," the statement follows an earlier reaffirmation, from June 2023, by the organizations' American colleagues—the American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild—of a joint statement from 1953 on the Freedom to Read.

The statement will be made available to sign following "A Trinity of Freedoms at Risk: Expression, Publishing and Reading," a Thursday panel at the London Book Fair, and can also be signed online. The full statement is below.

International Statement On the Freedom of Expression, and the Freedoms to Publish and Read

With the core purpose of providing access to a wide variety of written works for all, we have come together to support the freedoms to express, publish, and read. It is our belief that society needs enlightened citizens who, based on accurate knowledge and information, make choices and participate in democratic progress. Authors, publishers, booksellers and libraries have a role to play in this which should be recognized, valued, and enabled.

True freedom to read means being able to choose from the broadest range of books sharing the widest range of ideas. Unrestrained communication is essential to a free society and a creative culture but carries with it the responsibility to resist hate speech, deliberate falsehoods and distortion of facts. Authors, publishers, booksellers, and libraries make an essential contribution to guaranteeing this freedom.

Subject to the limits set by international human rights law and standards, authors must have guaranteed freedom of expression. Through their work we understand our societies, build empathy, overcome our prejudices, and reflect on provocative ideas.

Equally, booksellers and librarians must be free to present the full range of works, across the ideological spectrum, to all. They should not have that freedom constrained by governments or local authorities, individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large, even when this is done in the name of the 'community' or of its majority.

For booksellers and librarians to present the broadest range of written works, there must be the freedom to publish . Publishers must be free to publish those works which they believe important, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or might even be considered offensive by some in particular groups.

It is the responsibility and mission of publishers, booksellers, and librarians, through their professional judgment, to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing everyone with access to authors' works. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not necessarily endorse every work they make available. While individual publishers and booksellers make their own editorial decisions and selections, access to writings should not be limited on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

The risk of self-censorship due to social, political or economic pressures remains high, affecting every part of the chain from writer to reader. Society must create the environment for authors, publishers, booksellers and librarians to fulfill their missions freely.

We therefore call on governments and all other stakeholders to help protect, uphold and promote the three above freedoms—of expression, and to publish and read—in law and in practice.