IPA Opens the Prix Voltaire to International Nominations

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Nominations for the 2024 Prix Voltaire have opened, the laureate to be honored at Guadalajara’s International Publishers Congress.

Last year’s Prix Voltaire laureate, the publisher Mazin Lateef Ali who founded Baghdad’s Dar Mesopotamia, was kidnapped at gunpoint on January 21, 2020. No news of his fate has followed, and the award was accepted by Abdulmoahimen Mazin Lateef on behalf of his father. Image: IPA, Abdulmoahimen Mazin Lateef

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Deadline for Submissions: March 22
This morning in Geneva (January 11), James Taylor, who directs the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA) unique Prix Voltaire, has announced the opening of nominations for the 2024 edition of this compelling, influential award.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Prix Voltaire honors “exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their freedom of expression.”

In the context of this year’s call for nominations, the program is drawing an important distinction. While the freedom to publish is—along with copyright—one of the bedrock principles of the international body, “the protection and promotion” of that freedom to publish is one of the IPA’s central objectives.

While it may be relatively easy for an author to be seen as courageous for producing work that could attract the wrath of governments, extremists, or private interests, publishers “run the same risks as the writers,” facing the possibility of intimidation, attack, imprisonment, and even death.

Kristenn Einarsson

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA Freedom to Publish committee, which produces the Prix Voltaire, says, “The pressures on publishers are constantly increasing.

“The Prix Voltaire is our way of recognizing those brave publishers who continue to publish in the face of pressure and at their own risk. Every year we’re inspired by the publishers nominated for the Prix Voltaire and look forward to being inspired again by this year’s nominees.”

Volodymyr Vakulenko

Last year’s Prix Voltaire went to Iraqi publisher Mazin Lateef Ali in an event held at Norway’s World Expression Forum, WEXFO, founded and led by Einarsson in Lillehammer.

There, the Lateef Ali prize was presented, as was a special award for the late children’s author and poet Volodymyr Vakulenko, whose remains were found in a mass grave in Ukraine.

Victoria Amelina

The sense of tragedy around the program’s honors for such brave publishing players was compounded when the Ukrainian writer and war-crimes researcher Victoria Amelina—who presented the special award for Vakulenko—was killed, herself, in a Russian attack in June at Kramatorsk.

Those who have followed the progress and impact of the Prix Voltaire over its 16 award iterations have become particularly sensitized to how important the donations are of publishers who make possible the prize’s purse of 10,000 Swiss francs.

This year, those sponsoring publishers are:

In a daunting sign of these times when political controversy can include acts and/or threats of violence, the Association of American Publishers has announced that their latest International Freedom to Publish Award is simply going to “all publishing houses that continue to publish in the in the face of increased government pressure, harassment, and threats in multiple countries and regions of the world.” The reason, according to the AAP, is that “a number of publishing houses under consideration expressed concern over increased public recognition, fearing additional reprisals from local governments for both the recognition and their underlying work of disseminating materials that are critical of current regimes or politicians, or depict underrepresented groups, including LGBTQ+ individuals.”

Making Nominations to the Prix Voltaire

Any individual, group, or organization can nominate a publisher, defined as an individual, collective, or organization providing others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

Nominees will have recently published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation, or harassment. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record over many years of upholding the freedom to publish and freedom of expression.

Nominations are to be submitted by email using the application form, sending it to the IPA at prix-voltaire@internationalpublishers.org.

Following the March 22 closure of nominations, the IPA Freedom to Publish committee’s nine members will work through a longlist, a shortlist, and finally a recommendation for the 2024 Prix Voltaire laureate.

The culminating ceremony this year is to be held during the December 3 to 6 International Publishers Congress at Guadalajara.

Prix Voltaire Laureates to Date
Year Prix Voltaire Laureate Special Award
2023 Mazin Lateef Ali (Iraq) Volodymyr Vakulenko (Ukraine), Victoria Amelina (Ukraine)
2022 Same Sky Books (Thailand)
2021 Dar Al Jadeed (Lebanon) Li Liqun (China)
2020 Liberal Publishing House (Vietnam)
2019 Khaled Lotfy (Egypt)
2018 Gui Minhai (Sweden / Hong Kong
2017 Turhan Günay and publishing house Evrensel
2016 Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabia)
2014 Ihar Lohvinau (Belarus)
2012 “Zapiro” (South Africa)
2011 Bui Chat (Vietnam)
2010 I. Shovkhalov and V. Kogan-Yasni of DOSH (Chechnya / Russia)
2009 S Bensedrine, N. Rijba, M. Talbi, Founders of OLPEC (Tunisia) Irfran Sanci (Turkey)
2008 Ragip Zarakolu (Turkey)
2007 Trevor Ncube (Zimbabwe) Anna Politkovskaya (Russia) and Hrant Dink (Turkey)
2006 Shalah Lahiji (Iran)

To find out how you or your organization can support the IPA Prix Voltaire, contact prix-voltaire@internationalpublishers.org.

At the University of Guadalajara’s Santander Center for the performing arts, where the 34th International Publishers Congress will be held and the 17th IPA Prix Voltaire’s laureate will be honored. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

More from Publishing Perspectives on issues of the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here, more on the Prix Voltaire is here, and on the International Publishers Association is here. More on the World Expression Forum, WEXFO, is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.


About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.