IFLA/IPA Joint Statement: IFLA and IPA deplore OFAC regulations limiting the exchange of information materials (2004)
A joint steering group with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers’ Association (IPA)
Representing book and journal publishers through national, regional and specialised publishers associations
Librarians and publishers around the world deplore the regulations of the US government that seek to limit the ability of US persons to process and publish informational materials from selected countries. Such actions are contradictory to the recognition by democratic societies everywhere that the free flow of information and ideas is vital to citizens of all nations to educate themselves about the world by communicating with peoples of other countries.
Regulations by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) in the implementation of trade embargoes against certain nations attempt to restrict the importation and exportation of information and informational materials in ways that are contrary to international norms of open scholarly, cultural and scientific exchange. Such exchanges are usually championed by the US government. As pointed out by our colleagues in the US, the national security of the US is not at issue in these matters because the regulations allow publications of manuscripts as received from nationals in embargoed countries, but does not allow “significant or artistic enhancement” of such materials by a US person without a license from the US government. Such enhancements promote free speech and free exchange of information.
We believe that these trade restrictions on information and informational materials violate important provisions of international law, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights.