City Membership in ICORN

As a part of ICORN, your city can stand in the forefront with change makers to improve the conditions of freedom of expression for everyone. More than 80 cities have joined ICORN to offer writers, journalists, and artists at risk a safe environment and the opportunity to work and express themselves freely and without fear of persecution. 

Does the road to changing the world go through City Hall?
Benjamin Barber

Why Cities

Cities and civil society institutions are well-placed and equipped to take on the responsibility to protect and promote freedom of expression and provide holistic support to writers, journalists, and artists at risk.

Local governments can ensure sustainability of resources and commitments to the programme and offer an inclusive civic space that enables inhabitants to be active in the community, while allowing for physical and psychological recovery and continuing professional work and development in a safe environment.

A crucial aspect of the ICORN programme is to make strong partnerships for a collaborative effort between local authorities and civil society organizations and actors. The implementation of the programme is most often done by partners in the city; by civil society organisations, profession-based institutions, or social security offices.


Becoming a part of ICORN, your city can: 

- Stand up for freedom of expression, promote international solidarity and defend democratic values, both symbolically and in practice.

- Gain international visibility and recognition via opportunities for increased international cooperation, knowledge sharing and networks within human rights and culture.

- Offer a space where writers, artists, and journalists at risk can live and work in a safe environment, saving lives and voices.

- Be a mediator of stories that otherwise risk being untold or forgotten.

- Create heightened awareness on human rights and uphold the dialogue about our civil rights, like freedom of expression, connecting and empowering the local community.

- Re-shape the cultural and free speech landscape of the city and create bridges among the population through a deeper understanding of situations and cultural expressions elsewhere in the world.

- Step forward and underline the values of hospitality and solidarity when nations are put under pressure by unprecedented political challenge.

- Improve and establish sustainable human rights mechanisms within the local government and community.


How to join ICORN

Cities willing to work for freedom of expression and human rights can commit to the terms of the ICORN Membership Agreement and join ICORN as a City of Refuge.

Your city becomes a member by signing and committing to the ICORN Membership Agreement. Before that, you need to identify formal partners, establish financial and professional backing for the programme, find a coordinating institution or organisation as well as accommodation, grant, and social security for the hosted residents.

Local governments and partners also need to work closely with the national administration and ministries to organise matters relating to relocation, such as expediting visa processes and easing travel requirements.

ICORN will assist you in finding the best solution for your city. If you are interested in becoming a member of ICORN, please contact us on for more information.

Please see the Membership Agreement for more detail on the commitments of a City of Refuge.