Letter of concern to IFLA on the World Library and Information Congress in 2024

The IFLA Governing Board recently announced its decision to hold the IFLA WLIC 2024 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As a member of IFLA we strongly question this choice.

Amnesty International reveals in its latest annual report that there are repeated attacks on the freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions, practice of torture and ill-treatment as well as disrespect of the rights of women and LGBTQI+ people in the United Arab Emirates. Homosexuality is outlawed and we understand that there can be no meetings, programming or even mentioning of the IFLA LGBTQ Users Special Interest Group during the congress, which we find deeply concerning. 

IFLA’s core values include “the commitment to promote and value diversity and inclusion, notably as regards age, citizenship, disability, ethnicity, gender-identity, geographical location, language, political philosophy, race, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and actively pursue relevant policies and practices”. (IFLA Strategy 2019-2024).

We believe that the choice of Dubai as the host city for its annual congress contradicts IFLA’s principles.

It also contradicts IAML’s convictions. “As an association, IAML is strongly committed to diversity, equality, and the free expression of ideas, based on a firm belief in the value of civil discourse and the free exploration of competing ideas and concepts – with a fundamental respect for the rights, dignity, and value of all persons.” (from IAML’s Code of conduct).

How does the IFLA Governing Board intend to ensure that the association’s values are maintained and respected by the appropriate government bodies of the UAE?? Will the groups that are part of the association and make up the different units (e.g. Ensulib, LGBTQ+ Users, Relindial, WILSIG) be able to address their subjects, such as the rights of women and LGBTQI+ people during the congress? Can their personal safety be guaranteed?

IAML asks the IFLA Board of Directors to reconsider its decision until guarantees are provided concerning:

  • the freedom of expression about all topics usually addressed during WLIC
  • the safety of all participants no matter what identities they express

Pia Shekhter
IAML President, on behalf of the IAML Board


English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish