International Cities of Refuge Network

ICORN is an independent, international membership organization whose members include 75 cities in 18 countries of Europe, the United States of America and Latin America. The majority are in Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the USA.

“The spaces for freedom of expression are shrinking on a global scale. It is the task of ICORN to mobilize cities all over the world to become committed actors for human rights and freedom of expression, making the values of solidarity, creativity and hospitality core priorities of each city’s policy.”




Improved conditions for freedom of expression worldwide.



ICORN enables cities around the world to provide safe havens for persecuted writers and artists, working together to

• advance freedom of expression.

• defend democratic values.

• promote international solidarity



The goal of ICORN is to protect and promote as many persecuted writers and artists as possible. The more cities stand up for freedom of expression and sign up as cities of refuge in the ICORN network, the more persecuted writers, artists, journalists and human rights defenders from all over the world will find a safe haven, enabling them to continue their fight for human rights and freedom of expression in their home countries.

At the same time, ICORN residents are vital sources of new energy and insights in and with the cities that host them. Since ICORN started in 2006, more than 250 writers and artists at risk have found refuge in ICORN cities. Each is a story of hardship, threats and persecution, but simultaneously a story of courage, creativity and intercultural exchange.

“ICORN and its member cities can never work and operate in a vacuum. We totally depend on a growing amount of partners and cooperative bodies and organizations, working together to make to the world a freer and better place for all.” 



ICORN is currently developing a new strategic plan for the period 2022-2026. It wants to grow the network, recruit new member cities worldwide, and work with a wide range of sister networks and other cooperating bodies and organizations to make together a global leap forward for human rights and freedom of expression.

The core task remains the same, however. Each individual voice that is suppressed and stifled is important and worthy of support. Among our priorities is a new plan to engage the immense resources of member cities in even closer cooperation to achieve and realize ICORN’s vision  and mission. As an example, eight ICORN cities that have been European Capitals of Culture will join together in a project titled Arts of Democracy.

Individual projects with ICORN artists will be made in each city in 2022 and 2023. The programme will culminate in the City of Bodø, Norway, when it celebrates its designation as European Capital of Culture.