International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, exists to promote friendship and goodwill among writers everywhere, regardless of their political or other views, to fight for freedom of expression and to defend vigorously writers suffering under oppressive regimes. PEN is strictly non-political, a non-governmental organisation with category A status at UNESCO. It is composed of centres, each of which represents its members, not its country. Membership is open to all writers, regardless of nationality, race, colour or religion, and each centre, being autonomous, sets its own membership qualifications. PEN is currently represented in 131 countries throughout the world. Its publishing arm, International PEN Books, is engaged in the publication of anthologies and histories of contemporary literature from around the world.