The United States and about 70 other countries issued a joint statement Wednesday supporting academic freedom.
“Academic freedom is key to human rights education but also essential for technical and scientific progress and for the development of the creative industries and the arts,” says the statement, issued at the 52nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. “It is intrinsically linked to the effective enjoyment of other rights and freedoms, such as participation in public affairs, freedom of opinion and expression and the right to education, demonstrating the indivisibility of all human rights.
“Without freedom to teach and research, and without freedom to disseminate and debate the results of research, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will be compromised,” the statement says. “Without academic freedom, there is no safeguard against the manipulation of information or against the distortion of history.”
“Regrettably, attacks on academic freedom are on the rise,” the statement says. “These include: repression, intimidation and harassment of researchers and teachers in connection with their research and public statements; dissolution of research institutions and the establishment of restrictive legal or financial frameworks.”
“We hereby call for enhanced international cooperation towards strengthening the protection and promotion of academic freedom in the spirit of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,” the statement says. “We further call on the United Nations human rights system to redouble efforts in addressing this issue, in conjunction with relevant multilateral and regional institutions.”
Scholars at Risk, which says it’s an international network of institutions and people protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom, praised the statement.
“As the signatories acknowledged, attacks against academic freedom are on the rise around the world, imperiling social, political and scientific progress, political participation, and numerous related rights and freedoms,” said Rob Quinn, Scholars at Risk’s executive director, in a news release.