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NHC was present at the Association of Human Rights Institutes Conference (AHRI)

13 September 2016

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, set up by the UN and adopted by the international community, is a roadmap for the creation of prosperity for the people and protection of the planet. Its mechanisms are aimed at strengthening universal peace and basic freedoms. Moreover, one of its elements is ensuring the quality of education at all levels, as well as scientific research.

But what happens when the space for innovation and critical thinking is being forcibly limited? Recent events in Turkey, India, Egypt and other countries are emblematic examples of a reversal of academic freedom. Under this crackdown, professors and students are being suspended, detained or even mistreated on the pretext of security and counter-terrorism measures. Not only do those practices occasionally constitute grave human rights violations, but they also put democracy and freedom into peril.

These worrying trends shaped the agenda of the Association of Human Rights Institutes Conference (AHRI) that was held in Utrecht earlier this month. NHC had the opportunity to participate in the conference that gathered more than 230 international experts, united by their mission to safeguard human rights. The pursuit of knowledge and research became the centerpiece of the conference, as AHRI adopted the Utrecht Declaration on Academic Freedom, to demonstrate its solidarity with the global academic community.

The Declaration stresses the vital role of academic freedom for social and political development, and deplores the acts of disciplinary actions and threats against individual scholars and academic institutions, committed in the name of counter-crime and public order. In line with the Declaration, NHC calls on the international community to unite against such practices and provide assistance for those who have been affected.

Read the Utrecht Declaration on Academic Freedom here.