european students’ union

Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Academic Freedom

October 21, 2020

 Save the date: Thursday, 22 October 2020, 15:00-16:00 CEST

The UN Special Rapporteur, Irene Khan, is convening the side event “Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Academic Freedom” to the United Nations’ General Assembly, to discuss the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as outlined in this recent UN report. Irene will be joined by the Government of Finland, Mexico and Qatar, Scholars at Risk and the Open Society Foundations’ Education Program.

The panel will discuss report’s findings and recommendations; how to ensure the protection and realization of the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, as an integral part of the freedom of expression; the critical importance of academic communities and institutions to contribute to free, prosperous societies and human progress around the globe.

From ESU, we encourage our member student unions to join the discussion and we are pleased to see the following elements in the UN report:

  • The report asserts that (i) academic freedom is protected by human rights principles, (ii) it is bigger than just a subset of free expression, and (iii) includes “extramural” expression of scholars engaging in their professional capacities outside of the classroom;
  • Recognises students’ enjoyment of academic freedom and discusses student protest;
  • Recognises and links academic freedom to the university’s vital role in democratic society; and
  • In its recommendations, asserts a state responsibility to protect academic freedom and challenges higher education institutions and civil society to press UN and regional human rights mechanisms to do more to address the issue.

Find out more information about the event on this document.

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