Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Academic Freedom
On 23 October 2020 the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly will consider the report on academic freedom presented by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
● UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
● Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN
● Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN
● Open Society Foundations’ Education Program
● Scholars at Risk
The report focuses on the ways in which the freedom of opinion and expression protect and promote academic freedom, and the special role played by academics and academic institutions in democratic society when assured of institutional autonomy and self-governance. Without academic freedom, societies lose their capacity for self-reflection, for knowledge generation and for a constant search for improvements of people’s lives and social conditions.
Drawing on examples from all regions of the world, the report highlights the repression and harassment of scholars and students, unlawful restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression that
interfere with research, teaching, debate and discussion by the academic community in their institutions or in other fora, and various measures, from funding of research to hiring of professors
and administrators, that are used to erode and attack the autonomy of academic institutions.
The report provides clear guidance on the scope of academic freedom, recognizing that it is protected by a wide range of human rights norms and principles, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It encourages individuals and organizations to articulate their claims as violations of academic freedom, and concludes with a set of recommendations to States, academic institutions and civil society.
The side event is aimed at discussing how the report’s findings and recommendations can be used to ensure the realization of the freedom of opinion and expression to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers as an integral aspect of academic freedom, and enhance the ability of academics and institutions to contribute to democracy and development around the world.
This side event will provide a forum to discuss the challenges to academic freedom, including social harassment and political repression of scholars, students, and institutions around the globe, as well as legal protections offered by international human rights law, including in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and how the report’s analysis and recommendations can be used to protect the freedom of opinion and expression aspects of academic freedom worldwide.