Report on academic freedom and the freedom of opinion and expression
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
To the GA, 75th session
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression focuses on the freedom of opinion and expression aspects of academic freedom. The report highlights the special role played by academics and academic institutions in democratic society and noting that, without academic freedom, societies lose one of the essential elements of democratic self-governance: the capacity for self-reflection, for knowledge generation and for a constant search for improvements of people’s lives and social conditions.
The Special Rapporteur finds that threats to and restrictions on academic freedom limit the sharing of information and knowledge, an integral component of the right to freedom of expression. The Special Rapporteur reveals that academics and their institutions face social harassment and State repression for their research, the questions that they pursue, the points that they raise and the methodologies that they bring to bear on public policy – or simply for the stature that their academic work has given them in society.
While the focus is on the ways in which the freedom of opinion and expression protects and promotes academic freedom, the Special Rapporteur also recognizes that there is no single, exclusive international human rights framework for the subject. The report emphasizes one set of protections for academic freedom, while recognizing and reaffirming others. The Special Rapporteur concludes with a set of recommendations to States, academic institutions, international organizations and civil society.
Summary of inputs received
NGOs and Civil Society Organisations