Scholars At Risk (SAR) uOttawa Program Contributes to UNGA Report on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Academic Freedom Report 2020

On May 2020, David Kaye, then UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, organized a consultation to develop a report on academic freedom for the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. The SAR uOttawa Human Rights Clinic team at the HRREC was invited to contribute and produced a document with their findings titled "Threats to Academic Freedom in the Americas" (PDF in English).

The UNSR report was finally presented to the General Assembly on October 23, 2020. The document includes legal arguments and findings submitted by our Clinic and focuses on the freedom of opinion and expression aspects of academic freedom, highlighting the special role played by academics and academic institutions in democratic society. The report notes 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." Read the UNSR Report in English and French.

The formal presentation was accompanied by a side event organized with the incoming Special Rapporteur, Irene Khan. During the virtual session, speakers discussed 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.

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