07.08.2014 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

UNESCO condemns violations of academic freedoms in Iraq

© UNESCO Iraq 2014

Statement by Axel Plathe, UNESCO Representative to Iraq

UNESCO is alarmed on recent reports on violations of academic freedoms in various universities in Iraq, namely the University of Mosul, the University of Tikrit, the University of Anbar in Ramadi and the University of Diyala in Baqubah.

Reports indicate that professors, researchers and students are increasingly exposed to pressure. For example, study programmes, in particular in the areas of law, religious sciences natural sciences, education and fine arts are being altered. In addition, the principle of co-education is being jeopardized.

Higher education and research are instrumental in the pursuit, advancement and transfer of knowledge and constitute an exceptionally rich cultural and scientific asset for Iraq. They must not become targets of ideological indoctrination.

The principle of academic freedom must be scrupulously observed. Higher education teaching personnel are entitled to the maintaining of academic freedom. Any form of discrimination including the discrimination between women and men, be they university faculty, staff or students, is unacceptable.

Iraq’s higher education institutions must remain zones of peace, zones of freedom for critical enquiry, learning and service to the community and zones of equal educational opportunities for women and men.

UNESCO urges the respect of the provisions of the “Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel” of 1997 that constitutes an international standard to be upheld in the interest of higher education internationally and within a country.

According to the Recommendation, all higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to fulfil their functions without discrimination of any kind and without fear of repression by the state or any other source. Higher-education teaching personnel should not be forced to instruct against their own best knowledge and conscience or be forced to use curricula and methods contrary to national and international human rights standards.

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