Academic freedom is a precious asset of any society committed to the protection of human freedom and human rights. At the same time, it is severely curtailed in various countries in the world. Academics face repression, purges and criminal sanctions for the exercise of this fundamental freedom. A panel, organized by the Executive Committee of the IVR, was held on 18 July 2017 at the IVR Lisbon World Congress to address this matter, the principles at stake, their philosophical foundations and their political relevance and consequences in current affairs.
Earlier this year the Executive Committe of the IVR has sent a letter Minister Zoltan Balog of Hungary, expressing its concern over the situation of the Central European University at Budapest:
May 15, 2017
Mr Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3
Dear Minister Balog,
I write on behalf of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR). The IVR was founded in 1909 and represents national associations of legal philosophy and philosophers of law throughout the world. We are writing to express solidarity with the Central European University and deep concern at the recent legislative changes to CEU’s status in Hungary.
Freedom of academic discourse within and between nations is of central concern to all those interested in justice and a just rule of law. The CEU has been an important contributor to such research, in Hungary and elsewhere. These new legislative changes will endanger the conditions vital for CEU’s continued operation and will strike a blow against the academic freedom that enables all universities, including those in Hungary, to flourish.
The CEU is a unique institution, in Hungary, in central Europe, and indeed in the world. Its presence in Hungary has added significantly to the reputation of Hungarian academic life on the international stage. Moreover, while it is housed in one country it is in fact a world university, drawing staff and students from around the globe and providing an education unparalleled in most parts of the world, and unprecedented in the post-communist region.
We ask the Hungarian Government to bear in mind the damage such legislation will do to Hungary’s well-founded international academic reputation, to its relationships with its European partners, the United States and other global regions, and to the cause of academic freedom world-wide. We respectfully request that the government reaffirm Hungary’s leading role in the world’s pursuit of learning and justice, and discuss with the representatives of the CEU how best to to alter this legislation and return this unique institution to its rightful position of security against political interference.