Academic Freedom and Human Rights

The Royal Society considers academic freedom to be central to the practice of science, and believes it is key to the Society’s purpose to support excellence in science for the benefit of humanity. It is essential that individuals and institutions have the freedom to carry out teaching and research activities without fear of discrimination, censorship, or other restrictions that would prevent them from carrying out their scientific work. This was outlined in a 2020 Royal Society statement on academic freedom (PDF). The Society also opposes blanket academic boycotts.

The Royal Society is a member of the UK and Ireland Academies Human Rights Committee (UKIHRC), along with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Medical Science, the British Academy, the Learned Society of Wales, the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh

The UKHRC acts in support of academic freedom around the world through information-sharing, awareness-raising and advocacy, both in general and through responding to individual alerts issued by the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies and Scholars at Risk, both of which identify incidents where researchers worldwide have been subjected to repression. The UKHRC’s practice is to act in cases where there is evidence that the human rights of an individual researcher have been violated or denied because of their academic or scientific work.