Cooperation with Israeli partners - update 31 May 2024

(31-05-2024) Following new screening, Ghent University plans to end all ongoing institutional collaborations with Israeli universities and research institutions.

Rector Rik Van de Walle reveals the following in this regard.

The Committee on Human Rights Policy and Dual Use Research (CHRPDUR) of Ghent University met again yesterday for an evaluation of the ongoing collaborations with Israeli partners. For each of the academic partners, the CHRPDUR examined whether there is involvement in human rights violations. The CHRPDUR then provided me with its advice regarding these collaborations.

In addition to the collaborations with the three Israeli universities and research institutions for which it was already decided two weeks ago that the necessary steps will be taken to discontinue them, yesterday the CHRPDUR also recommended that the collaborations with four other universities and one research institution should be discontinued.

I have decided to follow this advice in its entirety. This implies that Ghent University intends to discontinue all ongoing institutional collaborations with Israeli universities and research institutions. The necessary steps will be taken within the consortia to explore whether cooperation with the Israeli partners involved can be discontinued. If this is not the case, Ghent University should take the necessary steps to withdraw from the projects itself. Obviously, this will be done with the utmost care for the researchers and promoters involved, while respecting contractual obligations.

There are (potential) partners for whom the CHRPDUR formulated a positive advice in the past but with whom no cooperation is currently ongoing. Should a new collaboration with one of those partners be considered, the CHRPDUR will re-screen that partner. Only with a positive outcome of that new screening will cooperation be allowed to be initiated.

In addition to universities and research institutions, Ghent University is a partner in ongoing collaborations involving Israeli companies or other non-academic partners. The CHRPDUR also re-evaluated these collaborations. Where the Israeli partner was found to be intertwined with the government, the CHRPDUR recommends taking the necessary steps to end the collaboration.

Where the CHRPDUR found no involvement in serious human rights violations, the collaboration can continue. In one case, the CHRPDUR will conduct additional research into the Israeli partner's possible entanglement with the government.

I also follow these advices in full.

Finally, the CHRPDUR notes that the participation of countries in European research programmes is grounded in the idea that participating member states respect and protect human rights, as mentioned, inter alia, in the cooperation agreement between the European Union and Israel. Given the scale, duration and nature of the human rights violations by the Israeli government, the CHRPDUR recommends that a plea be made through the appropriate channels to suspend Israel's participation in European research and education programmes. The CHRPDUR believes that Ghent University, along with other universities at home and abroad, could take a leading role in this. This too I concur.

I wish to explicitly express my appreciation and gratitude for the work done by the members of the Committee on Human Rights Policy and Dual Use Research.