Human Rights' Policy at Ghent University

(27-01-2018) Human rights are a vital cornerstone of Ghent University’s social and international engagement.

For this reason the board recently approved a human rights charter, which includes a checklist (impact assessment) for prospective supervisors to assess whether their project or cooperation idea should be rejected in advance or requires advice from the Human Rights Policy Committee on Internationalisation. 

human rights clause will also help the respecting of human rights in all international cooperation matters.

"Human rights are part of Ghent University’s DNA," says rector Rik Van de Walle in De Standaard (21 January 2018). "With this clause and the committee we hope to become a global pioneer."

Impact assessment

To enable Ghent University to prevent possible negative consequences in the area of human rights, an impact assessment on human rights was included in the process before international cooperation was entered into. This means that the (prospective) supervisor at Ghent University verifies the human rights impact of activities taken within the framework of cooperation. The latter must be understood in the broad sense and includes international cooperation entered into by the university, the faculties, research groups or individual researchers, including bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Prospective supervisors can request advice from the Human Rights Policy Committee on Internationalisation on the human rights impact assessment relating to their intended international cooperation/project. Guidelines are based on a series of risk factors. For more information consult the Checklist Impact Assessment

Professor of human rights and former chair of Amnesty International Eva Brems is a member of the Human Rights Policy Committee on Internationalisation. Eva Brems in De Standaard (21 January 2018): "The Turkish universities, for example, will be an important file. Can we still work together after critical voices were silenced en masse there by dismissal? This is a violation of the freedom of speech. But, of course, hard-working academics can’t become a victim of this. "

Eva Brems emphasises that no countries will be targeted.  "We look at what the local partner does. Is this university itself violating human rights? Is research in which we are involved used to violate human rights? All this could result in a negative recommendation."

Human rights clause

In addition to the impact assessment, a human rights clause has also been developed. All cooperation agreements where Ghent University is in a position to negotiate on the conditions contain this human rights clause; it will enable Ghent University to terminate the cooperation agreement if there are clear indications that the partner organisation is involved in a serious human rights violation. The human rights clause gives the university the opportunity to react to serious human rights violations by the partner organisation of which it was not aware in advance or which only arose after the cooperation had been entered into.

Human Rights Policy Committee

More information