Berlin declaration pledges support for threatened academics

The academic exchange organisations of the G7 states have presented a joint declaration on international academic cooperation in times of crisis with partners from eight further countries and the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), the European umbrella organisation of internationalisation agencies.

The “Berlin Declaration on International Academic Cooperation amidst a World in Crisis” is the outcome of the Higher Education Summit 2022 held in Berlin in early May by the ‘G7 + Partners’, a group of international education agencies from the G7 countries and ACA, plus international education agencies from Spain, Poland, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, the Czech Republic and Austria.

This year’s meeting was dedicated to “International Academic Cooperation amidst a World in Crisis: Opportunities and Challenges”. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) had invited the participants to Berlin in the context of Germany’s G7 presidency and in the run-up to the G7 Summit in June, which will also be held in Germany.

Democratic values

Against the background of the war in Ukraine, the signatories of the declaration see themselves united “in the belief that democratic states which cherish and share fundamental values such as freedom, including academic freedom, and the rule of law, should stand together, and that their higher education institutions need to continue to collaborate closely”.

They regard the mission of international academic cooperation as that of seeking and developing “solutions to global challenges such as climate change, gender equality, healthcare and the peaceful resolution of conflicts”.

The ‘G7 + Partners’, who already maintain close working relationships and seek to intensify them, believe that their countries and higher education institutions should be “safe havens for students and scholars that face persecution or were forced to flee their homeland due to armed conflict, irrespective of nationality”.

They therefore pledge to work with national and regional authorities as well as other partners to support threatened or persecuted scholars. Furthermore, they seek to support post-conflict institutional rebuilding as well as capacity and leadership development.

Higher education is a necessity

According to the ‘G7 + Partners’, every humanitarian relief effort should address higher education which, they stress, is a necessity in times of conflict.

“Given the war in Ukraine and numerous crises worldwide, academic exchange is confronted with new geopolitical conditions,” said DAAD Secretary General Kai Sicks, winding up the meeting.

Sicks emphasised that the joint declaration was meant to draw attention to establishing more safe havens for threatened students and researchers.

“We are currently witnessing that ongoing programmes are in huge demand,” Sicks said. “In our opinion, from the angle of good science diplomacy, expanding these programmes on a lasting basis is an absolute must.”

To contact Michael Gardner, e-mail