Recap: First Conference about Academic Freedom in the Americas

Posted December 15, 2022


[Photo Credits: Fernando Gerardo Zapata González]

The First Conference about Academic Freedom in the Americas, organized by Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), was held November 10 – 11, at the University of Monterrey, Mexico. The conference featured panels on academic freedom concerns in the region, notably in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. Other discussions included the effects of gender violence on higher education communities, and the impact of censorship and legislative interference on the higher education sector.

Panelists addressed responses to these concerns, including how to implement the Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy. Pedro Vaca Villareal, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, encouraged use of these principles across the region: “The Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy do not just address the past and hold people accountable; they are also a preventative instrument.”

The conference served as the global launch of Scholars at Risk’s Free to Think 2022 report, which analyzes 391 attacks in 65 countries and territories around the world. SAR Advocacy Director Clare Robinson presented the report, emphasizing the need for a collective response to attacks: “If we value the advancement of knowledge, we must act to protect academic freedom.”

Conference participants discussed ways to address attacks and improve academic freedom conditions in the region, including by conducting research, publishing articles, making legal submissions, and gathering again at the second CAFA conference in 2023, for which planning is already underway. As was said by SAR’s Executive Director Rob Quinn at the conference, “the fight for academic freedom is the fight for the future.” SAR looks forward to working with our partners in the Americas to continue that fight.

Additional information:

  • Video recordings of the conference are now available! Access them here:
    November 10 and November 11.
  • CAFA–a coalition led by University of Monterrey, Mexico; University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Canada; and Scholars at Risk–aims to increase awareness and advocacy in defense of academic freedom across the Americas. For more information about CAFA, please visit the coalition’s website.