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Procedure for Requesting CAUT Protest of Infringement of Academic Freedom in Foreign Countries

From time to time CAUT receives requests from members and others that it protest alleged, specific infringements of academic freedom in foreign countries. The requests may be generated as the result of incidents involving one or more faculty members or students in particular post-secondary institutions in a foreign country or they may be generated by more general situations in which autonomy or academic freedom is under threat in entire post-secondary systems in those countries.

Many of the incidents involving faculty members and students in foreign countries which come to the attention of CAUT involve infringement of basic human rights and civil liberties that are the foundations on which academic freedom rests.  Members of the academic community may be arrested, imprisoned without trial, tortured or killed.

When local associations or individual members become aware of incidents of denial of academic freedom or infringement of institutional autonomy or other matters affecting the academic community in a foreign country that warrant CAUT intervention, they should provide the Executive Director with a summary of the matter together with an indication of the source and reliability of the information provided. The submission should explain why the matter is of concern to the Canadian academic community and suggest what action CAUT should take.

CAUT may also be advised about incidents which cannot be dealt with adequately by the national teachers’ organization or academic community in the country concerned or matters in which protest by members of the international academic community including CAUT can be expected to have some influence.

CAUT does not have the resources to investigate such incidents. It relies on the information gathering and analysis skills of Education International, other NGO’s and advice from national post-secondary institution teachers’ organizations.

Where time allows, the Executive Director will place the request before the Executive Committee for its consideration. That Committee may request additional information about the matter, or it may seek the advice of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee or local and provincial associations.

The Executive Committee will, thereafter, draw the request to the attention of Council, together with appropriate documentation and a recommendation on what action, if any, should be taken. The Executive Committee will be responsible for ensuring that the decision of Council is implemented. Possible action by CAUT could include publicity in the CAUT Bulletin, endorsement of actions by other groups, or direct protest to governments or organizations in foreign countries.

In the event that requests received by CAUT for support for victims of flagrant violations of academic rights and freedoms and when, in the judgement of the President of CAUT, and following consultation with the Executive Director and with whomever else seems advisable and proves possible, a quick response is indicated, the Council authorizes the President to respond on behalf of CAUT and to advise the Executive Committee and the Council at their next meetings of his/her actions.
Adopted as a rule of procedure by Council, September 1988;
revisions by the CAUT Executive Committee,
approved by Council, April 1999;
reviewed and updated by the CAUT Executive Committee,
February  2009.