Global Campus of Human Rights Magazine n 5 (December 2021)
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The Global Campus of Human Rights is not only an impressive network of 100 universities and more than 6,000 graduates of our seven regional Master programmes, training and e-learning activities, it is also an impressive network of outstanding human rights scholars and practitioners in all regions of the world. On 12 November 2021, our President Veronica Gomez, who coordinates the Latin American Master at the University of San Martin in Buenos Aires, was elected as one of seven judges of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. One of our Vice-Presidents, Frans Viljoen, Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Pretoria who heads up the African Master programme, was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on 11 October 2021. I most warmly congratulate my two colleagues and friends to these highly prestigious and well deserved expert functions in the international human rights community! As the world’s largest human rights network in human rights education, the Global Campus has a particular responsibility in providing future human rights defenders and change makers with excellent knowledge, skills and attitude that are necessary to make the world a better place to live in. However, our responsibility goes far beyond teaching and training. Thanks to our close cooperation with the Sakharov Laureates and Fellowship Programme of the European Parliament during the annual Venice School for Human Rights Defenders, to our partnership with the Right Livelihood and its prestigious “alternative Nobel Prize” Laureates, to our cooperation with the Aurora Prize for present day heroes and with similar initiatives, we support the courageous activities of those who defend human rights and democratic values on the front lines. Universities specialised in human rights also have a particular responsibility to defend academic freedom and the right to stand up for human rights and democracy in their own countries and beyond. At a time when these values are under attack in a growing number of countries, we feel the duty to assist scholars and students at risk of being expelled from their universities, persecuted for their intellectual activities or even arrested, tortured or killed. With the recent takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of Afghan human rights defenders, journalists, judges, scholars and students, mostly women and girls and those who worked in close collaboration with the international community, had and still have to fear for their lives. Hundreds of thousands were able to leave the country, o!en via chaotic evacuation operations, others are still desperately trying to flee their country. When we launched our initiative of providing a safe space for Afghan scholars and students at our universities around the world, we were overwhelmed by the positive response of an impressive number of professors and rectors, students and alumni, individual activists and relevant organisations, such as “Scholars at Risk”, World University Service or the International Association of Women Judges. We are most grateful to the spontaneous reaction of the European Commission (INTPA) of providing us with funds, which were recently doubled by Right Livelihood and supplemented by other donors, such as the Fondazione Venezia and the Kahane Foundation. With these funds and the voluntary work of many members and friends of our network, we are now able to provide Afghan scholars, students and their families with the possibility of finding a safe space for their studies, research or teaching at various universities of our global network. I sincerely hope that our Afghanistan project is only the beginning of a more ambitious programme to support scholars and students at risk in other countries as well.