5th April 2017
Mr. Zoltán Balog
Minister of Human Capacities
1054 Budapest, Akadémia utca 3.
Dear Minister Balog,
As the leading organization working on freedom of expression ARTICLE 19 respectfully urges the government of Hungary to review the legislative changes to the status of the Central European University in Budapest. The changes to the statute of the university risks not only endangering academic freedoms vital for CEU’s continued operation, but freedoms that enable all universities, including those in Hungary, to flourish.
As a valued member of the international academic community the decision to alter the statute enabling the CEU to operate in Hungary will if enacted, set a serious precedent that risks damaging the reputation of the country at a time when civic freedoms require robust protections.
The right to receive and impart information and ideas, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights includes the right to be free from governmental undue interference with the content of curriculum and operation of academic institutions. Any restriction on the operation of universities must be manifestly necessary for the promotion of a legitimate aim as defined by international freedom of expression standards and, as such, restrictions may not be imposed simply to silence those critical of the government.
In the last twenty-five years, the Central European University has established itself as a university with a global reputation for teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities, ranked in the top 50 in the world and attracting students from 117 countries. The University holds international accreditation and its programs are also certified by Hungarian authorities and fully compliant with local laws.
We respectfully urge the government to review the legislation and enter consultation with CEU, aware of the damage such legislation can do to not only to the country’s highly regarded academic reputation, but to the protection of freedom of expression worldwide.
Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
CC: Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary;
Office of the Prime Minister;
Central European University