No development without freedom
EADI Statement September 2017
Established in 1975, the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) has its Secretariat in Bonn. With over 150 institutional and many individual members from 28 countries it is the leading Europe-wide network in its field.
Development Studies is – like development – not a value-free exercise. “Leaving no one behind” as imperative for inclusive development had been coined as a slogan by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015 as Agenda 2030.
The agreed goals stress the universal dimension of rights as much as obligations. But only two years into Agenda 2030 we are already witnessing an increase in processes and practices of exclusion: for many years, a growing number of scholars have been rejected from entering fortress Europe to attend international conferences. They are thereby banned from engaging in dialogue despite meeting all of the strict criteria to temporarily enter Europe. They are continuously humiliated and reminded of the structurally rooted inequalities, injustices and asymmetries that govern our world.
But as the SDGs stress, we can meet the global challenges only through worldwide cooperation. This includes scholarly efforts to discuss development related matters collectively whilst recognising and including a range of perspectives and experiences. The growing restrictions on mobility are restricting such efforts. They limit not only the freedom of physical movement but also the freedom of speech and thought. While EU member states claim to be a value-based association we are also witnessing a growing erosion of fundamental rights and values within Europe, limiting further the capacity to diagnose, discuss and address global problems with scholars from outside of Europe.
While being a European Association, EADI does not adopt a restricted and narrow-minded perspective on development, which is a local as much as a shared global challenge. This requires open minded exchanges and intellectual cross-fertilization. Both need unlimited exposure to all forms of knowledge able to contribute to solving the massive problems our world is confronted with. Assessments and problem-solving efforts rely on interaction based on mutual respect and recognition. We need to listen and learn as much as to talk and teach.
EADI members and institutions herewith express their concern about the increasing restrictions imposed on scholars and the academic freedom as well as the freedom of speech in many countries, including within Europe. We are shocked to witness the prosecution of those who practice democracy as an integral and substantial part of good governance and civil rights. We will explore how best we can support those who as scholars are the victims of undemocratic, authoritarian rule and are prosecuted because of their democratic engagement. We appeal to governments and academic institutions alike to provide space and shelter for scholars in need. EADI member institutions are encouraged to collaborate in the efforts to accommodate those who are robbed of the means to continue their work.
Sustainable development, as advocated by the 17 SDGs in Agenda 2030, requires the promotion of dignity and security for all people on our planet. It demands empathy and solidarity with those victimized by increasingly repressive populist regimes as well as other ideologically obsessed governments and groups promoting xenophobia and other forms of discrimination and exclusion. In contrast, EADI will – also in the spirit of SDG 17 (“revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development”) - continue to protect and promote the freedoms we need as a prerequisite to fully engage with and address the developmental challenges in the only world we have.