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Academic freedom under siege
  1. Nancy S Jecker1,2,3,
  2. Marcel Verweij4,
  3. Vardit Ravitsky5,
  4. Tenzin Wangmo6,
  5. Mohammed Ghaly7
  1. 1Department of Bioethics & Humanities, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2African Centre for Epistomology and Philosophy of Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  3. 3Centre for Bioethics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
  4. 4Ethics Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  5. 5School of Public Health, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  6. 6Institute for Medical Ethics, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  7. 7Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nancy S Jecker, Department of Bioethics & Humanities, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA; nsjecker{at}


This paper describes a global pattern of declining academic freedom, often driven by powerful political interference with core functions of academic communities. It argues that countering threats to academic freedom requires doubling down on ethics, specifically standards of justice and fairness in pursuing knowledge and assigning warrant to beliefs. Using the example of the selection of a Qatari university to host the 2024 World Congress of Bioethics, the authors urge fairness towards diverse groups over time and efforts to counter injustices that conferences generate.

  • Cultural Diversity
  • Ethics
  • Internationality
  • Minority Groups
  • Politics

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  • Contributors Each author contributed substantially to the conception and analysis of the work; drafting or revising it critically; final approval of the version to be published and is accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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