The situation in Gaza and the role of universities

The Council of the Law Faculty at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) decided by consensus to halt the execution of a cooperation agreement with Bar-Ilan University (Israel).

The Antwerp/Bar-Ilan university cooperation agreement aims at promoting academic exchange and entrusted the Faculty of Law with its execution.

The Law Faculty Council based its detailed decision on a three-step reasoning. Independent United Nations assessments established multiple violations of international humanitarian law by the Israeli defence forces in Gaza. Secondly, the highest authorities at Bar-Ilan University expressed unwavering support for the military action. Thirdly, the Law Faculty in Antwerp had the responsibility to desist from promoting institutional cooperation with Bar-Ilan University in these circumstances with a view to upholding the respect of international law.

The Faculty has requested the Vice-Rector for International Relations, the signatory to the cooperation agreement, to terminate the agreement. The Faculty of Law’s decision applies solely to Bar-Ilan university. The Faculty of Law has no cooperation with other Israeli universities.

The decision followed a series of events organized by the Faculty during which information was shared and views were exchanged on the basis of ongoing research on the international legal obligations of both parties engaged in the conflict, independent reports on the conditions of life in Gaza, the rights of children, the human rights responsibilities of private actors including universities and the extraterritorial obligations of States not directly involved in hostilities.  The Law and Development Research Group was pleased to facilitate the educational and dialogical space for these discussions during the last months.

The Executive Committee of the Law and Development Research Group welcomes the consensus decision of the Faculty Council. We will continue to apply our expertise in international law and human rights to the conflict, in particular regarding the various current proceedings at the International Court of Justice.