The importance of academic freedom in times of disinformation

Multiple Speakers, UNU-MERIT & UNESCO

** This event will be held in Spanish **

Academic freedom has never been more critical. The International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights urges States to “respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity”. In addition, the Charter of the United Nations University reaffirms its importance and considers academic freedom as an essential component of teaching and research.

A highly developed university educational system cannot be conceived without academic freedom. Most countries and educational systems recognise its existence and maximum relevance and express the need to promote it. The ultimate goal, in addition to the individual interest of the researcher, is the promotion of the welfare of the entire society. However, this freedom is still far from being fully guaranteed, and those interested in the fundamental values of the University must always be vigilant. In addition, globalisation requires adopting an open and international perspective.

Academic freedom is part of the fundamental right to maintain strong democracies, as recognised in the EHEA Rome Ministerial Communiqué in 2020. High-quality, independent research can serve as a solid foundation for public decision making, social and economic development, and democracy.

The quality and reliability of the information and knowledge offered by university researchers have become highly relevant for an open debate on public policies and other issues of great relevance to society. However, the current context is characterised by the instantaneous and massive transmission of vast flows of information, often falsified, through social networks and others, which represent a new challenge to academic freedom. Such disinformation has distorted debate, spread hate and polarised opinion. The spread of false information about climate change is a clear example of this. Instead, the consensus in society should be based on solid facts and evidence rather than opinions.

UNU-MERIT and UNESCO in Montevideo are convening a high-level debate on the importance of academic freedom in the new international context. This hour-long virtual discussion will discuss the state of academic freedom and what the UN system, national governments and the academic community can do to protect it.

About the speaker

Moderator: Prof. Dr. Carlo Pietrobelli, UNU-MERIT


  • Dr. Francisco Sagasti, former President of Peru
  • Prof. Gabriela Dutrenit, Member of UNU-MERIT's Board 
  • Guillermo Anllo, Programme Specialist, UNESCO

Date: 18 February 2022

Time: 20:00 - 21:00ย ย CET