The free and open exchange of ideas is paramount in the pursuit of advances in knowledge and understanding in all academic and scientific disciplines and is of vital importance to society as a whole. Academics must have the right to ask challenging questions, debate controversial ideas and express evidence-based opinions, wherever they live in the world, without fear of reprisals. In support of those rights, it is their responsibility to behave professionally, apply rigorous methodologies, uphold professional standards and comply with relevant codes of conduct.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, plays a particular role in supporting international research collaboration, upholding professional codes of conduct, and promoting those professional standards in the global academic and scientific community.

The RSE is a member of the UK Human Rights Committee, which seeks to support academics and scientists around the world who, on the basis of their professional work, are subjected to severe repression of the rights of freedom of thought and of freedom of speech to which they are entitled under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Through this Committee, the RSE makes active representation to Governments under which abuses of academic freedom are reported.

The RSE supports joint programmes with international partners. In the interests of upholding universal codes of conduct and international academic and scientific diplomacy, the RSE will include respect for academic freedom and human rights in all its strategic partnership programmes.

Approved by RSE Council 8 March 2022