Time: 12:30 - 2:30pm
Venue: Room 313, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
The next seminar in the State Crime Seminar Series will be delivered by Professor Oren Ben-Dor and will discuss 'Freedom of Speech and Security in Academic Space: a conceptual exploration and further reflections'. The seminar is organised by the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI). Prior to the event a light lunch will be provided for all attendees from 12pm.
Professor Ben-Dor was of the academic co-organisers of two conferences – one in 2015 and one in 2016 - on Israel and International Law at the University of Southampton, both of which challenged and later cancelled. The first conference entitled 'International Law and the State of Israel' was cancelled by the University of Southampton due to 'security concerns', following intervention from the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Caroline Noakes, MP for Romsey and Southampton as well as other organisations challenging the conference. The second conference in 2016 entitled ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism' required organisers to pay £24,000 to cover policing and security for the conference. This resulted in the organisers challenging the University of Southampton in the High Court to protect their academic freedom, which also acted as a test case. The case was lost on the grounds of there being ‘no large principle at stake here'.
Professor Ben-Dor's paper will explore the current provisions for the protection of freedom of speech in academic space, using the cancellation of the Israel conference by the University of Southampton as a context. It develops an argument about the poverty of the current legal test. The paper dwells on the nature and fragility of freedom of speech and the importance of academia as the custodian of the public good that protects it. It also supplements the exploration by some comments on the state of corporate academia more generally.
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