VU Amsterdam human rights centre suspends operations

The Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre at VU Amsterdam has suspended its operations. An investigation is being made into whether the independence of the centre has been compromised by funding from China.

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Last week the NOS news organisation reported that the human rights centre is being sponsored by a Chinese university. That led to debate about the independence of the Amsterdam centre, because universities in China have close ties to the political regime. VU Amsterdam announced an investigation into the independence of the centre and, in anticipation, is sending the grant back to China.

No lectures

The human rights centre is temporarily suspending all its operations, NOS and university newspaper Ad Valvas report today. That also means that lectures which were part of a VU Amsterdam honours programme will not go ahead. A spokesperson for the university explained that the eleven students taking part will take the subject later or that an alternative will be sought.

The centre has temporarily taken its website offline. The centre says in a statement that it believes in the universality of human rights and that this is “pre-eminently the area where inclusiveness and diversity are important.” It concluded that not all publications on the website were compatible with this vision. “This is reason enough to examine the website more closely.”

VU Amsterdam wants to wait for the outcome of the investigation into the independence of the centre. It is not yet known when it will be completed.

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