Russian hostilities in the Ukraine

MCO second statement

The Governing Council of the Magna Charta Observatory (MCO) was most concerned to learn that the Russian Union of Rectors (RUR) had issued a statement on 5 March stating their support for the decision of President Putin to take military action in Ukraine.

This statement is in opposition to the letter signed by over 15,000 Russian scientists and scientific journalists on 24 February and other activities opposing the military action.

Seventeen universities in Russia have signed the Magna Charta Universitatum which commits them to ensuring, among other things, that their ‘research and teaching must be morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power’. The Magna Charta Universitatum says unequivocally that ‘the university is an autonomous institution.’ Nine of these universities are listed as signatories of the RUR statement.

While appreciating the complexity of the situation which rectors face, the MCO Governing Council views the support expressed by its signatory universities for the military action as incompatible with the pledges that they made by signing the Magna Charta Universitatum and has decided to temporarily suspend the eligibility of those universities which have signed the statement to participate in all MCO activities. At such time as the Rectors of the Russian universities that have signed both the RUR letter and the MCU pledge to listen to their academic communities and respond accordingly, the MCO will be pleased to review this decision in respect of their university.

Furthermore, the MCO will not allow any additional universities from Russia which have signed the RUR statement to sign the Magna Charta Universitatum until such time as it is clear that they are able to operate in accordance with it. Neither will it accept any financial donations from Russian universities in support of its work.

The MCO has previously issued a statement of solidarity with the universities in Ukraine. It now confirms that statement of solidarity. It urged other universities which have signed the Magna Charta Universitatum to afford such assistance as they are able to the universities in Ukraine and staff and students belonging to them. It is gratified to learn that some signatory universities have indeed provided assistance and urges others to do so, as they are able.

Issued by the Governing Council of the

Magna Charta Observatory

24 March 2022