The Lima Declaration on Academic Freedom and Autonomy of Institutions of Higher Education
The Sixty-Eighth General Assembly of WORLD UNIVERSITY SERVICE, meeting
in Lima from 6 to 10 September 1988, the year of the 40th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Bearing in mind the extensive set of international standards in the
field of human rights which the United Nations and other universal and
regional organisations have established, in particular the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, and the UNESCO convention against Discrimination in
Convinced that the universities and academic communities have an
obligation to pursue the fulfillment of economic, social, cultural,
civil and political rights of the people,
Emphasising the importance of the right to education for the enjoyment
of all other human rights and the development of human persons and
Considering that the right to education can only be fully enjoyed in
an atmosphere of academic freedom and autonomy of institutions of
Recognising the essential vulnerability of the academic community to
political and economic pressures,
Affirming the following principles pertaining to education:
a) Every human being has the right to education.
b) Education shall be directed to the full development of the
human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall
strengthen respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms
and peace. Education shall enable all persons to participate
effectively in the construction of a free and egalitarian
society, and promote understanding, tolerance and friendship
among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups.
Education shall promote mutual understanding respect and
equality between men and women. Education shall be a means to
understand and contribute to the achievement of the major goals
of contemporary society such as social equality, peace, equal
development of all nations and the protection of the environment.
c) Every State should guarantee the right to education without
discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, economic condition, birth or other status. Every State
should make available an adequate proportion of its national
income to ensure in practice the full realisation of the right
d) Education shall be an instrument of positive social change. As
such, it should be relevant to the social, economic, political
and cultural situation of any given country, contribute to the
transformation of the status quo towards the full attainment of
all rights and freedoms, and be subject to permanent
Proclaims this Declaration:
1. For the purposes of this Declaration
a) 'Academic freedom' means the freedom of members of the academic
community, individually or collectively, in the pursuit,
development and transmission of knowledge, through research,
study, discussion, documentation, production, creation,
teaching, lecturing and writing.
b) 'Academic community' covers all those persons teaching,
studying, researching and working at an institution of higher
c) 'Autonomy' means the independence of institutions of higher
education from the State and all other forces of society, to
make decisions regarding its internal government, finance,
administration, and to establish its policies of education,
research, extension work and other related activities.
d) 'Institutions of higher education' comprise universities, other
centers of post-secondary education and centers of research and
culture associated with them.
2. The above mentioned definitions do not imply that the exercise of
academic freedom and autonomy is not subject to limitations as
established in the present Declaration.
3. Academic freedom is an essential pre-condition for those education,
research, administrative and service functions with which universities
and other institutions of higher education are entrusted. All members
of the academic community have the right to fulfill their functions
without discrimination of any kind and without fear of interference or
repression from the State or any other source.
4. States are under an obligation to respect and to ensure to all
members of the academic community, those civil, political, economic,
social and cultural rights recognised in the United Nations Covenants on
Human Rights. Every member of the academic community shall enjoy,
in particular, freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression,
assembly and association as well as the right to liberty and security
of person and liberty of movement.
5. Access to the academic community shall be equal for all members of
society without any hindrance. On the basis of ability, every person
has the right, without discrimination of any kind, to become part of
the academic community, as a student teacher, researcher, worker or
administrator. Temporary measures aimed at accelerating de facto
equality for disadvantaged members of the academic community shall not
be considered as discriminatory, provided that these measures are
discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and
treatment have been achieved. All States and institutions of higher
education shall guarantee a system of stable and secure employment for
teachers and researchers. No member of the academic community shall be
dismissed without a fair hearing before a democratically elected body
of the academic community.
6. All members of the academic community with research functions have
the right to carry out research work without any interference, subject
to the universal principles and methods of scientific enquiry. They
also have the right to communicate the conclusions of their research
freely to others and to publish them without censorship.
7. All members of the academic community with teaching functions have
the right to teach without any interference, subject to the accepted
principles, standards and methods of teaching.
8. All members of the academic community shall enjoy the freedom to
maintain contact with their counterparts in any part of the world as
well as the freedom to pursue the development of their educational
9. All students of higher education shall enjoy freedom of study,
including the right to choose the field of study from available
courses and the right to receive official recognition of the knowledge
and experience acquired. Institutions of higher education should aim
to satisfy the professional needs and aspirations of the students.
States should provide adequate resources for students in need to
pursue their studies.
10. All institutions of higher education shall guarantee the
participation of students in their governing bodies, individually or
collectively, to express opinions on any national and international
11. States should take all appropriate measures to plan, organise and
implement a higher education system without fees for all secondary
education graduates and other people who might prove their ability to
study effectively at that level.
12. All members of the academic community have the right to freedom of
association with others, including the right to form and join trade
unions for the protection of their interests. The unions of all
sectors of the academic communities should participate in the
formulation of their respective professional standards.
13. The exercise of the rights provided above carries with it special
duties and responsibilities and may be subject to certain restrictions
necessary for the protection of the rights of others. Teaching and
research shall be conducted in full accordance with professional
standards and shall respond to contemporary problems facing society.
Autonomy of Institutions of Higher Education
14. All institutions of higher education shall pursue the fulfillment
of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights of the
people and shall strive to prevent the misuse of science and
technology to the detriment of those rights.
15. All institutions of higher education shall address themselves to
the contemporary problems facing society. To this end, the curricula
of these institutions, as well as their activities shall respond to
the needs of society at large. Institutions of higher education should
be critical of conditions of political repression and violations of
human rights within their own society.
16. All institutions of higher education shall provide solidarity to
other such institutions and individual members of their academic
communities when they are subject to persecution. Such solidarity may
be moral or material, and should include refuge and employment or
education for victims of persecution.
17. All institutions of higher education should strive to prevent
scientific and technological dependence and to promote equal
partnership of all academic communities of the world in the pursuit
and use of knowledge. They should encourage international academic
cooperation which transcends regional, political and other barriers.
18. The proper enjoyment of academic freedom and the compliance with
the responsibilities mentioned in the foregoing articles demand a high
degree of autonomy of institutions of higher education. States are
under an obligation not to interfere with the autonomy of institutions
of higher education as well as to prevent interference by other forces
19. The autonomy of institutions of higher education shall be
exercised by democratic means of self-government, which includes the
active participation of all members of the respective academic
communities. All members of the academic community shall have the
right and opportunity, without discrimination of any kind, to take
part in the conduct of academic and administrative affairs. All
governing bodies of institutions of higher education shall be freely
elected and shall comprise members of the different sectors of the
academic community. The autonomy should encompass decisions regarding
administration and determination of policies of education, research,
extension work, allocation of resources and other related activities.