Occupation by students in solidarity with Palestine. A message from Rectrice Anne-Sophie Nyssen


Since the afternoon of Friday May 10, there has been a sit-in by students in solidarity with Palestine in the entrance hall and cafeteria of the University's Central Building.

Their main demands are: a reminder of ULiège's position on an unconditional ceasefire, a list of all collaborations with Israel, the publication of this list, and a total boycott of Israeli universities, which they consider to be complicit in the policies of Netanyahu's government.

We tolerate this sit-in inside the walls under certain conditions: non-violence, non-disruption of academic activities and respect for the infrastructure. To date, we welcome the fact that ULiège students have respected these conditions.

The University of Liège supports the demand for an immediate ceasefire.

  • As early as November 2, it condemned all forms of terrorism, and called for an end to violence against civilians, as well as their access to vital resources, healthcare and humanitarian aid. Despite international condemnation, and more recently the United States' distancing itself, the Israeli government persists in its strategy of disproportionate retaliation and destruction of Gaza, and refuses a ceasefire allowing access to healthcare, vital aid and humanitarian assistance. Read the article
  • December 18: ULiège joined the other universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in an inter-university motion by the Council of Rectors (CRef) to suspend institutional collaboration with organizations, whatever their origin, that repeatedly support or are directly involved in violations of international law and human rights. Read the article
  • March 12, 2024: the University of Liège condemned Israel's deliberate destruction of educational establishments and ongoing discrimination against students and colleagues, which constitute an infringement of the right to education, a fundamental right guaranteed by international conventions on Children's Rights and Human Rights". Read the article
  • On March 19, 2024, the CRef condemned the systematic attacks or destruction of Palestinian educational institutions, and in particular the Palestinian higher education system in Gaza. Read the article

Following these commitments, a screening of collaborations was initiated within the institution. This review revealed that the University of Liège is not involved in any institutional partnerships with Israel, nor does it intend to be in the current context.

On the other hand, the university is involved in multinational research agreements financed by the European Union, which in some cases include Israeli researchers. It is easy to understand that ULiège has neither the power to exclude these researchers on principle, nor the desire to withdraw on principle from these multi-partner agreements.

It is therefore not "on principle" but on the basis of a case-by-case analysis that we study the ethical conditions of our collaborations.

An in-depth analysis of research agreements is currently underway. It is carried out for each active and future agreement by an internal working group dedicated to this task within the university. We propose to include a student representative, chosen by the Fédé, in this working group.

As far as the publication of this list is concerned, apart from legal considerations, the University of Liège intends to preserve the autonomy, academic freedom and security of researchers, whatever their country of origin, especially as some of them are opposed to the policies of their governments. For these reasons, there can be no question of publishing this type of list.

On the other hand, the University confirms its commitment to suspend its collaboration with partners who collaborate in Israel's acts of war against the Gazan population, who openly support the Netanyahu government's policies, or who fail to respect international human rights. The University will make its analysis known to its European partners.

Students mentioned a specific project (COPAC, "Coherent Optical PArallel Computing") with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This agreement ends in 2021. As for the multinational "Human Brains" project, the research agreement also ended several years ago. We would like to remind you that a reinforced analysis of "dual use" aspects has since been put in place within the Institution. This should make it possible to avoid military detour of research work in which our researchers are involved.

We are living in extremely difficult and painful times, with situations of barbarism multiplying. Clearly, indifference is not the solution, and we need to get involved.

However, the violence of war cannot under any circumstances lead to violence on our campuses. I'm counting on you to make sure it does. Every member of the university community has the right to dignity and security. Our universities must remain a place of dialogue, tolerance and solidarity between peoples and cultures.

Furthermore, as a hospitable university, ULiège reiterates its commitment to being a place of welcome for students, researchers and academics, whatever their origin, who are fleeing war or whose country is threatening their lives.

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