BISA Public Statement regarding the situation for Academics in Turkey

Dear BISA members

Happy new year. The Board of Trustees has lent BISA’s full support to a joint public statement released yesterday by a number of professional associations in international studies, seeking to raise their voices against the situation faced by academic colleagues in Turkey and threats to their academic freedom. This statement is provided below. Collectively the Associations would like to seek as wide a dissemination of the public statement as possible, and to this end would invite you to consider disseminating among your networks as you feel appropriate. We would also like to invite our Working Group convenors to consider distributing to their members by e-mail or through social media. If you feel inclined to do so, we appreciate your help in the effort to raise the profile of this issue.

Best wishes

Nicola Phillips

Chair of BISA, on behalf of the Board of Trustees

Public Statement of the Presidents and Chairs of Professional Associations on  “International Studies”  regarding the Persecution of Academics in Turkey
18 January 2016 (as amended as of 22 January 2016)
As leaders of associations that represent academics and analysts of international studies, we are deeply concerned about the reaction of the Turkish government and police to the public statement signed by Turkish and international academics on the situation in Southeastern Turkey last week. While we condemn any form of political violence, we insist that academics must have the right to express their political views freely and without having to fear for their jobs or personal freedom.
We call upon the Turkish authorities to stop the persecution of our colleagues and ask university administrations to respect the right to free speech and academic freedom. Turkey is an important partner in our joint efforts to better understand how “a more peaceful, more socially inclusive world” can be realized – a key aim of the “Alliance of Civilizations” which President Erdogan has co-sponsored. Free academic debate is an essential prerequisite to foster such understanding. We hope that it can continue to flourish in Turkish universities as well. 
Professor Gunther Hellmann 
Executive Secretary, World International Studies Committee (WISC) 
Professor Thomas Diez 
President, European International Studies Association (EISA) 
Professor Paul Diehl 
President, International Studies Association (ISA) 
Professor Stefano Guzzini 
President, Central and East European Studies Association (CEEISA)
Professor Nicola Phillips 
Chair, British International Studies Association (BISA) 
Professor Tuomas Forsberg 
Chair, Nordic International Studies Association (NISA) 
Professor Stephan Stetter 
Chair, IR Section, German Political Science Association
Professor Rafael Velázquez  
President, Mexican International Studies Association (MISA) 
Dr Alberto Sepúlveda Almarza 
President, Asociación Chilene de Especialistas Interacionales (ACHEI) 
Professor Arlene B. Tickner 
President, Corporación Red Colombiana de Relaciones Internacionales (REDINTERCOL) 
Professor Ben J Muller 
President, International Studies Association-Canada 
Professor Fulvio Attiná and Professor Vittorio Emanuele Parsi 
Co-Chairs, Standing Group of International Relations, Italian Political Science 
Association (SGRI/SISP) 

Future of Research Councils - Nurse Review Published

The review for the UK's research councils, led by Sir Paul Nurse published on 19th November, comes ahead of the government’s spending review on 25th November.
The report recognises the current UK research funding system as key to delivering one of the most effective research communities in the world. The evidence given as part of the review highlights the Research Councils’ reputation for effectively supporting and promoting research excellence for the benefit of society and the economy.
The report recommends bringing the research councils closer together under a new and stronger body, Research UK, whose head would be in charge of all seven councils.
The review does however leave unanswered important questions about the possible future arrangements of the research councils within the new body Research UK. A primary concern is, it is still not clear how funds will be allocated within Research UK and via the dual support system going forwards.
Responding to the review, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: "Our research base is world-class and this government is committed to ensuring its continued success. I welcome this independent report and would like to thank Sir Paul for providing his expertise and insight." Source: BIS website 19th November 2015

Joint Committee on Human Rights: Legislative Scrutiny

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has decided to continue the previous Committee’s practice of scrutinising every Government Bill for its compatibility with human rights.
Joint Committee on Human Rights
This is including common law fundamental rights and liberties, the Convention rights protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the human rights contained in other international obligations assumed by the UK such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

UK must increase science funding to keep up with competitors

The UK is falling behind its competitors in research and development (R&D) investment and the Government will be putting competitiveness, productivity and jobs at risk if it does not set out a clear roadmap to increase science funding in the Spending Review, the cross-party Science & Technology Committee is warning in their report published 9th November 2015. 

Green Paper on the Future of Higher Education Published

Published on 6th November 2015, the green paper "Fulfilling Our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice" outlines government proposals addressing the future of higher education. 

Consultation on the proposals will run for 10 weeks, closing on 15 January 2016.

Consultation on GCSE and A level reform

Published on 3rd November 2015,  the Department for Education and Ofqual issue two consultations on the reform of subject content  and the assessment for new GCSEs and A levels which will be taught from 2017, including AS and A Level Politics. The continued inclusion of Global Politics is key to students continuing on to further their International Studies knowledge at degree level. The reform of subject content is part of the wider reform currently being undertaken for GCSEs and A level subjects.

Joint Committee on Human Rights: Inquiry into the use of Drones

UK Government's policy on the use of drones for targeted killing inquiry.
The Government has not published any formulated policy on the use of drones for targeted killing.  As a result there is a lack of clarity about the policy; about whether and how the legal frameworks of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and ordinary criminal law apply; and about the relevant legal tests and principles that apply to the use of lethal force in such circumstances. 
It is not clear how the relevant decision-makers test the sufficiency of evidence, who checks that the tests are satisfied, and what the framework of accountability is.  The uncertainty not only makes accountability difficult, it potentially exposes front line personnel to criminal liability for the unlawful use of lethal force.

Update - Dept of Politics University of Surrey

BISA congratulates the University of Surrey's Department of Politics on the very welcome news that its future has been secured. The Department will continue to exist as a discrete unit, with a staff of ten, and there will be no compulsory redundancies. All of its undergraduate and postgraduate provision will remain intact. BISA extends its good wishes and full support to the Department in the next phase of its development.

Professor Nicola Phillips, University of Sheffield, BISA Chair

Department of Politics at the University of Surrey

BISA’s officers have been communicating with colleagues at the University of Surrey and making representations to its senior management following the news that restructuring at the University has placed politics and international relations staff at risk of redundancy.  BISA will continue to liaise with its members in the Department to offer ongoing support and assistance.

Chair's message

I’ve been reminded frequently over recent months that, in the International Studies community in the UK, one of the ways we seem to measure our age is in BISA conferences. As BISA celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, recollections abound about panels, discussions and memorable spectacles (of, ahem, varying kinds) in its conference history, reminding us of the place that BISA has occupied in the profession for the last four decades. I am especially privileged and honoured to take over the role of chairing BISA at this moment in its history, and look forward to the next two years of working with our Vice-Chair, Professor Richard Whitman, our CEO, Gail Birkett, and the rest of the team of Officers and Trustees of BISA. 
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