Screenshot of the website of the Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre.

VU Amsterdam human rights centre suspends operations

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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. The centre is directed by Tom Zwart, who is also a professor at UU. 

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Last week, public broadcaster NOS reported that the human rights centre is being sponsored by a Chinese university, which led many to question the independence of the research centre, considering 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 reported on Friday. 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 in them will be able to take the subject later, otherwise an alternative will be sought.

The centre has temporarily taken its website offline. In a statement, it says it believes in the universality of human rights, which is “pre-eminently the area where inclusiveness and diversity are important.” The research centre 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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