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Fwd: [IFLA-L] WLIC 2024 main issue

  • 1.  Fwd: [IFLA-L] WLIC 2024 main issue

    Posted Jul 09, 2023 01:54 PM

    Jim Neal
    University Librarian Emeritus 
    Columbia University
    ALA President 2017-18
    ALA Honorary Member

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: ifla lgbtq <>
    Date: July 9, 2023 at 2:44:36 PM EDT
    Subject: [IFLA-L] WLIC 2024 main issue
    Reply-To: ifla lgbtq <>

    Dear colleagues,

    IFLA Governing Board has just proposed an advisory referendum, as article 13 of the IFLA status entitles it to do. In support of this proposal, it has also submitted a document presenting the elements pro and against the maintenance of the 2024 conference in Dubai.

    Numerous arguments are offered in either direction, but, above all, this document acknowledges that censorship has been specifically imposed on the conference on LGBTQ+ issues throughout the UAE, where also all satellites are to be organised.

    This is the heart of the problem.

    Everyone has agreed that a Congress outside of Europe or North America would be a great asset for the profession. And as has been recalled in previous exchanges on the list, it is not so much a question of regretting that LGBTQ+ colleagues cannot travel. The question of security is certainly a shame in itself but does not prevent remote participation in the congress as was the case in 2018 in Kuala Lumpur as recalled in the document. But this limitation on freedom of expression is unacceptable to an international organization like IFLA, which places freedom of expression and information at the heart of its work.

    To the best of our knowledge, this would be the first time that a case of censorship has emerged for the organization of a congress, and accepting this fact would set a dangerous precedent, damaging the organization's credibility.

    The criteria for choosing conference venues will probably have to be rediscussed and re-evaluated in the near future, but it's clear that respect for freedom of expression will be one of them.

    In the medium term, the financial arguments also appear problematic. While we can appreciate that IFLA, like any organization, is seeking to diversify its sources of funding, we can also legitimately worry about a rise in funding from Regions that have not shown sufficient openness to accept the holding of a conference on subjects far removed from their own, and, by extension, fear further exclusions or restrictions on freedom of information in exchange for funding in the future.

    The last paragraph, in this sense, is problematic, explaining fundamentally that basing one's action on values can prove problematic for financing one's action. Validating this position opens the door to all kinds of compromises.


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