Call for Boycott of International Political Science Association’s (IPSA) 24th World Congress


We, the academics and researchers who were scheduled to participate in International Political Science Association’s (IPSA) 24th World Congress in July 2016, hereby declare our decision to boycott the congress. We call on the international academic community to join our boycott to protest IPSA’s unwillingness to take a firm and unambiguous position against the Turkish state authorities’ unacceptable violation of the right of expression of the Academics for Peace.

What led to the Boycott Decision?

After the release of the “We will not be party to this crime” petition launched by the Academics for Peace initiative on 10 January 2016, Turkish state authorities and pro-government media outlets have explicitly targeted the signatories. A witch-hunt was started, resulting in administrative investigations against 508 of our colleagues and legal investigations against 1128, suspension of 27, termination of 40, and threatening of 47. During all this time, the Academics for Peace received vigorous support messages of solidarity from numerous scientists, academic organizations, and institutions around the world, condemning strongly the arbitrary and unjust treatment of the signatories in Turkey.

IPSA’s official position on the issue has been a source of true disappointment, however. In a statement in January 16th, President Tanaka expressed his “belief’ in the signatories’ “right to express their viewpoints peacefully without being subject to administrative or legal sanctions”, yet refrained from candidly condemning the repression faced by the very signatories when they chose to use this right. When contacted on January 19th, with a letter signed by more than 200 academics from all around the world, to inquire about its willingness to openly condemn the repression, and the possibility of moving the congress to an alternative location to be solidarity with colleagues in Turkey, IPSA’s response was simply referring to its earlier official statement.

Turning a blind eye to the Turkish government’s intensifying criminalization of academics for using their right of expression, IPSA’s adherence to a carefully measured diplomatic language in that statement, that it “does not engage in the internal politics of nations,” and that it “hopes that the Turkish government will ensure that academic freedom and freedom of speech prevail in the country,” has unfortunately not changed to date.

More recently, the IPSA Executive Committee has declared its decision to move the congress from Istanbul because “they cannot guarantee the safety of all participants and provide an environment favorable to the exchange of intellectual ideas.” We find it unlikely that decision-makers of a political science organization would fail to identify the connections between the critical issues raised by the “We will not be a party to this crime” petition and the increased environment of insecurity that led them to relocate its congress from Istanbul. That IPSA did not explicitly cite the ongoing persecution and prosecution of colleagues as a reason for relocating the congress only deepened our disappointment about IPSA’s failure to take a strong position in solidarity with the Academics for Peace.

Why Boycott?

We find IPSA’s refusal to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to its colleagues facing persecution in Turkey unacceptable. Far from being an opportunity to solicit support for academic freedom and political expression, participating the conference, in our view, would be a sign of exonerating IPSA from failing to be in sincere solidarity with the academics in Turkey. We refuse to be a party in absolving IPSA of not taking a principled stance in the current situation, and thereforecall on all participants to boycott the 2016 Congress.

Should you decide to join the boycott, please send us your full name, affiliation and the name of the panel you are withdrawing from at before 13 April 2016. The names of the participants who withdraw from the congress will be mailed to the IPSA secretariat on this date.