UK violates UN rules

June 1, 2007

The debt of thanks, which your editorial says universities owe to Tony Blair (Leader, May 18), will be questioned by a United Nations human rights body. Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, to which the UK is bound, obliges the UK to make higher education, "equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education". The English language cannot be spun to such an extent that progressively free means regressively charged.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has already warned the UK that it is violating international law by its fee policy, unless there was a significant increase in students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This has not happened.

It is not only in relation to Iraq that international law has been flouted by the UK.

Geraldine Van Bueren
Queen Mary, University of London

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