The Norwegian Library Association (NLA) is disappointed that the Governing Board of IFLA has chosen Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, as the host of the World Library and Information Congress for 2024.
The United Arab Emirates have a bad record on upholding human rights, concerning free speech in general and especially the civil rights and equality for women, LGBT+, and different minority groups.
We see from the statements from IFLA that there is a concern that somebody feels the organization as Eurocentric. That is indeed a great concern for NLA as well, but we still think that the documented ongoing breaches of the human rights in the UAE should lead the Governing Board to select another WLIC host.
NLA certainly acknowledge and support that IFLA have members and activities in countries with a bad track record on human rights. However, a minimum demand for the WLIC should be that members and representatives may come and share their thoughts and opinions without being threatened by persecution from the government.
NLA will not encourage our members to participate in WLIC 2024 unless there are public statements from the government of the UAE that free speech and civil rights regarding women, LGBT+, and minority groups will be respected.
Oslo, 23rd of June 2023
Mr. Vidar Lund
President of the Norwegian Library Association
Member of the IFLA Standing Committee for Management of Library Associations Section.