Human rights and campus climate statement on Gaza and Israel

letters to the editor

We join human rights and civil society organizations across the globe in calling for the immediate, safe and sufficient provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the release of all hostages. We mourn all civilians harmed by the war between Israel and Hamas and join others in calling on the Israeli government and Hamas leadership to cease further actions that harm Palestinian and Israeli civilians. 

International humanitarian law (IHL) forbids the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attacks, the use of civilians as human shields and the imposition of collective punishment. IHL also demands the protection of medical personnel and civilian objects, including water installations and electricity — all of which have been targeted in the current war.

We join with our human rights partners and civil society organizations in the region and beyond in calling for humanitarian principles to guide all actions and the immediate cessation of all indiscriminate attacks and attacks that target civilians or employ disproportionate lethal force against them. 

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our campus remains a safe place for our community to discuss and learn without fear. Universities should be places where hard questions can be posed and debated. Any conflict with such ghastly human cost compels us to educate ourselves about the history, engage in civil discussion, help craft solutions and above all speak out to protect human life. On campus, we must listen to one another with sympathy and respect and speak out on behalf of our fellow human beings.

We affirm the right of all people to live safely, free from violence and oppression. We are steadfast in our support, empathy and care for members of our university and local communities who have suffered loss, are fearful or worry that they cannot freely voice their opinions or concerns. We must acknowledge the collective grief of so many members of our community. 

This letter was authored by James Chappel, Mona Hassan, Robin Kirk, Nancy MacLean, Rebecca Stein and Erika Weinthal, all of whom are faculty and part of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.


Catherine Admay, Public Policy 

Elizabeth A. Albright, Environmental Ethics & Sustainable Environmental Management

Edna Andrews, Linguistics 

Nina Balmaceda, President and CEO, Peace and Hope International

James Chappel, History

Saskia Cornes, Franklin Humanities Institute

Juliette G. Duara, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Mona Hassan, Religious Studies & History

Suzanne Katzenstein, Sanford School of Public Policy

Ranjana Khanna, Franklin Humanities Institute & English

Robin Kirk, co-chair, DHRC@FHI & Cultural Anthropology

Claudia Koonz, Professor Emeritus, History

Robert Korstad, Duke Institutional History Project, Public Policy & History

Nancy MacLean, History & Public Policy

Ellen McLarney, Asian and Middle East Studies

Liliana Paredes, Romance Studies

Gunther Peck, History & Public Policy

Adam Rosenblatt, International Comparative Studies

David Schaad, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist

Rebecca L. Stein, Cultural Anthropology

Priscilla Wald, English

Erika Weinthal, Co-chair, DHRC@FHI & Environmental Policy and Public Policy

Corin Zaragoza, Program Director, DHRC@FHI


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