Letter to Dr. Robin Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences, inquiring into sponsorship of “Human Rights in Palestine” conference (July 7, 2013)

Dr. Robin Jackson
Chief Executive
British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Re: British Academy sponsorship of “Human Rights in Palestine” conference

Dear Dr. Jackson,

We are writing to you regarding a conference titled “Human Rights in Palestine,” scheduled for September 2013 at the Australian National University in Canberra. According to the conference website, the British Academy is a “Platinum Sponsor” for the event. Based on the list of confirmed speakers, it appears that the conference is biased and will not include rigorous debate and differing perspectives.

NGO Monitor ( is a Jerusalem-based research institute, and we are preparing a report on the conference program as currently publicized. We would appreciate your response to the following questions:

1) Is the British Academy indeed sponsoring this event?

2) If  so,

a) What is the cost of sponsorship?
b) Is the money going directly to the conference organizers, or is there an intermediary?

3) How will the British Academy ensure that the conference meets academic standards, including rigorous debate and differing perspectives, and does not become an opportunity for unjustifiable political attacks against Israel?

Thank you for your attention to these important issues.


Jody Sieradzki
Europe Desk, NGO Monitor

Dr. Robin Jackson’s response to NGO Monitor inquiry (July 8, 2013)

Dear Jody Sieradski, Naftali Balanson,

The British Academy, the national academy in the UK for the humanities and social sciences, provides funding to enable humanities and social science researchers to pursue research and dissemination.

In 2009 the Academy awarded a research grant, following peer review, to Dr Victoria Mason, who at that time was based in the Politics and International Relations Department at Lancaster University, to undertake research aimed at contributing a range of research based insights and perspectives on issues of economic, social and cultural rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, in order to encourage debate and understanding. This is an entirely legitimate topic of research.

The Academy’s funding to Dr Mason included a contribution towards the cost of dissemination of her research findings. You draw our attention to a conference at the ANA, at which the research is being disseminated, alongside the work of others.  The Academy is not organising that event, was not consulted on the programme and is not directly sponsoring the event itself. The text that appears on the conference website claiming that the British Academy is a ‘platinum sponsor’ for the event, is therefore misleading, and appeared without authorisation from us. The Academy has been assured by the organiser that the text will shortly be revised to clarify the relationship of the Academy’s funding to the event.  It will also explain that views expressed at the conference should not be taken to be those of the Academy itself.  This is not to pass any comment on those views, simply to note that they are not to be taken as the views of this Academy.

I hope that is helpful.

Best wishes
Dr. Robin Jackson
Chief Executive and Secretary
The British Academy