This study examines the relationship between institutional autonomy and the security of higher education institutions from violent and coercive attacks. The paper includes a review of the limited literature available, as well as a series of examples illustrating different forms of attacks. These include arrests related to classroom content in Zimbabwe, sectarian divisions in Iraq, impunity for murders of academics in Pakistan, and physical intimidation on campuses in Tunisia. The study suggests that institutional autonomy plays a direct and indirect protective function. It directly helps protect systems of higher education from government interference, making it more difficult for states to act as perpetrators. It also indirectly helps preserve higher education against actual and perceived politicization and ideological manipulation, which in turn might help insulate it from attacks by nonstate parties. The study suggests a framework for examining questions of autonomy and security which in turn suggests a need to develop strategies aimed at increasing autonomy and security simultaneously. This necessarily requires approaches aimed at encouraging states to fulfill their obligations not to engage in or to be complicit in attacks (negative obligations) and obligations to protect higher education from attack and to deter future attacks by holding perpetrators accountable (positive obligations). The study concludes with brief recommendations on how different stakeholders might work to encourage greater understanding and implementation of these obligations, including further research, expert roundtables and information-sharing, development of guidelines and related advocacy campaigns.

This issue of the INTERIGHTS Bulletin focuses on litigating the right to education in Africa. It includes the following articles:

Litigating the Right to Education: Editorial
Solomon Sacco and Susie Talbot

Africa and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Malcolm Langford and Rebecca Brown

Litigating the Right to Universal Primary Education: Challenges and Prospects
Iain Byrne

Toward Recognition of the Right to Free Education in Colombia
Esteban Hoyos-Ceballos and Camilo Castillo-Sánchez

Expropriation as a Means to Protect the Right to Basic Education: The Case of a Farm School on Private Property Facing Eviction
Dmitri Holtzman

Lessons from Litigating Universal Primary Education in Swaziland
Ruchi Parekh

Developing a Litigation Strategy Regarding Non-Fee Barriers to Equal Access to Free and Compulsory Education for Children in Kenya
Hellen Mutellah

Litigating the Expulsion of Pregnant Girls
Solomon Sacco

Tactics to Secure the Right to Education for Children Living with Albinism in Kenya
Gertrude N Angote

Dzvova v Minister of Education, Sports and Culture & Ors
Bellinda Chinowawa

Republic v Head Teacher, Kenya High School, ex parte SMY
Charlotte Leslie

The Legal Way of Doing Things: The Competing Powers of School Governing Bodies and Education Authorities in South Africa
Karabo Ngidi

The ECOWAS Decision on the Right to Education in SERAP v Nigeria
Adetokunbo Mumuni and Chinyere Nwafor

Advancing the Right to Education Through the Communication Procedure in the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Charlotte Leslie