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Queen’s Statement on the Middle East Conflict

Queen's University Belfast has today issued a statement reiterating the Vice Chancellor's call for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestine territory of Gaza.


The University has met with various stakeholders to listen to the views of the communities and agree a way forward, which includes an enhanced student role in the University's overall decision-making structures and governance. The University will divest investments in companies that are listed by the UN Human Rights Council as carrying out listed activities in relation to Palestine. Queen's representatives have expressed their willingness to meet with all parties affected by the ongoing conflict  as well as a number of initiatives specifically developed to support academics and students at risk.

Queen’s University Belfast is committed to freedom of expression, the right to hold a range of views, and the promotion and protection of the right to protest. This applies to our students, academics, and professional staff, and indeed the wider public. During recent months, we have met individuals and representatives of many organisations, including Trade Unions, the Students’ Union, and other interest groups. We have had constructive discussions, listened to concerns and ideas, and exchanged views in an atmosphere of mutual respect, with a genuine desire to find solutions and common ground on a range of issues, and we will continue to do so. Student and alumni activism is an integral part of the history of Queen’s University Belfast, and we recognise that Tuesday’s protest underlines the humanitarian spirit at the core of the Queen’s community.

On 17 March 2024, the President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Ian Greer, publicly called for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Statement here: Queen's University response to recent events in Israel, Gaza and the Middle East | News | Queen's University Belfast (


Today, the Vice-Chancellor has repeated his plea for an immediate ceasefire:

“Once again, I call upon national political leaders to work with the negotiation teams to reach an agreement that will allow an immediate ceasefire, the release of the hostages and the urgent allocation of humanitarian aid in Gaza. I would also express the hope of many that current talks could start a peace process that would lead to a just and lasting settlement and peace for both the people of Palestine and Israel. We condemn the actions of Hamas on 7 October 2023, the significant loss of life in Gaza, the targeting of hospitals, and educational institutions, in particular Universities.”

In line with the University’s ambition to become a University of Sanctuary, we recently announced support for both academics at risk and Palestinian students through fellowship and scholarship programmes. Statement from 23 April 2024 here: Queen’s announces new measures of support for at risk academics and students | News | Queen's University Belfast (

Queen’s will also strongly support a programme to restore educational structures in Gaza as soon as this is possible, which includes an offer to establish a partnership with a University in Palestine.

As part of our commitment to UN Sustainability Goals we are engaged in promoting human rights through our teaching and external relationships. We accept there are many different views on the conflict in the Middle East, and as such, the University is firmly committed to protecting the right to freedom of thought and expression for students and staff within a framework of respect for the rights of other persons.

Some students, staff and alumni have approached the University administration to express their opposition to the recent protests and statements, and senior staff have agreed to also meet with each individual or group. We respect their views and right to express their opinion, and we hope to engage in dialogue in order to address the various issues raised. Student and staff welfare remains our primary focus during this difficult period. We want to assure the entire University community that freedom of expression for all viewpoints is strongly protected within our institutional values and Charter, and no one will be allowed to block or remove anyone’s right to freedom of thought or opinion at Queen’s.

The University is committed to promoting equality of opportunity, good relations and respect for diversity and inclusion on campus. We are a hugely diverse community comprising of approximately 25,000 students and staff of many faiths and religious beliefs, representing over 100 different nationalities. In line with our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, the University is opposed to all forms of unlawful discrimination which includes antisemitism and islamophobia and will seek to ensure that all staff and students are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. As stated in our policy, there is a zero tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination, bullying and harassment, particularly where it arises as a result of any protected characteristic.

Academic freedom is enshrined as a guiding principle in the University’s Charter and Statutes, and the University fully supports the right of its academics to publish work and express academic opinion within this framework. 

Following last year’s Students’ Union referendum, an agreement was made between the University and the Students’ Union to update the University’s Responsible Investment Policy to limit and continually review its direct investment in weapons manufacturing. The agreement has enhanced the student role in the University's overall decision-making structures and governance. The Responsible Investment Policy also sets out the University's commitment to exclude companies involved in the extraction and production of fossil fuels from its investments. 

Following a joint proposal from the President and Vice-Chancellor and the Students’ Union President, due to the continued conflict in Gaza and in line with the International Court of Justice’s recent finding on genocide, the University has agreed to engage with its investment managers to initiate a process to divest from investments in companies that are listed by the UN Human Rights Council as carrying out listed activities in relation to Palestine. The University currently has no direct investment in Israeli Companies, the indirect investment is negligible and is already subject to our responsible investment policy. We will bring forward proposals on this matter within the framework of the Responsible Investment Policy with ongoing reports on the progress for implementing these decisions being provided to the Senate Planning and Finance Committee which includes elected staff and students as members.

What we have learned from the Northern Ireland conflict is that dialogue and compromise between all parties founded on justice and equality is the only way to achieve lasting peace, and at Queen’s, we express our desire and genuine hope that the current negotiations will lead to a permanent end to the current conflict.


Media enquiries to Queen’s Communications Office