More than 260 staff, students, and alumni from Queen's University Belfast (QUB) have signed a letter concerning the role of QUB's Chancellor Hillary Clinton's "position on the horrific violence in Gaza."

Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, received an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast in October 2018 and was later appointed the University’s 11th and first female Chancellor in January 2020.

QUB says that Clinton is "an internationally recognised public servant" and that she "has strong links with Queen’s and Northern Ireland, especially because of her outstanding contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland."

Clinton is described by QUB as "a strong advocate for Northern Ireland and an inspirational role model for the Queen’s community."

A new letter signed by more than 260 QUB staff, students, and alumni, concerning Clinton's position on Gaza is reprinted here in full with permission of signatory Professor Cahal McLaughlin:

Dear Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor,

As QUB staff, students and alumni we wish to register profound concern regarding the continuing role of Hillary Clinton as our Chancellor. On 14 November 2023, she wrote an op-ed for The Atlantic, rejecting the call for a ceasefire in Gaza. She stated, ‘A full cease-fire that leaves Hamas in power would be a mistake.’ Given the USA’s major role in supplying military support to Israel, her statement amounts to validation of the ongoing massacre of civilians and infrastructure in Gaza.

We are aware that QUB accepts research investment by companies that construct and sell lethal weapons to Israel; these include Thales and BAE Systems. Further, we understand that QUB has invested over £5 million in arms companies. Unambiguously, this implicates our university in war crimes.

The full scale of Israel’s violence was starkly evidenced by Blinne Ni Ghrálaigh, KC, instructed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice on 11 January 2024. She stated, ‘On average, 247 Palestinians are being killed and are at risk of being killed each day, many of them literally blown to pieces. They include 48 mothers each day. Two every hour. And over 117 children each day, leading Unicef to call Israel's actions a war on children. Entire multigenerational families would be obliterated’.

Specifically, regarding violence against academics in Gaza, on 20 January 2024 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported, ‘The Israeli army has killed 94 university professors, along with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, as part of its genocidal war against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023’.

The above statistics have increased with the ongoing deadly violence visited indiscriminately on Gaza’s population by the Israeli bombardment. To date, over 31,000 people have been killed, with two thirds of them women and children, with an average of 63 women killed each day (UNRWA). These statistics, the consequence of what is euphemistically represented as necessary ‘collateral damage’, run counter to our Chancellor’s advocacy for women’s rights.

As a university, we have a responsibility to support Peace, Security and Justice, as one of our research institutes is proudly titled. Given that the ICJ decision considers that unlawful killing amounting to genocide is occurring, we have a duty as academics and as citizens to support without equivocation the call for an end to the violence. That call is severely diminished by the position that Hillary Clinton - our Chancellor - has adopted; and by continued investment in companies that have developed and manufactured weapons used in the commission of war crimes.

We ask the university to call for an immediate ceasefire, an urgent review of the current Chancellor’s position, and the introduction of a more rigorous ethical investment policy in consultation with staff and student unions.