The National Library of Sweden takes a position against IFLA congress in Dubai
The Governing Board of IFLA has decided to hold its annual congress, WLIC, in Dubai in 2024. The National Library of Sweden has chosen not to support the decision in the advisory referendum initiated by IFLA among its members. "The decision is incompatible with IFLA and the core values of the library sector, such as inclusion and freedom of expression," says National Librarian Karin Grönvall.
The United Arab Emirates is a federated monarchy where significant deficiencies in democracy and human rights have been noted. For instance, homosexual relationships are illegal. Ahead of IFLA's congress, the Dubai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made it clear that issues related to LGBTQ+ should not be included in the meeting's agenda.
After deliberations, the Governing Board of IFLA has decided that the meeting of the 'LGBTQ+ Users Special Interest Group' will take place in another location and will not be listed in the program. This is not in line with IFLA's core value of promoting human rights and inclusion and goes against the mission of the library sector. It is also not reasonable for the host country to set the framework for what can or cannot be discussed during the congress.
The position of the National Library of Sweden
IFLA has initiated an advisory referendum among its members regarding the decision to hold the congress in Dubai in 2024. The National Library of Sweden has made it clear that they do not support the decision.
"We understand that it may be virtually impossible to find another solution so close to the upcoming meeting. However, a canceled WLIC 2024 is preferable to a congress where all participants cannot feel safe and where the association cannot hold the free and open discussion that is fundamental to IFLA's activities," states National Librarian Karin Grönvall.