Deputy Mayor for Housing, Equal Opportunities, and Global Policy Lies Corneillie signed the ICORN Membership Agreement, affirming Leuven’s commitment to freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights in front of the 300 ICORN Network Meeting participants. The decision to become an ICORN City of Refuge fits with Leuven’s ambition to become a Human Rights City by the end of 2023.
Upon signing the ICORN Membership Agreement, Deputy Mayor Lies Corneillie said:
‘Human rights in general, and freedom of expression, in particular, are under pressure worldwide. It is important that experienced activists, but also writers, journalists, and artists can continue to share their opinion and vision of society through their work. As a new ICORN City of Refuge, we want to contribute to the preservation and promotion of that freedom of expression, a universal human right. In concrete terms, we are committed to effectively offering protection to the first ICORN writer or artist in 2024.’
Located in the Flemish Region of Belgium, Leuven is the eighth biggest city in the country. It is also the home to Belgium’s largest university KU Leuven and a huge international student population. With its long history, Leuven has also developed a rich cultural scene, hosting one of Belgium’s conservatories The Lemmens Institute, Kunstencentrum STUK, a cultural centre for music, theatre, art, and dance, as well as the contemporary art museum M-Museum Leuven.
As an ICORN City of Refuge, Leuven joins the two current Belgian ICORN Members- Antwerp and Brussels. The Belgian capital was the host of the 2023 ICORN Network Meeting. Organised in close cooperation with the Passa Porta International House of Literature, and alongside the ninth edition of the Passa Porta Festival, the Network Meeting welcomed 300 participants for three days of workshops, discussions, and performances in the heart of Brussels.
You can read the City of Leuven’s press release here.