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The Bergen Declaration, 2016

In 2016, the Bergen Declaration marked a significant milestone in global student cooperation and laid the foundation for today's Global Student Forum.

The Bergen Declaration, 2016

This initiative, led by the European Students' Union (ESU) and the National Union of Students in Norway (NSO), concluded the work of the International Cooperation Student Working Group. This group included representatives from ESU, Spain, France, and the UK—countries with historical connections and extensive networks in student movements worldwide.

The Bergen Declaration outlined the terms for a new international student platform, emphasizing education as a public good, access to education (especially for women), sustainability, mobility, and student safety. It represented a commitment to creating a more formalized and coordinated student voice on the global stage, moving beyond regional boundaries to address global issues collectively.

Press Release by ESU (01.06.2016)

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is glad to announce its formal adoption of the «The Bergen Declaration» a global declaration drafted by student activists from South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific in May 2016. The Norwegian Students’ Union (NSO) and the European Students’ Union (ESU) jointly took the initiative to compose, together with students from across the globe, a document which demonstrates a statement of values for a global student voice.

The Bergen Declaration aims to increase cooperation between student organisations and build a network that can develop into a global movement. With the rise of communication technologies at global scale, students now have the opportunity to share their experiences and connect around global threats such as access to education, the commodification of tertiary education systems, academic freedom and students’ rights to organize.

“It is really inspiring to meet student activists from across the globe and share our common concerns. Being united beyond regional borders, makes us truly stronger. This document is just the beginning of something bigger, and the start of a long term process.” says Fernando Galan, President, European Students’ Union

This is not the first attempt to build an international student voice. In the past, students used to gather from across the world to discuss ways forward in making education systems more egalitarian and inclusive. What is new now, are the means of communications that significantly reduce space, time and costs, thus making it easier to share ideas and collaborate in real time.

“A Global Student Voice will not be built all at once, but the Bergen Declaration sets the foundations from which a global student movement can be shaped. Now more than ever before, students need to stand together in solidarity and demand our rights to self-organise, to enjoy freedom of speech and accessible education. We are really happy to see the work of ESU’s international cooperation working group (ICWG) concretising and our member NSO take the lead in inviting student unions from all over the globe to participate in a joint seminar with ESU’s members in May. ” says Fernando Galan, Chairperson, European Students’ Union

The Bergen Declaration was prepared by a small drafting group, regionally balanced in order to ensure all points of view were equally represented, and endorsed afterwards by the 70th General Assembly of ESU. The declaration sets out a visionary course moving in the direction of developing formal cooperation across the continents. Other student unions are welcome to sign the Declaration, as global challenges need united responses and support to national and regional actions defending student rights.

“We cannot stop now and believe that a declaration alone will improve students’ representation. We must work to create forums for the organisations which support the Bergen Declaration. Representation and inclusion of the future generation will be a crucial key to ensure sustainable development in the world”, concludes Helge Schwitters, Officer of International Affairs, Norwegian Student Union.

Download the Declaration

Communication team profile image Communication team
The Communication team curates Global Student Forums' digital content and prepares publications. It is a small, dedicated team from around the world.