Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition
Welfare of Scientists
The scientific community has a long history of working to defend and protect the human rights of colleagues around the world and in the United States. The following organizations have programs or projects devoted to this important work.
Organizations Defending the Human Rights of Scientists
AAAS Science and Human Rights Program: Action Alerts
The AAAS Science and Human Rights Program (SHRP) calls attention to human rights abuses involving scientists and scientific communities through the circulation of Action Alerts issued by professional associations on behalf of their colleagues or by human rights organizations.
Cases that are publicized through the Action Alerts are researched and developed by the association or organization that submits the call for action. The alerts provide important background information on the case(s), and recommend specific actions to support the victim(s) of human rights abuse. The Action Alerts reach hundreds of AAAS members and other concerned scientists and engineers who are a part of SHRP's network.
We invite you to join our SHRP action alert network to help publicize cases that require action on the part of the scientific community.
American Chemical Society, Committee on International Activities and Subcommittee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights
Contact: Brad Miller
ACS monitors the world for violations of the human rights of scientists and joins with other societies in petitioning the governments of the countries where such violations take place.
American Mathematical Society, Committee on Human Rights of Mathematicians
Contact: Mark S. Abler, Chair; Office Secretary for AMS Committees
The American Mathematical Society's Committee on the Human Rights of Mathematicians concentrates its activity of the rights of mathematicians living outside the United States. It investigates cases or rights abuse, makes polite inquiries of foreign governments and embassies, and, when, appropriate, intervenes on behalf either of individuals or, occasionally, groups of individuals.
American Physical Society, Committee on International Freedom of Scientists
Contact: Noemi G. Mirkin, Chair; Michele Irwin, Committee Administrator
CIFS is responsible for monitoring concerns regarding human rights for scientists throughout the world. It apprises the APS leadership of problems encountered by scientists in pursuit of their scientific interests or in effecting satisfactory communication with other scientists. CIFS recommends appropriate courses of action designed to alleviate such problems, including writing letters to protest human rights violations.
American Political Science Association (APSA) Section on Human Rights
Contact: Todd Landman, President, APSA Section on Human Rights
The APSA Section on Human Rights was established to encourage scholarship and facilitate exchange of data and research findings on all components of human rights (e.g., civil, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental), their relationship, determinants and consequences of human rights policies, structure and influence of human rights organizations, development, implementation, impact on international conventions, and changes in the international human rights regime.
American Political Science Association (APSA) Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedom
Contact: Richard G.C. Johnston, Chair
The responsibility of the Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights and Freedoms is to protect the rights of political scientists and ensure that the ethical policies of the Association are followed.
American Statistical Association, Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights
Contact: William Seltzer, Chair, Fordham University NY; Rebecca Nichols, Staff Liaison
The Committee concerns itself with violations of and threats to the scientific freedom and human rights of statisticians and other scientists throughout the world. The Committee also assists scientific societies on statistical questions relating to data on human rights.
Amnesty International USA – Individuals and Risk program
Amnesty International is a grassroots activist organization which undertakes research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights. The US Section of AI can be reached through their website.
Committee of Concerned Scientists (CCS)
400 East 85th Street, #10K
New York, NY 10028
The Committee of Concerned Scientists speaks out for scholars and scientists who have been the victims of human-rights abuse. They take action to help academic colleagues around the world whose work has been hindered by illegal or repressive measures because of their support of human rights or their critical attitudes towards their own governments.
Committee to Protect Journalists (journalists, translators, some of whom are scientists/scholars)
Contact: Joel Simon, Executive Director
CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.
Council for Assisting Refugee Academics
Through scholarships and targeted assistance, CARA helps refugee academics re-establish their lives and careers so that their special knowledge and abilities may continue to benefit humankind. CARA also uses its expertise to provide advice and develop resources for the wider refugee community on education, training and employment opportunities.
Front Line: The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line seeks to provide rapid and practical support to at-risk human rights defenders (human rights activists including scientists and scholars), including a 24-hour emergency response phone line, and promotes the visibility and recognition of human rights defenders as a vulnerable group. They mobilize campaigning and lobbying on behalf of defenders at immediate risk and, in emergency situations, can facilitate temporary relocation.
Human Rights First – Human Rights Defenders program
Contact: Brenda Soder
Phone: 202-370-3323 (Washington DC Office)
Phone: 212-845-5200 (New York Office)
Human Rights Defenders program (human rights activists, including scholars, artists, scientists, journalists, public policy officials). When defenders are imprisoned, threatened, or at imminent risk, Human Rights First uses its access to high-level government officials and the media to galvanize quick action on the defender’s behalf. We also mobilize our growing grassroots constituency through the online Defender Alert Network.
International Cities of Refuge Network, ICORN
Contact: Elisabeth Dyvik, Project Coordinator
The International Cities of Refuge Network is an association of cities around the world dedicated to the value of Freedom of Expression. Each ICORN city focuses on one writer or scholar at a time, with each writer representing the countless others in hiding, in prison or silenced forever.
International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies
Contact: Carol Corillon
The International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies assists colleagues (scientists and scholars) around the world who are subjected to severe repression solely for having nonviolently exercised their rights. It also promotes human rights consciousness-raising and institutional commitment to human rights work among counterpart academies and scholarly societies worldwide.
International PEN, English PEN
International PEN's primary goal is to engage with and empower societies and communities across cultures and languages, through reading and writing, including scholarly works. They act through the promotion of literature, international campaigning on issues such as translation and freedom of expression and improving access to literature at international, regional and national levels.
WEB site: Pen American Center
WEB site: International Pen
National Academies, Committee on Human Rights
Contact: Carol Corillon
The Committee on Human Rights uses the influence and prestige of the institutions the National Academy of Sciences represents on behalf of scientists, engineers, and health professionals anywhere in the world. It works to promote justice for individuals who are threatened, unjustly detained or imprisoned for exercising their basic human rights or for political reasons. Activities of the committee include private inquiries, appeals to governments, moral support to prisoners and their families, and consciousness-raising efforts such as workshops and symposia.
Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR)
Contact: Jonathan Travis, Programme Officer; General Email
Fax : 44-207-021-0881
NEAR facilitates collaborative action between international organizations active in issues of academic freedom and educational rights and is committed to promoting an understanding of, and respect for, human rights. NEAR receives reports of academic rights violations from its member organizations and credible media sources which are posted as alerts on the NEAR website.
WEB site: NEAR alerts by country
Network of Concerned Historians (NCH)
Contact: Dr. A. De Baets
The Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) wants to provide a bridge between international human rights organizations campaigning for censored or persecuted historians (and others concerned with the past) and the global community of historians. The Annual Reports, appearing since 1995, contain news about the domain where history and human rights intersect, especially about the censorship of history and the persecution of historians, archivists, and archaeologists around the globe, as reported by various human rights organizations and other sources. You may wish to visit: Campaigns for historians, NCH Annual Reports, or general Codes of Ethics.
New York Academy of Sciences, Committee on Human Rights of Scientists
Contact: Carmen Florencia McCaffery, Human Rights Program Liaison
New York Academy of Sciences
7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich St. 40th Floor
New York NY 10007-2157
The Committee on the Human Rights of Scientists was created in 1978 to support and promote the human rights of scientists, health professionals, engineers, and educators around the world. The committee intervenes on behalf of colleagues in the sciences who have been detained, imprisoned, exiled, or deprived of the rights to pursue science, communicate their findings to their peers and the general public, and travel freely. It also annually honors scientists for their contributions in this area with the Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award.
A more detailed description can be found on their website.
Reporters Without Borders
RWB defends journalists and media-assistants, including some scientists and scholars, who are imprisoned, mistreated, persecuted or tortured for doing their job. RWB also fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom, gives financial aid each year to 100 or so journalists or media outlets in difficulty (to pay for lawyers, medical care and equipment) as well to the families of imprisoned journalists, and works to improve the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones.
Contact: Sarah Willcox, Deputy Executive Director; General Email
Institute of International Education
809 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
The Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers and other senior academics to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community at large.
Frequently updated lists of scholars looking for hosts
Scholars at Risk Network
SAR is an international network of universities and colleges responding to scholars who have been attacked because of their words, their ideas and their place in society. SAR promotes academic freedom and defends the human rights of scholars and their communities worldwide through the SAR website, email bulletins, publications and events. The SAR Speaker Series brings threatened scholars to member campuses to engage directly with students, faculty, alumni and the community.
WEB site: Scholars at Risk lists scholars in prison
WEB site: Lists scholars looking for hosts
The Social Research Endangered Scholars Worldwide Project
Through Social Research, the Endangered Scholars Worldwide Project calls attention to the increasing, often brutal, attempts to silence colleagues around the world. Social Research publishes the names of endangered scholars and provides further details, along with draft letters of protest to the people responsible for their arrest and treatment.
(page updated 10/02/2012)