Freedom, Responsibility and Universality of Science
The International Council for Science (ICSU) is a non-governmental organization with a global membership composed of 120 national scientific bodies representing 140 countries and 31 International Scientific Unions. Founded in 1931, its vision is that of a world in which science is used for the benefit of all, excellence in science is valued and scientific knowledge is linked to policy making. To achieve this vision, ICSU’s focus is on International Research Collaboration, Science for Policy and Universality of Science.
By advocating the Principle of Universality of Science, ICSU’s goal is to help build a truly international science community. Because science is inherently a global enterprise, full participation in it requires free exchange and communication among all scientists, engagement in scientific discourse without repercussions, or fear thereof, as well as equitable and non-discriminatory access to the tools of science. At the same time, these freedoms entail responsibilities on the part of all scientists in the conduct of their scientific work. To address and promote both aspects, ICSU established the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS) in 2006. This Committee differs significantly from its predecessors that, since 1963, had focused on scientific freedom, in that it is explicitly charged with also emphasizing scientific responsibilities.
The Committee’s enlarged task finds reflection in this brochure, which is a revised version of the CFRS booklet “Freedom, Responsibility and Universality of Science,” produced in 2008. It explores the unique relationship between the sciences and societies in which they are practised by providing illustrative examples of how ICSU and its members, through CFRS, have addressed threats to freedom and promoted responsibility.