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The Universality of Science and Freedom in the Conduct of Science


Over several decades, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has expressed the sentiments of its members to safeguard open communication among scientists and freedom in the conduct of science. On each occasion, the inherent conflict between national security and open communications among scientists was recognized as an important factor requiring discretion and due diligence. Nonetheless, the postwar period has made clear the interrelationships between our national security, prosperity, and scientific collaboration. While we recognize the need for appropriate security for classified materials, recent events compel the Association to state anew our support of an open intellectual dialog among the world's scientific communities and to express our opposition to the measures being promoted to isolate and compartmentalize US scientists in the name of national security. We emphasize the fact that intellectual scientific discourse is apolitical, beneficial to all peoples, and can promote constructive cooperation, despite political differences, among nations. On the other hand, the abridgement of scientific exchange injures all nations. Allegations of espionage and breaches of national security should not be politicized and used to impugn the loyalty of American scientists because of their ethnicity or to denigrate the value of the system of open international scientific exchange.

Whereas progress in science and technology is greatly enhanced by the unfettered exchange of information especially the right to travel; and

Whereas such progress promotes both the national security and the general welfare; and

Whereas foreign scientists have made valuable contributions to the research productivity of the United States; and

Whereas public availability of unclassified scientific and technical information is a necessity for democratic decision-making in a wide range of important public policy issues; and

Whereas progress in science will be impeded if political criteria are used to obstruct the open international discourse of scientists and engineers; and

Whereas the universal language of science is often a means available to bridge the political chasms that divide nations,

Be it therefore resolved that the American Association for the Advancement of Science strongly reaffirms its opposition to continuing government efforts to restrict communication of unclassified research among and between US scientists and their international colleagues. We oppose the use of immigration laws or other legal and administrative measures to bar foreign visitors and travel restrictions on US scientists to impede international exchanges. And we deplore as unjust and shameful the characterization of any American scientist as disloyal, and any foreign visitors as suspect based on their ethnic origins.

Be it therefore further resolved that AAAS encourages its affiliated societies to endorse this resolution and to communicate their support to appropriate officials inside and outside government.

[Adopted by the AAAS Board of Directors, June 25, 1999.]