Freedoms & Responsibilities of Scientists

The International Science Council promotes the idea that science is a common human endeavour that transcends national boundaries and is to be shared by all people. Scientific progress results from global exchange of ideas, data, materials and understanding of the work of others.

On that basis, the Council focuses on three overlapping aspects:

  • freedom and responsibility in science;
  • access to scientific data and information; and,
  • strengthening science in developing countries.

The guardian of this work is the ISC advisory Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS).

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ISC Statute 7

The Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science: the free and responsible practice of science is fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental well-being. Such practice, in all its aspects, requires freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information, and other resources for research. It requires responsibility at all levels to carry out and communicate scientific work with integrity, respect, fairness, trustworthiness, and transparency, recognising its benefits and possible harms.

In advocating the free and responsible practice of science, the Council promotes equitable opportunities for access to science and its benefits, and opposes discrimination based on such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political or other opinion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or age.

Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in Science

The Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) serves as the guardian of the ISC’s commitment to the Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science, which is enshrined in Statute 7 and adherence to which is a condition for ISC Membership. Its mission is to raise international awareness for and promote freedom and responsibility aspects related to the conduct of science. It does this by issuing advisory material, organising scientific meetings and by considering cases of individual scientists whose human rights are infringed.

Committee meeting proceedings are available in meeting reports. In its work, the Committee is guided by Terms of Reference and a work plan approved by the ISC Membership.

For information on the Committee’s current membership and reports from its meetings, please see this page in our About Us section.


  • 1963: Standing Committee on the Free Circulation of Scientists (SCFCS) established
  • 1993: renamed to Standing Committee on Freedom in the Conduct of Science, retaining the acronym SCFCS
  • 1996: Standing Committee on Ethics and Responsibility in Science (SCRES) established
  • 2006: Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS) established as a merger of SCFCS and SCRES, following a strategic ICSU review
  • 2018: Following the merger of ICSU with the International Social Science Council, a new Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in Science will be elected, according to Statute 31 of the new organisation’s statutes.

See also the short history of CFRS and its predecessor organisations, written by the former Committee Secretary Peter Schindler in 2009:

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