Freedoms and Responsibilities in Science

The Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science is embedded in the Council’s Statutes, as fundamental to scientific advancement and human and environmental wellbeing.

The right to share in and to benefit from advances in science and technology is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as is the right to engage in scientific enquiry, pursue and communicate knowledge, and to associate freely in such activities. But rights go hand in hand with responsibilities; in the responsible practice of science and the responsibility of scientists to contribute their knowledge in the public space. Both are essential to the ISC’s vision of science as a global public good. The Council’s Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science (CFRS) is the guardian of the Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science, which is enshrined in 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, recognizing 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.

CFRS works to uphold and protect the freedoms that scientists should enjoy, and the responsibilities they carry, while engaging in scientific practice. This includes monitoring and responding to threats to scientific freedoms around the world, and advising on responsible practice in challenging contexts. The Committee also works with a range of partners to identify and address issues related to scientific freedoms and responsibilities affecting global science systems.

The New Zealand government has actively supported CFRS since 2016. This support was generously renewed in 2019, with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, supporting CFRS via CFRS Special Advisor Frances Vaughan, based at Royal Society Te Apārangi, and by Dr Roger Ridley, Director Expert Advice and Practice, Royal Society Te Apārangi.