Freedom of Movement and Association

The Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science entails the freedom of movement and of association. Accordingly, international scientific meetings arranged or sponsored by ISC itself or its Membership must be free from discrimination against attendees. This implies rights and responsibilities on the part of both organizers of and participants in such international scientific meetings.

ISC position on conference and event boycotts

29 March 2021

The ISC is updating its position on boycotts, visas and travel to meet the needs of new challenges in a fast-changing world.

A full position will be forthcoming.

ISC position on conference and event boycotts

In accordance with ISC Statute 7, all ISC Members that organize or sponsor international scientific meetings are expected to ensure that participation of scientists is free from discrimination of any kind. Boycotts against the participation of scientists because of their nationality, political or religious beliefs, or place of work, are in breach of the ISC Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science.

The situation regarding international meetings hosted in the Middle East or North Africa, or with a focus on that region, requires special attention. There have been several instances where scientists and or organizations have boycotted or disrupted scientific meetings because of the participation of counterparts from other countries, such as Israel, or where scientists from these countries have been excluded from participation. This is in contradiction of the ISC Principle of Freedom and Responsibility in Science.
ISC is unequivocally in favour of co-operation

International meetings & visas

The Science Council is concerned that measures taken by some national authorities in an attempt to prevent illegal immigration, especially for economic reasons, are making the visa application process unpleasant, drawn out, obscure, expensive and unpredictable. This may interfere with international scientific meetings when travelling scientists require visas, and has become a significant obstacle to actually holding such meetings.

The Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (established by ICSU prior to the creation of the International Science Council and the Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science) therefore developed an advisory document for conference organizers, sponsors and participants to avoid difficulties and improve the chances of a positive resolution when problems do occur. On this basis, the importance of taking the following measures is emphasized.


For meeting organizers

  • Obtain assurances from relevant government authorities that they will facilitate visas for bona fide scientists when considering a country for a meeting
  • Provide details of how and when to obtain visas in the initial information/invitation at least 6 months prior to the meeting
  • Present lists of meeting participants who do require visas to the embassies of the country that hosts the meeting in the countries of residence of these participants as early as possible to facilitate the visa issuing process
  • Inform prospective participants to immediately report any difficulties related to their visa applications to the organisers
  • Report any difficulties relating to the issuing of visas without delay to the ISC Member sponsoring the meeting

For meeting sponsors

  • Seek information from CFRS on the past record of the intended host country regarding visa delivery
  • Intervene with the relevant authorities in the event of visa difficulties and inform CFRS at once

For meeting participants

  • Submit visa applications following the information and the timeframe provided by the meeting organizers. Scientist in a country of current residence, which is not that of their citizenship, or whose country of residence/citizenship is experiencing political difficulties with the country hosting the meeting, may need to apply up to 6 months prior to the meeting
  • Take into account that traveling to a meeting destination involving passing through third countries may require transit visas, applications for which may require up to 6 months’ leeway, and consult the applicable regulations prior to making travel plans
  • Report difficulties over visa applications at once to the meeting organizers to obtain assistance in due time
  • Provide the visa issuing authorities with all required documents. As evidence that financial means suffice to cover both travel expenses and the stay in the country that hosts the meeting, copies of bank statements, flight tickets and booked accommodation are usually required. If the meeting organizer or the employer covers these costs, this should be documented appropriately. As evidence that they will return to your current country of residence after the meeting, students and PhD candidates should provide university enrolment documents and scientists employment contracts that are current.