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AAAS Declares Opposition to Boycott

By The American Association for the Advancement of Science, 6 June 2007
Source: AAAS Declares Its Opposition to the UK University and College Union Motion Urging Support for "an International Boycott of all Israeli Academic Institutions"

AAAS Declares Its Opposition to the UK University and College Union Motion Urging Support for "an International Boycott of all Israeli Academic Institutions"

Throughout its nearly 160-year history, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has stressed the importance of safeguarding free and open communication among scientists. The fundamental value of the international exchange of scholars and freedom of expression is embodied in international human rights treaties and conventions as well as in declarations adopted by scientific and other professional organizations throughout the world. In an era when science is an increasingly global enterprise despite rising international tensions, the lessons of history should be heeded, namely that free and open communication and exchanges among scientists can bring important economic and diplomatic benefits to their fellow citizens.

On two previous occasions, the AAAS Board of Directors declared its opposition to proposals under consideration by British higher education associations that called on their members to boycott academic contacts and exchanges with universities in Israel. The 2005 proposal was adopted and subsequently repealed, and the 2006 proposal was never approved.

This year, a new association, the University and College Union (UCU), which represents 120,000 college teachers, is considering another motion that would result in a boycott "of all Israeli academic institutions." The motion, which was approved by delegates to the UCU’s annual meeting, was a response to a call from Palestinian trade unions to engage in a boycott of Israeli academics. We urge the membership of UCU, which will be discussing the motion over the next twelve months, to reject it. We join with others in condemning the motion as antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations, despite political differences. In the context of the highly charged atmosphere of the Middle East, it is crucial to keep channels of communication open in order to foster a dialogue that is inclusive of all affected people. There is no doubt that the motion is politically motivated by a vocal minority within the UCU with a particular political agenda. That is unfortunate. Free scientific inquiry and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and scholarly matters.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the international journal, Science. AAAS was founded in 1848. It has nearly 130,000 individual members and 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals worldwide.


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