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of the NAS, NAE, and NAM

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The Committee on Human Rights (CHR), created in 1976, is a standing membership committee of the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The CHR serves as a bridge between the human rights and scientific communities, in recognition of the importance of rights protection both for scientific inquiry and the realization of human dignity worldwide. It advocates in support of scientists, engineers, and health professionals subjected to serious human rights abuses worldwide. 

The infographics below (click on the images to expand them) highlight the CHR’s advocacy efforts and provide a regional breakdown of our current and “resolved” cases*, as well as types of abuse suffered by colleagues.  They also provide a snapshot of members of the Academies who lend support to the work of the CHR (CHR Correspondents). Data is from March 2018. 

*“Resolved” cases are cases on which the Committee is no longer working as the result of significant positive developments (e.g. release, acquittal). Resolved cases may be reopened as a result of subsequent negative developments.

March 2018 infographic                                                             Current and resolved breakdown March 2018


In the Spotlight   

In Memory of Dr. Martha Vaughan, Member Emerita of the Committee on Human Rights 

martha vaughan
National Institutes of Health, Photo by Bill Branson 

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of National Academy of Sciences member Martha Vaughan, who served on the Committee on Human Rights (CHR) from 1992-1998.  Dr. Vaughan was elected to the NAS in 1985 for her pioneering work in the field of metabolic regulation. She spent the majority of her distinguished career at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Vaughan first became involved in the work of the CHR in 1985.  Both as a Committee member and as a CHR “Correspondent”, she took countless actions in support of individual scientists subjected to human rights abuses as a result of their professional activities or for having peacefully spoken out about injustice within their societies.   

Dr. Vaughan’s support over the past 32 years has been invaluable to the Committee, and we are deeply grateful to have had the pleasure to know and work with her.  



H.R. Network Resource Guide: Engaging with Human Rights in the National Academy Context

H.R. Network Resource Guide coverIn recognition of the unique and important role national academies play in promoting human rights, the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network), for which the CHR serves as the Secretariat, is pleased to announce the release of its resource guide, Engaging with Human Rights in the National Academy Context.

The H.R. Network’s guide highlights the creative, and varying, ways in which national academies around the world are integrating human rights activities into their work.  In particular, it examines:

     • Appeals Concerning Human Rights Violations
     • Assistance Following Conflict and Human Rights Abuse
     • Human Rights Dialogue and Research

For more information, please refer to the resource guide or visit the H.R. Network website.



CHR Issues Proceedings in Brief of its Symposium, Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict  

Sam Tarling photo
[Photo credit: Sam Tarling]
On December 7-8, 2017, the CHR convened a symposium on the role that scientists, engineers, and health professionals can play in addressing rights-related challenges confronting forcibly displaced persons. Major themes of the symposium – including the role of research, opportunities and risks presented by technological advances, and aid for scholars seeking to continue their careers in exile –


A full recording of the meeting can also be found on the CHR Symposium webpage.



The Harmful Consequence of Separating Families 

The presidents of NAS, NAE, and NAM have issued a statement urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to immediately stop separating migrant children from their families. Reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine contain an extensive body of evidence on the factors that affect the welfare of children – evidence that points to the danger of current immigration enforcement actions that separate children from their parents. In addition, the Committee on Human Rights stresses that the practice of separating parents from their children at the border is inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Read more...

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