Skip to Main Content
Contact Us   |   Keyword Search: 
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Human Rights
of the NAS, NAE, and NAM

About Us


International Human Rights Network

Support Us

Quick Links

For members of the NAS, NAE, NAM:

Help us support the rights 
of scientists, engineers, 
and health professionals



CHR Endorses Alberts’ Letter to President Milosevic

NOTE: National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts sent the following letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, expressing dismay over the Serbian government's refusal to issue visas to an international delegation of prominent academics who had hoped to travel to Belgrade to visit with counterparts there.

The delegation included two members of the National Academy of Sciences, Sam Treiman, professor of physics at Princeton University, and John Polanyi, professor of chemistry at University of Toronto and 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize. The two had planned to travel with a group to Belgrade to meet with Serbian academics who are protesting actions by the government to remove autonomy from the University of Belgrade.

According to U.S. State Department briefs, the delegation had planned to investigate the Milosevic regime's systematic effort to extinguish academic freedom and to purge university professors. The group also sought to highlight the release of a new report by the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch about ongoing assaults on academic freedom.

NAS members John Polanyi and Sam Treiman have actively supported the work of the Committee on Human Rights for many years. The Committee strongly endorses the January 28, 1999, letter sent by NAS President Bruce Alberts to Slobodan Milosevic, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

January 28, 1999

His Excellency Slobodan Milosevic
President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Predsenik SRJ, Bulevar Lenjina 2
11070 Belgrade, Yugoslavia


I write to express dismay at your government’s recent denial of visas to two distinguished members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, John Polanyi and Sam Treiman, and other prominent academics. To deny them visas to travel to Belgrade to meet with colleagues and students there is a flagrant obstruction of their freedom to exchange ideas. To characterize them as anything other than dedicated scientists of the utmost integrity is appalling.

I trust that the denial of visas and the ludicrous political allegations made against these internationally respected academics were unintentional and will be rescinded.

Bruce Alberts
cc: Dr. Aleksandar Despic, President, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Dr. Dragutin Velickovic, Rector, University of Belgrade