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Responding to Terrorism While Respecting Human Rights

A statement by the Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies

September 28, 2001

National Academies and Scholarly Societies represent the intellectual communities of countries around the world and are looked to for advice, leadership, and the advancement of knowledge. Their members are leaders in the sciences, engineering, medicine, law, and the arts and humanities. Increasingly, these institutions are also becoming active and providing leadership in human rights through the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies. Created in 1993, the Network primarily assists colleagues (scientists and scholars) around the world who are subjected to severe repression solely for having nonviolently exercised their rights as promulgated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Network also promotes human rights work among member academies and scholarly societies worldwide. It consists of autonomous academies and each has been given a copy of this statement to act upon at its own discretion.

Today, in the wake of the cataclysmic terrorist attacks of September 11, it is crucially imperative to actively and forcefully confront and combat such barbarism. Implementation of measures to prevent and deter terrorism, combined with the widespread search for terrorists and their supporters, is essential and urgent. At the same time, it is critically important to ensure protection of the human rights of innocent civilians in all countries, including in Afghanistan. The use of governmental powers of surveillance and detention in this time of crisis must be carried out judiciously, with respect for due process of law and the rights of individuals, so that we preserve the freedom and liberty vital to democratic societies.

The terrorist attacks have taken a devastating toll, both directly and indirectly, on the citizens of the United States and of nations around the world--citizens of every religion and every race. Our response to the loathsome and unfathomable display of inhumanity by the terrorists must be crafted to be effective both in combating terrorism and in maintaining support from people of good will throughout the world. We, the members of the Executive Committee of the Network, affirm, through this statement, our commitment to the achievement of peace, security, and justice--the ultimate triumph over the heretofore-unimaginable evil of terrorism--and offer our immediate assistance toward achieving this goal.

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (France)

François Jacob (France)

Max Perutz
(United Kingdom)

John Polanyi
(Canada)

Pieter van Dijk
(the Netherlands)

Edoardo Vesentini
(Italy)

Torsten Wiesel
(United States of America)