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The Crucial Importance of Access to Education and Scholarly Institutions
November 6, 2006

We, the members of the Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, unreservedly endorse the October 31, 2006, statement, issued by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, regarding “Access Restrictions Imposed on Palestinian Students and Scientists.”

Our Network is composed of national academies and scholarly societies which affiliate themselves with our goal of addressing grave issues of science and human rights throughout the world. As stated in a June 13, 2002, article in Nature titled “In Support of Scientific Exchange,” our Network “seeks to promote the free exchange of ideas and opinions among scientists and scholars in all countries and, thereby, to stimulate the development of collaborative educational, research and human rights endeavors within academies and the institutions with which they are affiliated.”

Accordingly, when Israeli academics and academic institutions were threatened with international political boycotts, the Network strongly opposed these initiatives and took counter-measures to promote scientific exchange, including between Israeli and Palestinian scholars and scholarly institutions.

Correspondingly, because the Israeli military authorities’ are today denying or restricting Palestinian students and scientists from traveling to their academic institutions, we now join the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in opposing “any measures, by any government, restricting or impairing the ability of scientists and students to carry out their scientific work and to discharge their scientific or academic responsibilities.” We also join the Israel academy in calling upon the government of the State of Israel specifically “to refrain from instituting any policy that hinders any group of scientists or academics, whether Palestinian or otherwise, from properly discharging their academic responsibilities.” We concur that “cases where security considerations are deemed to require placing restrictions on a person’s movements should be adjudicated as such, on an individual basis and with all due consideration for a person’s human rights.”

It is our sincere hope that this policy of academic exclusion will be promptly reversed.

Arjuna Aluwihare, Sri Lanka

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, France

François Jacob, France

Belita Koiller, Brazil

John Polanyi, Canada

Pieter van Dijk, The Netherlands

Edoardo Vesentini, Italy

Torsten Wiesel, United States of America