National academies and scholarly societies that have human rights committees and actively support the work of the H.R. Network are considered to be members. Other academies that want to consider the creation of a human rights committee and full involvement in the H.R. Network are welcome to send a prominent member as an observer to a H.R. Network meeting before making a final decision. More than 80 academies have sent participants to H.R. Network meetings. Both members and observers are encouraged to refer potentially relevant cases and human rights issues to the H.R. Network's secretariat for investigation and possible action.
Institutions that are members of the H.R. Network have full autonomy and act at their own discretion. They intervene, in the name of their institutions, on cases and issues brought to their attention by the H.R. Network secretariat through regular Action Alerts. These alerts often involve colleagues who are held without trial, are at risk of torure, or have been given harsh sentences. Many are confined under deplorable conditions, often in solitary confinement. Some have been tortured, most have been mistreated, and many are in poor health.
All members of the H.R. Network are expected to actively support its goals and to keep the secretariat informed of their efforts and any subsequent results. The H.R. Network secretariat also prepares petitions for imprisoned colleagues that are submitted to UNESCO's Committee on Conventions and Recommendations by selected academies and individuals. The H.R. Network occasionally sends observers to the trial of a colleague or colleagues.
Members of the H.R. Network believe that academies and scholarly societies worldwide are in a unique position to help promote and protect human rights, to raise the consciousness of academies and scholarly societies about human rights abuses and what they can do to help resolve them, to gain the freedom of their imprisoned colleagues, to assist others whose rights are unjustly and severely restricted, and to support the independence of sister academies throughout the world. Because academies and scholarly societies are held in high esteem and their dignity, integrity, and objectivity are widely recognized, their efforts, through a worldwide network, can be a powerful and effective tool in advancing respect for human rights.
Academies and scholarly societies interested in learning more about becoming members, should contact the H.R. Network's executive director, Rebecca Everly.