Help us support the rights of scientists, engineers and health professionals
Right to Science
Resources on the nature and scope of the right to science
June 6, 2020 STATEMENT CHR Statement on Structural Racism and Inequality in the United States As National Academy of Medicine President Victor Dzau recognized in his Statement on Racial Equity and the Adverse Effects of Racism, “(w)e all have a part to play at this pivotal moment in American history and in fueling the change that must follow.” As an organization that works to promote and protect international human rights, the CHR stands in opposition to racism and inequality and supports those who peacefully protest injustices. Read the CHR’s full statement.
April 2020 Proceedings-in-brief Human Rights and Digital Technologies Symposium As global decision-makers seek to leverage digital technologies in their response to COVID-19, an understanding of rights-related opportunities and challenges presented by such technologies is more important than ever. A Proceedings-in-Brief and highlights reel of the CHR fall 2019 symposium, Human Rights and Digital Technologies, address topics such as the relevance of human rights norms for digital information collection.
February 1, 2019 SPOTLIGHT Understanding Your Rights at Ports of Entry Many scientists and scholars travel in and out of the United States for personal or work-related reasons, and they often have questions about their rights when interacting with border officials. To better understand what rights apply in these situations, browse the ACLU's materials on immigrants' rights and rights when encountering law enforcement at ports of entry.
December 31, 2019 INFOGRAPHIC CHR Year In Numbers 2019 The CHR has produced an infographic, Year in Numbers, that provides a snapshot of some positive developments in CHR cases and outreach efforts in 2019. These achievements would not have been possible without the support of members of the National Academies and the wider scientific and human rights communities.
November 10, 2019 spotlight World Science Day for Peace and Development In honor of World Science Day for Peace and Development, we are highlighting the work Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) has done to estimate the number of disappearances and deaths during the Sri Lankan civil war. HRDAG has collaborated on multiple projects related to this topic through its expertise in statistical analysis. In doing so, HRDAG has helped provide closure to the families left behind and provided information essential for accountability. Read more...
October 17, 2019 spotlight International Day for the Eradication of Poverty In honor of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we are spotlighting National Academy of Medicine member Prof. Lesley Regan and her work to improve to access to family planning and maternal health care services for women around the world, the denial of which often perpetuates impoverished conditions. To learn more about efforts to ensure equal access to healthcare for women and girls around the world, read the CHR's interview Prof. Regan.
September 30, 2019 INTERVIEW Defending Health and Human Rights in Sudan After civilian protests against political and economic conditions erupted in Sudan in December 2018, reliable sources reported disproportionate, and frequently deadly, force by Sudanese authorities against peaceful demonstrators, with health professionals and the larger scientific and academic communities under particular threat. The CHR recently spoke with Shaza Elmahdi of the Sudanese American Physicians Association and Michael Payne of Physicians for Human Rights about their efforts to respond to the human rights crackdown in Sudan, particularly with regard to attacks on medical neutrality. Read more...
September 26, 2019 CONFERENCE Research and Human Rights The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters hosted an international conference, Research and Human Rights, to highlight the importance of incorporating human rights perspective into academic research and to address situations in which academic freedom is under attack. In her role as Executive Director of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, Dr. Everly presented on the topic of national academy engagement in human rights activities. Read more...
September 21, 2019 Spotlight International Day of Peace In celebration of the International Day of Peace, the CHR is spotlighting National Academy of Sciences member James Fearon's research on civil conflict, which has far-reaching implications for the protection and promotion of human rights in conflict settings. As Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies, Dr. James Fearon researches political violence, with a focus on finding explanations for civil conflict. The CHR spoke with Dr. Fearon about the relationship between his work and human rights. Read more...
September 11, 2019 SYMPOSIUM Human Rights and Scientific Education The eighth in a series of symposia devoted to the theme of human rights and science was held on September 11, 2019 in Paris, France on the topic of the right to education. The event was hosted by the French Academy of Sciences and co-organized with the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, which manages the symposium series. Rebecca Everly, Executive Director of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) joined a round table discussion during the symposium. Read more...
August 19, 2019 SPOTLIGHT World Humanitarian Day In celebration of World Humanitarian Day, we highlighted efforts by volunteers with Engineers Without Borders USA to help create and sustain job opportunities in refugee communities. Through such efforts, the organization helps individuals from these communities exercise their right to work. Read more...
July 26, 2019 H.R. NETWORK STATEMENt Statement Concerning Academic Freedom in Hungary The Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network), for which the CHR serves as Secretariat, issued a statement on July 29, 2019 expressing concern about threats to the autonomy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the broader scientific enterprise in Hungary.
June 19, 2019 PUBLIC STATEMENt National Academies, Referencing Health and Human Rights Concerns, Call for Global Action to Reduce Air Pollution On June 19, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, along with the national science academies of Brazil, Germany, and South Africa, jointly called for immediate action by all levels of society on reducing air pollution. The statement, which was delivered to senior United Nations representatives, emphasizes the significant adverse health effects of air pollution, and notes that the adverse impacts “fall most heavily upon vulnerable populations, such as children, women, and people living in poverty — groups to whom States have special obligations under international human rights law.”
May 15, 2019 Spotlight International Day of Families To celebrate the International Day of Families, we featured Dr. Mary-Claire King's groundbreaking use of genetic information to identify biological connections, which has led to the reunification of more than 100 families separated in Argentina in the mid-1970s and 1980s. Read our feature to learn about how Dr. King uses her expertise in genetics to promote human rights.
April 25, 2019 Spotlight World Malaria Day On World Malaria Day, the CHR highlighted Dr. Peter Agre, Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and former Chair of the CHR, and his work to develop innovative malaria treatments, as well as his efforts to ensure that such treatments are accessible to the communities most in need. Through such work, Dr. Agre is helping to further the right to health. To learn about how Dr. Agre and his colleagues harness the power of community engagement to find an end to malaria, read our feature here
April 11, 2019 ANNUAL REPORt 2018 CHR Year in Review In 2018, the CHR completed a number of major projects. We invite you to learn about these activities by reading the Committee's recently released 2018 Annual Report, which provides information on its advocacy, events, and awareness-raising projects.
March 6, 2019 IN memoriam In Memory of Sidney Verba, Former CHR Chair The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) is saddened to learn about the passing of National Academy of Sciences member Sidney Verba. Dr. Verba served as the CHR’s Chair from 2008 to 2014 and was a longtime human rights advocate. During his tenure, he oversaw the Committee’s efforts to help gain the release of several hundred unjustly imprisoned colleagues in the sciences, engineering, and medicine. Read more...
February 22, 2019 IN THE NEWS U.S. Biotech Company Ends Sale of Genetic Sequencers in Xinjiang Thermo Fisher Scientific, a leading biotechnology company based in Massachusetts, announced on February 20, 2019, that it would no longer sell genetic sequencing equipment in the Chinese region of Xinjiang—referencing “Thermo Fisher’s values, ethics code and policies.” Thermo Fisher’s decision follows widespread concern about use of the equipment for mass surveillance of the region’s Uyghur minority population.
February 20, 2019 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT World Day of Social Justice 2019 In celebration of World Day of Social Justice, we honor CHR member Vanessa Northington Gamble's efforts to promote the right to equality and non-discrimination, as former Chair of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study Legacy Committee. Dr. Northington Gamble was instrumental in securing a formal apology from the U.S. government for a decades-long non-therapeutic human experiment involving African American men. Click here to read more about Dr. Northington Gamble’s work to address the legacy of the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.
February 14, 2019 ARTICLE CHR Web Resources Highlighted in Nature The February 14, 2019 issue of Nature magazine features a Letter to the Editor by CHR Chair Martin Chalfie and CHR Director Rebecca Everly, highlighting the CHR’s resources for promoting human rights in science, engineering, and medicine. These resources were developed as part of a drive by national academies worldwide to integrate human rights activities into their work. We encourage you to browse these resources for information on how you can incorporate human rights into your existing work and to contact us if you have suggested additions to the resources.
January 3, 2019 YEAR IN NUMBERS Celebrating a Year of Achievements The protection of human rights is essential to the promotion of scientific inquiry and the realization of human dignity worldwide. To celebrate some of our achievements in 2018, the Committee on Human Rights (CHR) has produced a new infographic – CHR’s Year in Numbers. This work would not be possible without the support of members of the National Academies that serve as CHR Correspondents.
December 19, 2018 MEMBER spotlight CHR Chair Martin Chalfie Expresses Concern about Human Rights Abuses in Nicaragua On December 19, 2018, Nature published an article detailing the worrying crackdown on students, scientists, and other academics in Nicaragua. The crackdown began following widespread protests in response to proposed changes to the country’s social security system. The article quotes CHR Chair Martin Chalfie, who expressed the CHR’s deep concern regarding the “threats and violence against our colleagues and the apparent targeting of academic institutions”. Read more...
December 10, 2018 MEMBER spotlight CHR Chair and CHR Member among 121 Nobel Laureates Appealing for the Release of Iranian-Swedish Medical Doctor Ahmadreza Djalali 121 Nobel Laureates (including CHR Chair Martin Chalfie and CHR member Anthony Leggett) appealed to Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for assistance in the case of Iranian-Swedish medical doctor Ahmadreza Djalali. The letter, which can be read here, calls upon Ayatollah Khamenei to ensure that Dr. Djalali is treated humanely and is released as soon as possible. Read more...
November 2018 MEMBER SPOTLIGHT CHR Member and Other Johns Hopkins Health Professionals Assist HRW in Assessing Venezuelan Crisis To assess the effects of Venezuela's ongoing health crisis, CHR Committee member Dr. Chris Beyrer organized and supported a team of public health and medical professionals from Johns Hopkins University that joined researchers from Human Rights Watch (HRW) on a trip to Venezuela's borders. The team found outbreaks of previously well-controlled diseases, a stark increase in infant mortality rates, and severe malnutrition. For more information, read this interactive report on the team's findings and Dr. Beyrer's comment in The Lancet on infant mortality increases in Venezuela.
November 2018 web resources Launch of the CHR's Human Rights Web Resources To help facilitate the critical engagement of scientists, engineers, and health professionals on human rights issues, the CHR has developed a collection of web resources that provides information about how these groups can help safeguard human rights and the free exercise of scientific inquiry. The CHR’s web resources serve as an extension of the CHR’s “8 Things You Can Do to Promote Human Rights” poster, which you can download here.
September 2018 PROCEEDINGS in BRIEF CHR Issues Proceedings in Brief of its Symposium, Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict 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 – are outlined in the Proceedings of a Symposium—in Brief.
September 13, 2018 In MemoriAM In Memory of Dr. Martha Vaughan, Member Emerita of the Committee on Human Rights 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. 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. Read more.
June 2018 PUBLIC Statement 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 CHR stresses that the practice of separating parents from their children at the border is inconsistent with U.S. international human rights obligations. Read more.
April 2018 ANNUAL REPORT The CHR's Year in Review The CHR has had a busy and productive year, as demonstrated in our 2018 Annual Report. The report provides an overview of the CHR’s activities during the past year, including meetings/events to raise awareness of pressing issues concerning human rights and science and the use of new advocacy tools to support scientists, engineers, and health professionals suffering serious human rights abuses worldwide. Read the report.
February 13, 2018 FILM SCREENING CHR Represented at "Science in Exile" Film Screening and Panel Discussion Saint Mary’s University in Halifax hosted a film screening of The World Academy of Sciences’ (TWAS) new documentary, “Science in Exile”, which highlights the struggles faced by displaced scientists attempting to relocate and continue their work. Patricia Evers, Senior Program Officer for the CHR, joined the panel discussion that followed the screening. Read more.
December 18, 2017 FILM SCREENING NAM Hosts Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion on the Targeting of Health Professionals in Conflict Areas The National Academy of Medicine hosted a screening of an original documentary from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, titled The New Barbarianism. The screening was followed by a panel discussion and included Patricia Evers, Senior Program Officer at the CHR. Read more.
May 1, 2017 MEETING & VIDEO INTERVIEW New Tactics of Abuse: Digital Surveillance and Human Rights During the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Annual Meeting, the CHR held a breakfast briefing to highlight issues surrounding digital security and human rights. The meeting featured John Scott-Railton of The Citizen Lab, who spoke about the use of digital surveillance and technologies to target members of civil society worldwide. Read more and watch the video interview with Mr. Scott-Railton.
May 2017 speaker spotlight Collaborating on Human Rights Investigations: Fire Research and Forensic Science At the spring 2017 meeting of the CHR, Professor José Torero—the John L. Bryan Chair in Fire Protection Engineering and Director of the Center for Disaster Resilience at the University of Maryland—spoke to members about his efforts to help protect human rights through the investigation of several high-profile fires. Read more.
October 2016 H.R. Network meeting The International H.R. Network Holds its Twelfth Biennial Meeting in Panama City, Panama The twelfth biennial meeting of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network), for which CHR serves as Secretariat, was held from October 5-8, 2016 in Panama City, Panama. Representatives of 25 national scientific academies and scholarly societies from around the world were in attendance. The meeting included a symposium, Science and Human Rights: Navigating the Currents. View the programs for the symposium and student session, as well as photos of meeting participants.
September 9, 2016 h.r. nETWORK STATEMENT Executive Committee of the H.R. Network Issues Statement in Support of Turkish Academics The Executive Committee issued a public statement calling for the government of Turkey to ensure that all scholars who have been removed from their positions solely as a result of having peacefully exercised internationally protected rights are reinstated without delay and that no punitive measures are taken without procedural protections for the individuals concerned. Read more.
September 2016 speaker spotlight Exploring the Tensions between National Security and Academic Freedom During the Fall 2016 annual meeting of the NAS, Lisa Anderson, political scientist and former president of the American University in Cairo, spoke at a session convened by the CHR on academic freedom, human rights, and national security. Dr. Anderson's talk, published in Science Diplomacy, addressed global challenges to academic freedom and offered ways in which scientists can respond to such challenges.
August 2016 Case update Turkish Surgeon Mehmet Haberal Elected President of the Transplantation Society Turkish transplantation surgeon Mehmet Haberal has been elected head of the international Transplantation Society. Dr. Haberal, whose case was undertaken by the CHR following his unjust arrest in 2009, is an internationally respected transplantation surgeon. Read more.
July 29, 2016 ARTICLE After failed coup, Turkey's academics feel regime's wrath ScienceMagazine reports on the concern expressed by the global scientific community over the repressive measures being taken against Turkish academics following the attempted military coup on July 15. Martin Chalfie, Chair of the CHR commented on the situation, noting that “(p)rotecting national security should not be incompatible with safeguarding fundamental rule of law and human rights principles.” Read more.
July 25, 2016 H.R. Network Statement Executive Committee of the H.R. Network Issues Statement Concerning Repressive Measures against Turkish Academics Members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee have closely followed events in Turkey following the attempted military coup on July 15 and have called for the government of Turkey to ensure that all increasingly repressive measures taken against Turkish academics in the interest of security are consistent with Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law. See full statement.
January 2016 H.R. Network statement Global Scientific Community Expresses Alarm Concerning Repressive Measures Taken against Turkish Academics Members of the H.R. Network expressed alarmed, “by the increasingly repressive and inflammatory reaction by Turkish government leaders, many university officials, and other intolerant individuals toward hundreds of Turkish colleagues, solely because they publicly expressed humanitarian concerns about the grave crisis in south eastern Turkey.”
January 19, 2016 ARTICLE Turkish Academics Pay Price for Speaking Out on Kurds Martin Chalfie, Nobel Prize–winning chemist and Chair of the Committee on Human Rights speaks to Science Magazine about the crackdown against Turkish Academics. See article.
October 2015 speaker spotlights Health Professionals and Human Rights During the NAM Annual Meeting, Leonard Rubenstein, Director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict (Center for Public Health and Human Rights) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the DRC, spoke to NAM members about attacks against healthcare professionals globally and the importance of supporting the work of medical professionals in conflict zones. Watch video interviews with Dr. Mukwege and Mr. Rubenstein following the meeting.