Strenghten human rights and ethics in science

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences engage at the interface between science and human rights through their «Delegate for Human Rights». Martina Caroni, Chair in International, Constitutional and Comparative Law at the University of Lucerne holds this function since 2017.

Protect the human rights of scientists

The Delegate takes appropriate action in cases of violations of the human rights of scholars due to their scientific work and she promotes the pertinence of human rights in science. The Delegate seeks cooperation with partners nationally (e.g. Scholars at Risk Swiss Section) and internationally (e.g. International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies).

Academic freedom

Academic freedom is a core principle that is critical for the conduct of science and its progress. It encompasses the engagement in scholarly practices and the exchange of scientific ideas without interference or suppression. Although guaranteed in several national constitutions and internationally, the rights associated with academic freedom are increasingly being encroached upon in recent years in different places and different ways. Seriously concerned about this tendency, the international conference  «Academic freedom: a universal right at stake!?» in December 2017 (Programme) addressed its implications at individual and institutional level as well as possible countermeasures.

Human right to science

Scientists are entitled to human rights – but people also have a right to scientific progress and its applications. The international conference in May 2015 (programme) addressed «The Human Right to Science» by taking the example of seed science and seed policy. Keynote speaker was Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur of the UN in the Field of Cultural Rights. Further documents:


Ethical and legal responsibility in international research

Internationally active researchers can be confronted with difficult ethical and legal questions – for example when cooperating with politically corrupt local structures, when working on projects funded from doubtful financial resources or when collaborating with researchers in countries imposed to international sanctions. Based on a report of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, this workshop in April 2016 (programme) addressed the responsibility by means of specific case examples.

Private funding in science

The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences had the lead in drafting the statement of the All European Academies (ALLEA) on private funding in the scientific enterprise (2015) as part of their engagement in the ALLEA Working Group «Science and Ethics». This contribution was based on insights from the workshop «Das Spannungsverhältnis von Wissenschaft und Industrie am Beispiel des Sponsoring von Lehrstühlen» that the Swiss Academies held in 2012.

Members of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences

Centres of Excellence

Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
House of Academies
Laupenstrasse 7
P.O. Box
3001 Bern

Phone +41 (0)31 306 92 20