The forthcoming biennial meeting of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (Network) will for the first time in its 14-year history, be held in a developing country - Sri Lanka.
From April 4-6, 2007, the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka will host this event. The meeting will give participants an opportunity not only to meet each other informally between and after sessions, but also to visit places of historical and geographical interest. The forthcoming biennial meeting is the first to be hosted by an academy outside the US and Europe and reflects the desire of the Network to reach out to and better appreciate and understand the circumstances affecting academics in developing countries.
The meeting promises to be informative and stimulating as scientists, scholars and intellectuals from academies around the world, including the Royal Societies of England and Sweden, The National Academy of Sciences of the United States and equivalent bodies from many countries on most continents get together. Participants will include distinguished scientists, including Nobel Laureates, jurists, and others who will engage in discussion of how we, an increasingly strong and cohesive Network, can most constructively defend and protect our colleagues who become victims of repression. Many fellows of the Sri Lanka National Academy of Sciences are expected to attend the sessions.
When the Network was created in 1993, there were many unjustly imprisoned colleagues around the world, but only four academies had human rights committees. Now, 38 more academies have either created such committees or their presidents act directly in the name of their academies on Network cases and issues.
We have helped to ameliorate the situations of our less fortunate colleagues and worked to gain their outright release through private appeals to governments, petitions to UNESCO and occasional public statements. In the years since the Network was created, more than 1,564 appeals have been sent by affiliated academies.
n addition to individual cases, there is also an increasing number of important science and human rights issues that academies address and influence through the Network.