Throughout its 158-year history, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has stressed the importance of safeguarding free and open communication among scientists. The fundamental value of the international exchange of scholars and freedom of expression is embodied in international human rights treaties and conventions as well as in declarations adopted by scientific and other professional organizations throughout the world.
Last year the AAAS Board of Directors declared its opposition to the resolution adopted by the British Association of University Teachers that called on its members to “refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, or joint projects” with two universities in Israel. That resolution was subsequently repealed. This year, another UK organization, NATFHE (the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) is considering a motion for a similar boycott. We urge NATFHE to withdraw this motion. As we did last year, we join with other organizations in condemning this proposed boycott as antithetical to the positive role of free scientific inquiry in improving the lives of all citizens of the world, and in promoting cooperation among nations, despite political differences. In the context of the highly charged atmosphere of the Middle East, it is crucial to keep channels of communication open in order to foster a dialogue that is inclusive of all affected people. Free scientific inquiry and associated international collaborations should not be compromised in order to advance a political agenda unrelated to scientific and scholarly matters.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the international journal, Science. AAAS was founded in 1848. It has 125,000 individual members and 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals worldwide.