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Starter Kit: Introduction

Helping Your Scientific Society Promote Human Rights: Introduction

Scientific associations are dedicated to the service of their members and the public. We believe that engagement in human rights activities will provide scientific associations an opportunity to meet their responsibilities to both groups. Indeed, many scientific associations already have incorporated human rights into their work. We also believe that scientific associations have valuable experience to share in setting up and sustaining human rights programs. For these reasons, we have developed this booklet for scientific associations. The purpose of the booklet is to build the commitment and capacity of scientific associations to engage meaningfully in human rights advocacy, including the application of their discipline’s tools and techniques to the realization of human rights.

The booklet first provides basic information about the relationship of human rights to the scientific enterprise, including a comprehensive set of reasons for scientists to be involved in human rights. Then some recommendations for first steps that scientific associations may take are provided, followed by some specific examples of the range of human rights-related activities in which scientific associations are currently engaged. The next section provides information about the Science and Human Rights Coalition (SHRC). A resources section provides information that will be useful to scientific associations with their many audiences, including leadership, members, and students. Lastly, the booklet provides a basic overview on human rights.

This booklet was initiated by the Service to the Scientific Community Working Group of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. We want to acknowledge the contribution of Mona Younis and Jessica Wyndham, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program staff, who produced the first draft, Lee Herring, former working group Co-Chair, and the members of the Working Group, the co-chairs of the other Coalition Working Groups, our co-workers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and American Sociological Association (ASA), and the Coalition steering committee who provided us with comments on the draft. Alyson Reed, Linguistic Society of America, provided crucial editing and rewriting to respond to feedback.

Clinton Anderson (APA) and Margaret Vitullo (ASA), Co-Chairs
AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition
Service to the Scientific Community Working Group