This discussion was interrupted to move on to the next topic, but it was continued by Arnold Wolfendale (Academia Europaea) the following day when the meeting was reconvened. Wolfendale presented a draft of a statement that he and several other participants had prepared. After considerable discussion and a number of changes, the following statement was agreed upon and formally adopted.
The Network aims to put into practice the professional duty of scientists and scholars to assist those colleagues whose human rights have been—or are threatened to be—infringed and to promote and protect the independence of academies and scholarly societies worldwide.
The issue was raised as to whether evidence or criteria exist by which to judge the effectiveness of the Network’s interventions in a specific case. One participant asked: How do we evaluate whether a large number of faxes from individuals and academies to the president or the prime minister of a country in a given period of time are effective?
Noting that this question had often been raised, Wiesel acknowledged that providing direct evidence of one’s effectiveness is often difficult. “In science,” he said, “you do an experiment, you do this and that, and you expect to obtain a certain result. In the human rights field, it is much more complicated because...there are many factors involved and perhaps many other organizations working on the same case. But I never worry about evidence by which to evaluate our effectiveness, except that you do not want to behave foolishly. I think the procedures and interventions that have been developed by various organizations do not differ so much. I suppose that fact in itself would mean that there is some positive effect.”
Another participant added that everyone who has been personally involved in trying to help victims of human rights abuses knows that writing appeals makes a difference, although it does not necessarily mean the person is released from jail. “It might mean that the prisoner is allowed to receive his mail, or perhaps to read newspapers or receive books. In many cases it means that the government concerned will at least try to take enough care of the prisoners health so that he or she is not crippled for life. It is very important to let the authorities know that people abroad, important people, are watching.”
Corillon said that although it is difficult to judge success, in the experience of the CHR (Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine) there have been specific instances when the committee has been told directly that its