Haaland – I think the Executive Committee has a certain amount of autonomy relative to the individual members. If you have a clear majority, you are not bound to satisfy every national affiliate.
John Eckert, German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina – First, I think it is generally agreed that this Network should take care of the individual scientists or individuals in the academic field who are in trouble. Second, I think the Network should continue to support and enhance international scientific cooperation, as it was done in the case of Israel and Palestine, especially groups that are in political conflict. There may be other examples in which the Network could be active—China and Taiwan, even Korea, and other areas. In this connection, I would like to say that the Leopoldina had a long-lasting experience in bridging east and west when Germany was divided. The Leopoldina was the only institution that had a high degree of independence in East Germany. Therefore, people from western countries could be invited or international scientists could be invited, and this was a very important bridge for science at this difficult time during the separation of the country.
This group has discussed that the Network should be involved in issues like genetic manipulation and human rights and similar [human rights-related] issues. I think these issues are so complicated and so difficult that they should be dealt with by the national academies. This is already being done, and we would not be able to cover all these issues adequately. The last point I would make is that after each meeting there should be a summary of the points of discussion, the results, and conclusions that could be taken home and distributed to the media. Having a summary of some common points would help to disseminate more information about the Network.
Juha Sihvola, Finnish Delegation of Scientific and Scholarly Societies – This is the first time for me in this Network, and I’ve been very excited about what I have experienced. To a large extent, I agree with the previous speakers, especially my Norwegian colleague. I think there are at least three possible activities for this kind of Network. One is concrete cases, assisting individual scientists and intellectuals and so on. Of course, even in that activity, making distinctions in what kind of cases should be covered may be difficult. That is a very important core area of activity.
Another activity is promoting, in principle, peaceful solutions to international conflicts, like the activities related to Israel and Palestine. I would also gladly support this aspect, which is very important and would probably get good results.
The third aspect is related to principles of human rights, which, as we have seen, is a pretty complicated issue, even if we restrict the notion of human rights in a narrow way, for example, as Lord Dahrendorf did in his very excellent talk. Human rights is a much wider issue—social rights, cultural rights, and even so-called bio-rights related to biotechnology and stem cell research and that kind of thing. It might become too complicated for the Network to extend its activities to all these area. But because this Network has very high-level participants, drawing together institutions and prominent people from all over the world and in all academic fields, it is very important to also discuss theoretical difficulties in the protection of human rights. It looks very different not only from different countries, but also depending on your view