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Part 2 Human Rights, Human Needs, and Scientific Freedom INTRODUCTION Gilbert White The definition of torture, the identification of malpractice, and the suggestion of means, both individual and social, to cope with it is a complex process. In some sense, however, it is much easier to handle than other aspects of human rights violations. We turn now to concepts of human rights, civil and political rights, and how these are related to social and political and eco- nomic rights and needs. To do this, we intend to begin by exposing the situation in one country South Africa-which has been very much in our minds in recent years, as an arena in which there has been systematic discrimination against the great proportion of the population. Having heard from someone who has lived through this experi- ence of apartheid and has, himself, been a vigorous worker to bring about its modification, we will then hear from two active participants in the advancement of human rights at home and overseas. Professor Ismai! Mohamed is a member of one of those three groups in South Africa that account for 80 percent of the population, "colored," ~black," and "Asian." He was born in the community of the East Cape. He was, ~ believe, the first person from the colored ranks to attain the status of a lectureship in the University of Wit- watersrand and probably the first mathematician in any university in South Africa. He has maintained that status since, in a country in 39
no which hardly 10 percent of the faculty comes from all three of those majority groups discriminated against. He gives us an opportunity to sense a little of the complexity of coping with human rights violations when one is a victim of gross discrimination. Next, we will hear, as a discussant, from Robert Kates, a geog- rapher who has worked in overseas situations such as Tanzania on problems of how Tow-income people wrest, in the face of natural haz- ards, a harmonious relationship with the resources of the area. He was, as you have heard, first chairman of the Committee on Human Rights. Then we will hear from Walter Rosenblith, a physicist and com- munications engineer who became interested in the brain as a commu- nications system and who has studied its electrical activity through the use of computers and has been interested in communications on a much broader scale. Most recently, as vice president of the In- ternational Council of Scientific Unions, he has been concerned with how scientists collaborate with each other in the face of human rights · · · e c ~scr~rn~nat~on. I expect each member of the scientific group here today has encountered in her or his own experience the question of how we respond to the organization of a meeting of scientists in South Africa and how we respond to the notion of bringing a South African scien- tist to a meeting we organize elsewhere. Where do we take our stanc] in the face of what we regard as discrimination of a political or social or economic character? We hope these issues will be exposed in the following discussion in which you will join. First, Professor Ismai! Mohamed. APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA Ismail Mohamed Mr. President, members of the academy, and honored guests. It is an honor for me to be a guest speaker at this symposium on human rights at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. and my fellow oppressed in South Africa value your concern for us. We applaud your efforts to bring about a respect for human rights and a democratic society in our country. ~ tale this opportunity to thank the National Science Foundation and the City College of the City University of New York for financial _ O ~
41 support and the opportunity to spend my sabbatical there, as well as the hospitality of its Graduate Center. Our country faces serious social, political, and economic prob- lems, and we are mindful of your concern that a new society should emerge with the minimum possible upheavals in South Africa and beyond its borders. We dare not be deterred from attempting to re- solve these problems by the nationalist government's threats against democratic forces and the front-line states. Indeed, our people are more determined than ever to bring an end to apartheid, oppression, and economic exploitation and to create a nonracial, unfragmented, and democratic society in South Africa. am going to tell you a little bit of our struggle to understand the determination in the face of the mounting repression, what are the events and forces shaping that determination, and perhaps, then, briefly, in the light of those comments, ~ hope to discuss some of the issues that must concern this academy. Our struggle has been a peaceful one. First, against the humilia- tion of race and caste organization of our society, in which we occupy a position of inferiority. Second, to participate in the decision-making process to determine our own destiny and that of our country. Third, for the redistribution of the wealth of the land and, of course, for an unfragmented South Africa. In short, our struggle has been about the unacceptability of homelands. That struggle was met with repression and armed violence of the state. The state signaled by these acts that it was not prepared to resolve the social conflict outside the parameters of apartheid. Because that conflict could not be resolved on the political plane of the liberation struggle, that struggle was extended by the African National Congress to include armed struggle. While black workers are part of the liberation struggle, their sig- nificance has grown with time due to an expanding economy and the inability of industry and commerce to rely solely on white workers. The balance of forces on the factory shop floor and in the mines has dramatically shifted to black workers. The black workers' growing strength had its repercussions in the community and amongst the students who could now challenge the state's attempt to broaden its social base in order to preserve apartheid. We note particularly the growth of the United Democratic Front, which serves as a catalyst for the formation of opposition to apartheid at all levels of society.
42 The state's attempt to repress the growing opposition by de- tention, by bannings, and by killings has led to the Revolution of leadership to the grassroots. Within the United Democratic Front, its leadership is hauled in front of the courts to be charged with trea- son or they are detained without trial. Many have been assassinated and murdered and they are increasingly being replaced by leadership in the community-at-large, what ~ have called the grassroots. They are being replaced by people in the so-called "street com- mittees," in the defense committees, committees which have been set up to defend ourselves against the security forces of the state. In fact, we have reached a situation that all the peaceful democratic or- ganizations are forced to operate in some measure clandestinely and at the local level, and so new leadership is arising at the grassroots. When apartheid will fad! to be, the new government and new institutions will not rise phoenix-like; they are being created right now through those street committees and defense committees. In an attempt to stop these developments, the security forces have occupied the townships and the schools and have attempted to exterminate the exiles and external leadership. In so doing, they are ensuring the growth of an internal, revolutionary, armed leadership within South Africa. Because the problems leading to the strug- gle have not been resolved, opposition to Pretoria's rules will gain momentum until that system of apartheid is destroyed. You know that 20,000 women marched to Pretoria on the 9th of August in 1956 saying to then-Prime Minister Strij~om: "Strij~om, you have struck a rock, you have unearthed a boulder, you will be crushed." ~ can ted you today that boulder is reverberating throughout the townships in South African society and it is gaining momentum. In short, ~ am not overdramatizing when ~ say there is a war being waged in the streets of the townships in South Africa. With that kind of background to tell you, really, about what is it that drives people along, ~ want to turn now very briefly to the issues that must concern you. The concern of the oppressed people in South Africa about the decisions that we make, or you make, at aD the various levels confronting us is who wiD it help in that struggle that is being waged in the townships and the streets. Will it help those who rule over us or will it help us to liberate ourselves from that oppression? Let me turn to our role in the political struggle. ~ believe we must destroy the lie that government is engaged in an orderly change
when, as we know and ~ hope ~ have demonstrated, it is asking for a license to prolong apartheid and the exploitation of black people. We need to make clear that there is no possibility of resolving the social conflict within the parameters prescriber! by governments, the parameters of apartheid. In fact, we are being driven down the road of escalating violence and bloodshed. We need to educate others to the fact that there is not going to be peace in our country until Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, and all the other leaders in prison or in exile, people like Tambo, are released and allowed to return, the ANC unbanned and a national assembly convened to dismantle apartheid. Let me comment, also, very briefly on the scientific and cultural boycotts. While the vast mass of our youth are struggling to acquire rudimentary knowledge of reading and writing, the children of the rulers can reach out to an understanding of the universe, to the theories of an expanding universe and of black holes millions of light years away. While the vast mass of our youth lack the most elementary knowledge of health and hygiene they are the victims of disease, of malnutrition and poverty the children of the rulers can reach out to an understanding of the very basis of life, of DNA molecules and of genetic materials and of electrical and chemical messages in nerve endings. Those who wield this kind of knowledge use it as a weapon against those who do not have that knowledge. You know the rulers arrogantly proclaim these achievements of mankind as their own special achievement. We hear them speak of white art and of white literature and of white music and of white mathematics and of white science, thereby demolishing those who presumably have made no contribution to the achievements of mankind. ~ want to say that those who have stood aside from educational battles that are being fought in the schools and in the universities have helped those who use education to batter our children into sum mission. Therefore, the only meaningful question to ask in relation to participation by those in South African universities and academic institutions in international conferences and other forums is, Who will be helped in that war that ~ spoke about? You must clearly identify those struggling for liberation. It is not sufficient to claim, as some South Africans do when they come to international conferences, that they do not represent the South African government, that they, in their institutions, have from time to
44 time protested against apartheid in education, while at the same time ignoring flagrant discrimination against blacks in their universities, medical schools, research establishments, and other institutions. Their actions help to legitimize the South African system. These people often use apartheid as a shield to hide behind and white prejudice to hide behind as a means of maintaining the status quo and white privilege. We have to demand that they prove their role in that war of liberation. We should help set up international panels to set equal opportu- nities and affirmative action programs and targets and exarn~ne the credentials of those wishing to participate at the international level. think that is the first step that we need to take. Let me turn to the academic field at a broader level. For gener- ations, our black youth have cried out for the right to an education that will enable them to take their place in the ranks of the free youth of the world, so that they may determine their own destiny and that of our country. They have battled for a system of education in which their values and their ideals are not treated as inferior and of no consequence. They found that the universities were closed to them, except in token numbers, first by tradition and the prejudice of white academics, by exorbitant fees and the lack of residential accommodation within those universities or surrounding towns, and later by legislation. On the other end, their white counterparts were given every assistance to get into universities and qualify themselves to enter the ranks of those who rule over them. In recent years, the so- called Open universities" have adopted a more enlightened view, motivated partly by the shortage of white academics. Because of the international Isolation of South African universities, more blacks have been appointed to academic positions. We have heard the annual reaffirmations of the ideals of aca- demic freedom and opposition to apartheid in university education. As we have heard, the protests from time to time, as the police came, battering our students on various campuses, but we have not heard them about the racism in these institutions, the lack of appoint- ments of blacks to positions in the governing councils or meaningful programs of recruiting black staff. We are concerned about the silence on the crisis in black edu- cation. We must not forget the racism that lurks in the corners to frustrate black advancement. So, here, too, in this area, we need to
45 set up positive measures. ~ am suggesting panels to investigate that situation. To tell you about the racism that lurks in corners, a deputy vice-chancellor once wrote to me (vice-chancellor is equivalent to a president or vice-president of a college), "One can see that to appoint you in a permanent position of authority over white students and junior white staff would be to wound the very heart of Baasskap White supremacy] and that there are limits to which we can go to offend a government." In short, he was saying, ewe cannot appoint you." Or, as one head of a department once wrote to me, "they imean- ing the university administration] would require the appointment tof myself] to be strongly motivated in the sense that ~ should have to guarantee that certain topics, presumably at honors and research level, could not be taught by anyone else available." The mind bog- gles at such bigotry and prejudice that still lurk in too many corners. But ~ think it reinforces the view of a selective academic boycott while helping them to set their house in order. Now, the crimes of apartheid are many, and ~ cannot go through them all. Perhaps just to give you a little bit of an insight into the trauma of the lives of people in South Africa, ~ am going to tell you very briefly of my own, not because we epitomize in any sort of way the frustration of our people, but perhaps, on the contrary, because we, ~ anti my family, live rather middIe-cIass lives. If I tell you a little bit of my experience, then you might appre- ciate the depth of what the people who do not have access to the international community must go through. In 1976 I was detained without charge or trial, and when ~ was thrown into that cell at Caledon Square in Cape Town, I learned from the children in the cell next door, 11-year-olds, that the strips of blankets that were hanging from the corner of my cell is where they had found Story Mazwembe, a political detainee, apparently having committed suicide a few days earlier. A few days later, ~ was transferred to a maximum security prison and there ~ met Story's brother, and he had to learn from me what had happened. I shall never forget the morning of July 30, 1980, when we discovered that our l~year-old son had fled the country to escape police harassment. That morning ~ had to go and teach my students, by far and large mostly white young students, 1~ and 18-year-old boys, without betraying to them what was stirring inside me.
46 You know, we received the message, as so many parents do, and we know they are inspired by the police, that our son was killed on the borders. But, two years later, we learned from friends that they had seen an interview with him on Dutch television, but we have not seen him since that July in 1980. We remember how our 20~year-old daughter was taken in the middle of the night by the security police and how we searched for months to try to find out where she was held in solitary confinement. My wife has been arrested for protesting against detention without charge or trial. We have seen the suffering of our younger daughter who was held under the state of emergency and for whom we had to seek psychological help. ~ can remember the shock on the faces of my 1~ and 12-year-old children when the police came in the middle of the night to arrest me for treason. Those two children have experienced what thousands of other children live through every day, seeing armed police invading their homes and holding them, 1~ and 11-year-olds, at the point of a gun. How can we ever forget our colleagues who have been assas- sinated and murdered? ~ mention a few names quickly: Griffith Mxenge and his wife, our attorney, Victoria. ~ mention my friends that ~ worked with, Dr. and Mrs. Ribeirro, Norman Manuphotho, the parents of my coaccused Thozamile Gqweta, whose shack was locked and set alight while they were inside. These are the monstrous deeds of apartheid. On December 19 we were told, while we were out, that we should not return home. In the middle of the night we went sneaking into our home and collected some of our clothes, because it seemed clear that I was no longer safe there, and we left South Africa on December 20, 1986. Thank you. COMMENTS Robert W. liates It Is difficult to follow that recitation. It also brings back our own history here. When you were arrested in 1976, our committee had just begun its work. We had just been through a very difficult period of trying to decide how to proceed, what kinds of cases, there was so much injustice, so much torture, so many terrible things happening in the world. Whom should we defend? Should we defend only
4/ scientists? Didn't shoemakers have as many rights as scientists for defense? All these questions, so difficult to try to sort out. Then we learned of your case and it helped to crystallize and make our task easier, and it set us on the road that we have continued on to this day. We have never met before, until a little while ago. It is a very special occasion to be on the program with you. It was also soon after that time, in 1978, in trying to defend the role of the committee against some of the criticism that we had re- ceived, particularly from the Third World and from Eastern Europe, writing on behalf of the Committee on Human Rights in Science magazine, ~ described a serious flaw in Western efforts to enhance human rights and one repeatedly emphasized by those sceptical of our role and our moral stance. ~ cited several examples of this cri- tique, one of which, almost 10 years later, could easily still be written today. The then-Iranian representative to the World Bank wrote in The New York Times: In spite of some 30 years of debate over this complex issue Human rights] in the United Nations, American and Western libertarian philosophy still regards 'human rights' in a very narrow context: as essentially political, universal, and timeless. But as far as the third world is concerned they are largely one-sided, passive and abstract. They redect political rights for the redress of grievances, personal immunity from unlawful or unnecessary search and seizure, habeus corpus privileges, due process of law for incarceration or imposition of fines, the absence of cruel and inhuman punishment, and a host of other individual freedoms of action. But they are silent about the society obligation toward the individual; they say little about the right to employment, the right to obtain a meaningful education, the right to enjoy a minimum of life's amenities. These 'active' and 'positive' sides (that is, society's obligations) are either ignored or considered as secondary in the roster of Western 'human rights.'i2 Today, at this celebration of the steadfast and persistent academy effort to free the imprisoned and to alleviate the plight of the perse- cuted, we are still as distant from confronting rights to life as well as rights to liberty. It has never been better said: i2Jahangir Amuzegar, Wrights and Wrongs, The Now York Times, January 29, 1978, Section IV, p. 17.
so We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. And that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted some 172 years later, would also declare that "everyone has the right to life . . .~ (Article 3) and that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services (Article 25, par. 1) is little satisfaction for how long we have failed to equalize the emphasis on life as well as liberty. This is not to say that the pursuit of or the right to work should be equated today in this country with the right to r~revent abortion or to refuse to pay union dues. ~. There is of course one set of rights to life that are honored with deep concern in the Western world. On the individual level, this is the literal right to life, the most prominent concern being with capital punishment. Few Americans realize how rare in the West is our national acceptance of capital punishment until a country such as Germany refuses to extradite a terrorist unless we promise not to ask for the death penalty. This concern with the sanctity of life is amplified in the great efforts to stave off the nuclear holocaust and to sustain life on earth. But setting aside these notable examples, for this discussion, ~ pose the contrast between rights of life and rights of liberty as the contrast between social and economic rights and civil and political ones. ~ have neither the tune nor possess the scholarship to speculate on how the trinity of rights became so narrowed, although ~ would welcome your thoughts on this point. Rather, ~ want to explore how we in the West, and particularly we scientists, may begin to redress the historic balance. In so doing, ~ will try to illustrate some of the difficulties in choosing which rights to life to assert, and then conclude with a suggestion for a modest beginning. In the developed world, in industrialized countries, in both East and West, a starting point for rights to life as opposed to rights to liberty usually begins with rights to health, welfare, and employment. In a rough approximation, there appears to be a preference order between health, welfare, and employment. And in particular there is almost a trade-off between welfare and employment as welfare becomes more generous and assured, unemployment has become more acceptable.
~ - The normality of what constitutes acceptable unemployment continues to edge upwards, not only in the United States but also even more dramatically in Western Europe, and just recently in Japan. While in the socialist world, where there is great pride in the priority given to the right to work, the heavy burden of providing the right, indeed the duty to work, has led to a vast apparatus of make- work jobs and low productivity, combined with moonlighting and an expanding underground economy. Thus, in industrialized societies of both West and East, the debate as to basic rights, stripped of their rhetoric, often appears as a debate about means relative levels and ways of implementation-rather than of the ends, themselves. ~ might note still another complication in affirming rights to life as well as liberty, there is the interaction between them. In both the industrialized Soviet Union and developing China, efforts to improve economic development appear to be slowed by the absence of at least some political rights. Ironically, this seems especially so in centrally planned societies where market signals are frequently absent. Recent experience has shown that economic development in market-dominated societies may happily coexist with authoritarian regimes, as, for example, in South Korea, Taiwan, or Brazil under the military. But if we would begin to address basic social and economic rights, it is the crise de conscience of the Third World that ~ find most compelling, just as in asserting civil and political rights we ithe Committee on Human Rights] found the plight of the imprisoned most compelling, despite many other existing injustices. To illustrate let me draw from my own concern with hunger. In the latest authoritative effort to describe hunger in Amer- ica, the Physician's Task Force estimated in 1985 that there were approximately 20 million hungry Americans, of whom 75 percent live below the poverty line (8 percent of the population) and receive no supplemental food stamp benefits. The poverty line used to de- fine hunger in this study was set at $10-for a family of four. Let me compare this to a recently published study from Kenya which, although using decade-old data, well illustrates a fundamental dif- ference. There, among the smallholder farm community (70 percent of Kenya's population) almost 40 percent fell below the poverty line, defined as caloric need for energy, with a comparable income for a family of seven of $310. But while the enormous differences in poverty and sustenance suggest that the assertion of rights to life might well begin with
- - the poorest of the poor, even the best-intentioned will find some confusion in assertions of which rights to claim as fundamental. One might begin with the basic human needs framework, on occasion popular among aid givers and specialized UN agencies, if less so among the underdeveloped countries themselves. The lists of needs sometimes vary, but water, food, shelter, health and education are found on most of them. Which of these would qualify as human rights? The right to water, YES; to food, YES; to shelter, YES; to health, YES; but to education, maybe. For those of us who were given the mandate of the academy to organize an appropriate effort on human rights a decade ago, this painful moral selectivity in the face of enormous injustice and need is reminiscent of our early struggles to selectively focus our own modest efforts on where they were to be most effective and most needed. Our policy then frustrated, and still continues to frustrate, even some of our own members who are deeply committed to other human rights issues beyond the fate of the imprisoned that we chose to focus on. Nonetheless, our policy has been effective and it was a beginning. Today, ~ suggest another modest beginning, to assert the right of all of human kind to be free from hunger. ~ do so for four reasons. Food sufficiency is an objective human need, undeniably necessary to the right to life. Freedom from hunger is a right whose time has come. The persistence of hunger in a world of plenty is unnecessary and an affront to conscience as well as creativity. And ending hunger is one of the most ancient and sustained applications of science and technology. For the specialists in nutrition and economics, perhaps for the members of our own Food and Nutrition Board, the quantification of hunger is always in doubt. Nonetheless, that there are somewhere between half a billion to a billion-plus hungry people in the world is widely accepted. And within a 25 percent variance, the standard need for energy and protein for growth and activity is well recog- nized. Indeed it has been so for mania, as the rations adopted in Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago fit well the current standards of FAD-WHO diets for the Near East. One way of describing the history and prehistory of humankind is in terms of its definition and extension of "kind." With many fits and starts and great retreats, over time our concept of whom we define as human, as similar to us, as brother to keep, expands. It does so sometimes in surprising ways as we link hands across America or rock for Africans on Chinese television. In retrospect, these recent
~1 expressions may prove to be just more fits and starts, but ~ prefer to think of them as harbingers of a popular consensus to end hunger, to see hungry Africans or landless South Asians as an extension of our kind, a consensus and an extension that must underlie all assertions of universal rights. There is no more profound nor poignant paradox than the per- sistence of hunger in a world of plenty. To know that there may be as many as a billion hungry people in the world is deeply troubling and frustrating, when, at the same time, mountains of butter in Europe and overflowing granaries in North America threaten the agricultural economy of the industrialized world. Thus, the persistence of hunger is an affront to our conscience and a deep challenge to our science. To free the world from hunger, not only for the five billion now, but also for the ten billion of the future, will call for our conscience and for our creativity. We will need the best of our science, not merely in the obvious applications of technology to productivity, but even more importantly in the social understanding of how to increase productivity without increasing the misery of the needy. We will also need to know how to sustain agriculture and to distribute its products in that crowded, warmer world toward which we move. It is no easier now to know how to begin confronting hunger than it was 10 years ago to confront torture and imprisonment. Perhaps we might begin with the extremes. In a modest way, we might speak out when people, particularly civilian populations, are intentionally deprived of food, usually in the midst of conflict, held as hostage to their hunger to press for an advantage or to punish for their allegiance. There are far too many recent examples, whether they be refugee camps in Lebanon, disputed provinces in Ethiopia, mined harbors in Nicaragua, or scorched fields in Afghanistan. As a second step, we can encourage adherence to and U.S. rati- fication of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, with its twin rights to both adequate food and the "rights of everyone to be free from hunger" (Article 11~. This covenant has been ratified by 88 nations. (While the United States has signed this covenant as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has ratified neither.) At the same time, and for more lasting impact, we can examine our own science and our own activities in the National Research Council. If we do so, in a searching way, ~ am sure that we will find a great deal of complexity and conflicting opinions as to how to end hunger and even some questions as to whether we are part of .
the problem or the solution, as well as new opportunities to bring together the disparate activities of the National Research Council, currently parceled out under agriculture, development, population, nutrition, and the like. None of these initial acts may prove satisfactory, neither as- suaging our conscience nor tapping our creativity. ~ am not overly troubled by this prospect. If we have learned anything in the last 10 years, it is that there is not really efficacious response to enormous evil or injustice, but only the lighting of candies rather that the curs- ing of the darkness. It will be enough if we begin to think and then learn to act as if human rights don't end with liberty, but begin with it. COMM1 :NTS Walter Rosenblith I am not telling you anything when ~ tell you that ~ find it difficult to follow Professor Mohamed's moving account and Professor Kates's look to the future of universal rights and the role that the academy should and needs to play in that regard. Maybe ~ should spare you altogether my remarks and let you address my two colleagues, but which professor has ever been able to do this? (Laughter) The National Academy of Sciences is a symbol of the interna- tional nature and character of science. One-fifth, at least, of its membership was born, as we call it today, "offshore. (Laughter) The annual meeting has, in the past four years, started with a symposium of a day and a half on issues of nuclear war and arms control. So it was last Saturday and Sunday. The topic dealt with the issues of the day, with the problems and the hopes for potential deep cuts in nuclear weapons arrays. These issues, like those of human rights, are not issues in which benefits of the moral behavior of scientists can be easily quantified in cost/benefit terms. They are more in what our forebears might have called the nature of a tithe, of an ethical imperative. We owe it to the people who live with these issues and Professor Mohamed has demonstrated that most vividly not to scatter our shots and to be
as as effective as we can be with respect to this epidemic, because it is . - an epl' emlc. We should find ways, and that is probably the most difficult thing for a body such as the academy and I speak not only to members, but also to our guests to find ways to not be satisfied with high-sounding declarations. ~ think what this committee has evolved over the last 10 years is a modus operandi, a way of involving itself in issues where the outcome is in some ways like those in research, uncertain, and yet the members of the committee and the thousand-odd (and some of them are very odd, like myself) correspondents contribute not as professionals but as semi-amateurs, semi-pros. But they contribute because there is a kin of coDeagueship that science uniquely brings about. Our colleague, Professor Mohamed, has drawn for us the horrible crimes of repression, of apartheid. In particular, ~ have been impressed with the fact that the overwhelming majority of the young has no access to the education that will allow them to become involved meaningfully in the life of the mind, of which science is a part. He has brought us up short by asking us the uncomfortable question, What does scientific or academic freedom mean in a racist society? Or, for that matter, in societies in which minorities or even majorities, even South Africa, or in many countries, women, are being exclucled in a most basic and radical way from the very institutions in which science lives and flourishes as one of the exquisite endeavors of humankind. We do not need to remind ourselves, especially after what my colleague, Professor Kates, has said, of what people call the basic human needs. But if we as an academy look towards the role that science and technology is playing in changing the human environ- ment, in changing the globe, in changing our society, can we omit the right to education both as a human need and as a human right? Can we find, as the committee has over the past decade, a way of asserting our impact, whatever it be, in that area? ~ am not arguing, obviously, against what you said. Obviously, this is not the occasion to discuss the history and the alternate strategies and tactics that human rights advocates have developed in defense of those colleagues whose human rights have been violated. And we must defend those colleagues. Who defends those who do not have the right to become colleagues? That seems to me a question that is perhaps pedagogical, others might say political, and
yet ~ do think that severe repression (and we have heard it) is not just imprisonment, is not just torture, is not just internal exile, is not just disappearance, but is also the fact that you do not have the opportunity to learn. ~ am a physicist and therefore not really qualified to speak about that, but to me, the human curiosity, if not satisfied, is a very basic neglected human need. So, ~ think if you ask this question, you have to ask yourself, have we, as a scientific community, spent enough effort in understanding its importance? These are days in which we have been overjoyed that Professor Sakharov is back in Moscow. We should not forget that he wrote, in 1968, a book that is not read as much as it deserves to be. In Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freediom, he says: "Intellectual freedom is essential to human society, freedom to obtain and distribute information, freedom for openminded and unfearing debate, and freedom from pressure by officialdom and prejudices." There are some political overtones in that statement. (Laughter) But, basically, it addresses the issue. Only a short five years ago, Sakharov said something about the worldwide character of the scientific community assuming particular importance when dealing with problems of human rights. "By its international defense of persecuted scientists, of all people whose rights have been violated, the scientific community confirms its international mandate, which is so essential for successful scientific work and for service to society. Well, our scientific societies, be they national ones or be they international ones, come in contact with these issues all the time and especially at the present time the International Council of Scientific Unions is trying to come to some formulation that will take into account some of the things that Professor Mohamed has mentioned. So, ~ am saying nothing new to you; ~ have a message that is much less polemical, perhaps, but ~ hope that it fits in with what my two colleagues have to say. Thank you. COMMENTS [ipman Bers The human rights movement is sometimes accused of taking a parochial, purely "Western" approach, stressing "politically rights, like freedom of speech or freedom from arbitrary arrest and from
as torture, and neglecting "social" rights, like the rights to medical care, to education, and to a job. Without denying the importance of ~social" rights, ~ consider the criticism unjustified. A demand that a government stop torturing political prisoners can be fulfilled relatively simply. A demand that a government provide a job to every citizen is meaningless without a reasonable plan of how such a goal can be accomplished. The human rights movement cannot be expected to develop such a plan or to unite on one. Also, historical experience shows that a government that justifies its curtailment of political rights by its overwhelming concern for social rights usually ends up by denying all rights. Finally, ~ consider the idea that people of the Third World are somehow less appalled by torture or by government-sponsored murder than citizens of developed nations to be rank racism. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Gilbert White We have heard a simple, eloquent portrayal of the life of a scientist and his family and we have had a challenge of an extension of our work in the broad reaLrn of human rights. Now, would any of you care to comment on what has been said by way of analysis or prescription? I`iprn~n Bers ~ know it is late and ~ agree with most of the things which were said today. ~ would like to make one observation concerning the question raised by Bob Kates about two different kinds of human . rights, which ~ could call negative and positive rights. The right to food, to a job, to medical care, and to education are positive rights. The right not to be arbitrarily arrested, not to be tortured, not to be exiled, not to be killed for one's opinions are negative rights. The discussion about the positive and negative rights and their relative importance occupied pages and pages in the socialist literature of the nineteenth century. As an old social democrat ~ would say an old Marxist, if the word would not have been vulgarized-~ certainly recognize the im- portance of positive rights. Yet ~ think there is a good reason why the international human rights movement, of which our committee is
an a small part, concentrated on negative rights. It makes sense to tell a government, "Stop torturing people." An order by the prime minister or the president or whoever is in charge could make it happen. It makes sense to tell a foreign ambassador that, "The American scientific community is outraged that you keep Dr. X in jail. Let him out and let him do his work." It requires no planning, no political philosophy, and it can unite people with very different opinions. It is quite a different matter to tell a foreign government, say to a government of a developing country, "You really should give this or that positive right to your people." If we make such a demand in good faith, it must be accompanied by some plan for implementing this right and by some indication of the cost and of who will pay it and how it will be paicI. These are important questions that have to be discussed, but ~ think it is rather unlikely that the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences (or even Amnesty International) will solve social problems that have bothered humanity and political thinkers for centuries, and that the human rights movement will unite on a proposed solution. Therefore, ~ think that the basic emphasis on negative rights by the international human rights movement is a reasonable thing. If we want to do things beyond this and participate in organizing a social democratic party in America, ~ will gladly discuss this later. (Laughter) Gilbert White ~ am not giving the pane] a chance to respond to that appeal just yet. (Laughter) Preston Cloud, University of California, Santa Barbara ~ would not presume to add to the words of wisdom that have already been spoken, but ~ have some questions that ~ would like to address to Dr. Mohamed and Dr. Kates. ~ think it must be saying something that Dr. Mohamed is a member of the faculty of the University of Witwatersrand. Gilbert White At least he was when he left.
a 1 Preston Cloud Is there anyone in your capacity, for instance, at an Afrikaans university? What ~ am getting at Is whether you would care to enlighten us a little on the differences between the two white groups in South Africa and what they stand for. Then, Dr. Kates, ~ would ask, must we stand still for a doubling of population? Curia;] Mohamed ~ can answer very briefly that there ~ a major difference between universities like Witwatersrand and Cape Town, on the one hand, and universities like Stellenbosch and Rand Afrikaans, on the other hand. At these latter universities, which are basically Afrikaner institutions, they did not admit black students or black staff. Black students are now accepted at postgraduate levels. But this does not mean to say that universities like the University of Witwatersrand are therefore totally enlightened. ~ am going to use what the minister of education said when a law was introduced that the universities will not significantly deviate from their present student numbers which came about when they could not force the university to operate a quota system: "We will not enforce the quota system, because these universities have undertaken not to deviate significantly from the existing student numbers." This means in which blacks will not exceed 10 percent of the student body, when they do exceed 80 percent of the population. Gilbert White Do you have a quick response to his second question? Robert hates Yes. One way to prevent doubling of population is to stand still. (Laughter) Elizabeth Russell, Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine ~ would like to inquire of Dr. Mohamed whether it is still true, as stated in our program, that you are speaking within the limits of South African government restrictions?
Ismai! Mohamed ~ wait try to answer very quickly. At the tune when ~ came here, or before ~ came here, the restriction was placed on me not to participate in various kinds of activities. ~ entertained every idea to get back home, knowing, in fact, that there is a penalty of 10 years' imprisonment if ~ should call upon you to act in any kind of way against apartheid. For example, ~ may not urge you to adopt sanctions. But ~ think the situation has moved to such an extent in South Africa where those people very clearly want me to say we applaud you for the sanctions that you implemented and we urge you to clo even more. So, it is very clear that ~ have deviated from that initial statement that ~ will not go beyond the restrictions imposed on me by the South African government. More and more people are defying those restrictions. Gilbert White But ~ think ~ may be privileged to add, Professor Mohamed, that you say this without knowing where you will be next. Yes? IsmaB Mohamed I do not think it would be wise on my part, really, to speculate on the consequences and where ~ would be next at this time. Time will tell. Edward Anders, University of Chicago Your institution, the University of Witwatersrand, has a very strong and impressive statement on its letterhead saying that it does not discriminate on the grounds of race. In the light of your reply to Preston Cloud, it seems that perhaps this statement should not be taken at face value. What would your advice be to those of us who occasionally get invitations from the University of Witwatersrand? Should we accept or reject them? Ismai] Mohamed ~ think ~ have said to you that the statement ~ have quoted- that ~ could not be appointed to a position of authority over white
students and junior white lecturers-comes from the vice-chancellor of the University of Witwatersrand. The statement that ~ could not be appointed to teach certain courses, or ~ could only be appointed to teach certain courses if the head of the department could determine that nobody else with simular expertise was available also comes from the head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand. It is true that the university has moved a long way from the stance it had taken in the 1960~. But ~ think it has not moved in step with the changes that blacks fee! need to take place. ~ am therefore urging people to bring pressure to bear on those institutions for affirmative action programs. My answer is very clear, you see. Unless the universities will admit blacks into their governing bodies or be more positive about admitting them as students and staff, ~ would urge people not to go to such institutions. Gilbert White Friends, I think we could pursue this much further and I am sorry to be obliged to close oh the discussion here. Please join me in thanking Professor Mohamed and the panel.