INES COUNCIL MEETING
( Dortmund 17-19 June 1994)
resolution on the Cairo International Workshop project "Science, engineering and development: regional experiences and alternatives"
What could be done by INES to face unequal development global challenges?
In its Dortmund meeting of June 1994, the INES Council has decided to carry on the work already initiated through the network procedure of study groups, under the general coordination of the Steering Committee.The 1995 meeting will then be an occasion to present and discuss the work done by means of this procedure.Further, the Council agreed on the method and the basic principles which were proposed by M. Ollivier and A. M. Cetto to serve as initial guidelines for this debate. The Council motion is presented hereafter:
- 1/ The first difficulty is to find the right way to present INES proposals. What could be the specific approach of INES' members confronted with this enormous and complex question of unequal development ?
We have tried to define this specificity in the "statement of intent" which appeared in the first announcement of the Cairo conference, where reference was made of INES' founding statement. But we did not clarify in this text our ideas about the role of scientists and engineers in societies' reactions to this challenging problem. Therefore, the debates and recommendations of the Cairo workshop should be clearly situated in a twofold context by a general statement on scientists and engineers responsibilities:
- a/ The context of the general public debate on the notion of "sustainable development", which was introduced in the Brundtland report, and stands as a reference notion in all discussions about development problems, even if its contents are far from clear and precise.
Thus, the Cairo workshop recommendations should place themselves, with a critical point of view, within the international debate on "sustainable development", alongside with many other projects and results of NGO's and institutions, like those of the Rio Earth Summit, of the International Council of Volonteer Agencies (Addid Ababa March 94), of the UN Conferences on Population and Development (Cairo September 94) or on Social Development (Copenhagen March 95), of the Women's World Conference (Beijing 1995), of the UN Sustainable Development Commission, etc. Our participation in these public general debates will help us to state precisely our positions and to get recognition of our specificity.
INES should stand clearly for supporting the movement initiated during the Rio Conference on both levels of intergovernmental conventions (on biodiversity and climate change) and NGOs cooperation (agenda 21 for a sustainable development and NGOs treaties) and for playing its own and specific role in this movement (criticizing for instance the lack of governmental actions after Rio).
- b/ The second context is the debate inside the scientific communities on the role and responsibilities of Science and Technology, of scientists and engineers, in the development processes.
This context has been characterized, in the time of the Rio Summit and afterwards, by worldwide public controversies through the Heidelberg appeal, counter appeals and declarations("Warning to Humanity " sponsored by UCS, "Appeal to reason for a planetary solidarity" initiated by Global Chance in France, etc...), which demonstrates that Scientism and Technocracy still represent important positions among scientists and engineers, even if strong contesting forces are appearing.
INES should therefore make clear that scientists and engineers cannot claim to play -as they very often did in the past and sometimes still do- the role of collective and universal guides for the mankind progress. The rejection of Scientism and Technocracy is necessary not only from a moralizing point of view, because they proved to have been used in the past as ideological frontage by totalitarian regimes, but also because they are not to be relied upon as the sole principle for sustaining the future of mankind: emotions, spirituality, cultural features are at least as decisive as scientific rationality in the process of human evolution. By contrast, scientists and engineers should modestly recognize that much more can be done to put their work to the service and benefit of humankind.
Finally such an introduction could help the Cairo workshop participants to prepare an "INES Charter for sustainable development" which would be used as reference criteria for testing the relevance of our actions and initiatives.
- 2/ Proposals
On the basis of this preliminary declaration, we could work out some proposals which have to be coherent with the above philosophical positions, and enable us to take part in the movement for a sustainable development, with our own specificity and means of action.
In fact, we are not in a position to actively support such and such technology, or such and such scientific theory. This domain of action is neverending and beyond our skills, as extensive as they can be. We would rather propose some ethical objectives as concrete guidelines for INES' members initiatives:
a - As the first priority, we suggest to reaffirm the central role of any directly concerned social groups in all the relevant actions meant to confront such a global and complex threat: peasants, industrial workers, young jobless people, women, and among them, of course, the organizations of scientists and engineers.
This means that we have to speak up not only for democracy and against human rights violations in every country, but also to support the efforts of these groups for organizing themselves and acting as builders of their own future. In our real world, massacres by dictatory armed forces, current practice of repression, torture, ban on trade-unions, cooperatives and professionnal organizations allow more often than not the worst effects of unequal development .
In particular, from this point of view, we have to support engineers and scientists agreeing with our aims all around the world and especially in the South. There are many ways to deal with this objective: encouraging close associations between laboratories; supporting common research programmes especially for young scientists; on an international North-South level organizing working groups with concrete objectives of action, etc...We have to find out concrete means to develop cooperation and solidarity among organizations of scientists and engineers of the North, the East and the South, on the basis of our common objectives.
INES has to develop strong links with UNESCO in launching such initiatives.
b- In the second place, we should recommend to strengthen scientific approaches of unequal development facts and for this:
- to increase the means for the observation and apprehension of unequal development phenomena, for the measurement of their extent, for the evaluation of their consequences and for the forecast of their evolution;
- to launch large research programmes aiming at a better understanding of these facts and strengthening the theories on mankind development processes, taking into account that these facts cannot be analysed as isolated phenomena, but as elements of a worldwide complex system (the ALENA scheme is a good example);
- - to criticize on a scientific basis and without compromise the false interpretations and doctrines about unequal development, like racism, fatalism, or complete ideological fabrication for the defence of specific interests and privileges;
- - to inform widely the scientific as well as the general public of the results of such works.
As part of this scientific effort, INES could also continue to favour large debates among scientists and engineers on the topics which will not be a subject of consensus in the Cairo workshop discussion. We could propose to create a special section of INES' newsletter with this end in view.
- c- We could propose to launch campaigns on some strategic problems if we succeed in achieving a large consensus on some important points in Cairo, like arms trade, debts paying off, energy saving, release of victimized scientists and engineers, etc...
- 3/ About INES structure
Finally, considering that it is necessary to keep the unequal development problem amoug INES concerns, we must try to give a significant place in the INES bodies to the organizations of Third World Scientists and Engineers and not only to individual members.
back to INES-DEV