Freedom of scientific research is required by democracy, is a basic civil and political right and is one of the main guarantors of human health and welfare.
Freedom of scientific research is part of the fabric of democratic theory because all democracies are founded upon the value of the individual, individual choice and upon the premise that one of the first and most important functions of democratic government is to preserve and promote the liberty of citizens and to do no harm. That liberty includes freedom of thought and freedom of belief.
Freedom of scientific research is a basic civil and political right because it is a dimension of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
Freedom of scientific research is one of the main guarantors of human health and welfare for three main reasons. The first is because scientific freedom has produced some of the principal discoveries that have lead to increases in health and longevity worldwide. Secondly, we have all benefited directly and indirectly from scientific discovery. We all benefit from living in a society and, indeed, in a world in which serious scientific research is carried out which utilises the benefits of past research. We all also benefit from the knowledge that research is ongoing into diseases or conditions from which we do not currently suffer but to which we may one day succumb. It makes us feel more secure and gives us hope for the future, for ourselves and our descendants, and others for whom we care. Almost everyone now living, certainly everyone born in high income industrialised societies, has benefited from the fruits of past research and it is scientific research that will discover ways of combating new dangers, which constantly arise. Finally, in the domain of human health, medical needs are seldom simply that. They are often also opportunities to go on living or to be free; free of pain, free or more free in the sense of being mobile or more mobile, more able to effectively operate in the world. Health is important not simply because we all value health and all want long and healthy lives. It is also important because poor health is confining and good health is liberating.
For these reasons, we believe it is time to reaffirm the case for freedom of scientific research.
The participants in the First Meeting of the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research, held in Rome, Campidoglio, February 16-18, 2006:
– express their gratitude to the Provincial Administration, the City of Rome and to the President of the Regional Government of Lazio for their support and to all those who have contributed to the success of the Congress;
– express their gratitude in particular to the Committee of Promoters for fulfilling the commitment of the Final Declaration of the Constituent Session of October 2004;
– also express their gratitude to the Luca Coscioni Association for the organisation of the meeting, confirm it as Secretariat of the Congress and give it the task of disseminating the proceedings of the first meeting;
– reassert their commitment to work both as individuals and within their respective institutions and organisations for the promotion of scientific research;
– express their hope for increasing commitment to transnational cooperation on the Congress issues, with a view to mobilising scientists, researchers, experts, academics, patients, human rights activists and citizens at large for the freedom of science, conscience and knowledge;
– denounce the obscurantist and sectarian influences which threaten the non-confessional nature of States and freedom of research through prohibitionist legislation and drastic cuts in funding, thus hindering the development of potential treatment for millions of patients throughout the world;
– invite the Committee of Promoters to involve participants in the drafting of the Statute of the World Congress in order to identify jointly issues, objectives and specific responsibilities in the respective fields of research or at the respective regional levels;
– stress the need to document the state of freedom of scientific research in each country by a triennial report which could, for instance, include an indicator of freedom of research, to be defined by methods similar to those applied to define economic freedom;
– decide to resort to the institutional procedure of a Petition to the European Parliament for the funding of research on embryonic stem cells in all the 25 Member States of the EU.
Petition to the European Parliament (according to art. 191 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament):
Submitted by Luca Coscioni on behalf of the “Luca Coscioni” Association, Via di Torre Argentina, 76, 00186 Rome – Italy and by… (name, surname, nationality and place of residence of each signatory)
Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, proclaims that the States Parties to the Covenant “recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”;
Article 15 of the same proclaims that 1) the States Parties to the Covenant “recognise the right of everyone: a) to take part in cultural life; b) to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications; c) to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he/she is the author”; 2) the steps to be taken by the States Parties to the same Covenant to achieve the full realization of these rights shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture; 3) the States Parties to the same Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity; 4) the States Parties to the same Covenant recognise the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields;
between 2002 and 2006 – through the Sixth Framework Programme on Research – the EU has been allocating major resources in order to capitalise on the results of research on the genome of living organisms, including the new potential for treatment and prevention arising from stem cells research;
according to the European Commission’s report on stem cell research dated April 3, 2003 (the Busquin Report), one of the most promising fields in biotechnology is stem cells;
research projects funded by the Sixth Framework Programme focus on diabetes, cardiovascular and nervous system diseases and other diseases, thus offering hope and a future for tens of millions of European men and women. And yet, attempts are being made in the European Parliament to stop funding any research project involving the use of stem cells obtained from supernumerary embryos,
CONSIDERING ALL OF THE ABOVE, WE, THE UNDERSIGNED
call on the European Parliament to ensure that:
the Seventh Framework Programme on Research at least confirm the funding of research projects on stem cells obtained from supernumerary embryos;
eligibility for funding be extended to research projects on nuclear transfer (inappropriately called “therapeutic cloning”)”.