A revised Recommendation was adopted by the General Conference of the UNESCO at its 39th session, superseding the 1974 text. The UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers is an important standard-setting instrument which not only codifies the goals and value systems by which science operates, but also emphasizes that these need to be supported and protected if science is to flourish.
The Recommendation was adopted on 13 November 2017. It supersedes the Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers of 20 November 1974 by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 18th session (18 C/Resolution 40).
This Recommendation has a particular value today, including for developing countries in building up their scientific skills and institutions. For these, it provides a useful checklist of political and institutional requirements.
The Recommendation promotes a fair and appropriate status of scientific researchers and informs adequate national science, technology and innovation policies, which “encourage and assist the capacity of scientific researchers to perform research and experimental development in an enhanced spirit of responsibility towards man and his environment” and which ensure that societies use knowledge from all scientific fields in a responsible manner.
The Recommendation also indicates how, in principle, this can be achieved. For example, it stresses the importance of two issues:
the need to ensure the free circulation of scientific data, and
the need to provide scientists with adequate financial and institutional support.
The implementation of the Recommendation in Member States is monitored by the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations (CR Committee) of the Executive Board of UNESCO. The monitoring process is determined in line with the Specific multi-stage procedure for the monitoring of the implementation of UNESCO conventions and recommendations for which no specific institutional mechanism is provided (177 EX/Decision 35.I and 196 EX/Decision 20). Every four years, the Secretariat of UNESCO collects information from Member States, in consultation with other partners of the Organization, information on the implementation of the Recommendation and prepares a consolidated report which is submitted to the Executive Board for consideration by its CR Committee and further transmission to the General Conference.