Israeli-Palestinian Science Organization (IPSO)

IPSO is a non-political, not-for-profit organization based in the city of Jerusalem. IPSO’s mission is to foster and sustain cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians and to promote dialogue and interaction among scholars and scientists in the two communities. IPSO seeks out and supports high quality research in science and learning, involving cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian scientists and scholars.

IPSO was launched with UNESCO backing in April 2004, two years after the instauration of World Science Day for Peace and Development. IPSO is the brainchild of Professor Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University in Jerusalem, and Professor Menahem Yaari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Both men were panellists at a UNESCO roundtable in November 2002 on Science for Peace. They were joined on the panel by Professor Torsten Wiesel, who would later become one of the eight members of IPSO’s International Science Council. All but one of the members of the Council are Nobel Laureates and the eighth is an Abel Laureate, the Nobel equivalent for mathematics. The members are: Chair: Torsten Wiesel (USA), Peter Agre (USA), Michael Atiyah(UK, Abel Laureate), Kenneth J. Arrow (USA), Edouard Brézin (France), Farida Faouzia Charfi (Tunisia), Claude Cohen–Tannoudji (France), François Jacob (France), Daniel Kahneman (USA), Ida Nicolaisen (Denmark), Harald Reuter (Switzerland), John Sulston (UK) and Michael Walzer (USA).

In 2005, UNESCO contributed US$100 000 in Funds-in-Trust to IPSO. Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura announced the UNESCO contribution after the President of IPSO’s Scientific Committee, Professor Torsten Wiesel, told a meeting of Permanent Delegates to UNESCO on 23 May of the same year that ‘We have a list of 30 joint research projects [involving both Palestinian and Israeli scientists] …‘These projects are excellent but the money is lacking’. Mr Matsuura told the assembly that ‘IPSO has reached the point where it now needs to turn ideas into action. This is why I invited representatives of UNESCO’s Member States which have shown an avid interest in UNESCO’s efforts in the Middle East to the present meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for donor countries to get to know IPSO’s concrete projects better and to see how they can back them’.

Since 2004, IPSO has succeeded in funding eleven research projects, mostly in the hard sciences and medical and health fields, for a total cost of US$2 million. IPSO has approved another 20 similar projects submitted jointly by Israeli and Palestinian scientists, at an estimated cost of about US$5 million, but is struggling to raise funds ‘to support this new generation of excellent research projects’.

Every two years, IPSO contributes to debates at the World Science Forum in Budapest (Hungary). The first forum in November 2003 also offered an occasion for IPSO to meet for the first time, when UNESCO organized a round-table on Science and Peace: from Talk to Action, to underline the role scientific cooperation plays in maintaining peace in regions divided by conflict.

In July 2007, IPSO received the formal responsibility for the Project for Israeli-Palestinian Cooperation in Science Education

Useful links

IPSO website
On the World Science Forum
World Science Day for Peace and Development
brief History of the World Conference on Science and World Science Forum

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