1974 Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers

© CSUF Photos / Matt Gush

The 1974 Recommendation on the Status of 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 UNESCO Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers was adopted on 20 November 1974 by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 18th session (18 C/Resolution 40).

This Recommendation, elaborated more than four decades ago, continues to have 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 1974 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 1974 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 1974 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 1974 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.


Second consultation on the implementation of the Recommendation

The Second consultation on the implementation of the 1974 Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers is scheduled to take place from 22 December 2016 to 22 May 2017. It will result in a consolidated report covering the period from 2013 to 2016, which will be submitted to the 202nd session of the Executive Board, and subsequently to the 39th session of the General Conference. UNESCO invites its Member States to prepare their reports in a participatory manner, in coordination with relevant national stakeholders.

The deadline for submission of their reports to UNESCO is 22 May 2017.


Revision of the Recommendation

In 2017, the work on the monitoring of the implementation of the 1974 Recommendation is being carried out in close relationship with the preparation of its revision, in conformity with the decisions of the General Conference of UNESCO (37 C/Resolution 40 and 38 C/Resolution 45).

The General Conference, at its 37th session in November 2013, underlining the importance and full relevance of the 1974 Recommendation, decided to revise it by 2017 (37 C/Resolution 40) in order to reflect the challenges for scientific researchers which emerged over the forty years since adoption of this Recommendation, and to improve its effectiveness and monitoring. A preliminary report of the Director-General was circulated to Member States in September 2016 with the proposed amendments to the 1974 Recommendation.

The Director-General’s final report containing a draft text was circulated to Member States in May 2017, and this draft will also be considered for adoption by UNESCO Member States.

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