Evolution of the Recommendation

In 1974, the Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers was adopted by UNESCO’s 18th General Conference as a standard-setting instrument.

  • The Recommendation addresses, inter alia, scientists’ freedom of expression, responsible science, and access to science

    Read 18 C/Resolution 40, found in the records of the General Conference
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Since 1974, developments relating to the governance of science and science-society relationship were also addressed, inter alia, by the

In order to reflect contemporary ethical and regulatory challenges relating to the governance of science and the science-society relationship, a thorough revision of the Recommendation was initiated in 2013.

Revision Timeline

190th session of the UNESCO Executive Board, October 2012 (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France)


192nd session of the UNESCO Executive Board, September-October 2013 (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France)

  • 58 UNESCO Member States agreed that regulation at the international level should be further considered, and thus put the item “revision of the Recommendation” on the agenda of the UNESCO General Conference, for all 195 Member States to consider.

    Read 192 EX/Decision 10, in the decisions of the Executive Board
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37th session of the UNESCO General Conference, November 2013 (UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France)

  • 195 Member States of UNESCO decided that it was necessary to update existing regulation, by means of a revised recommendation to Member States.
  • They asked that the new text aim “to provide a powerful and relevant statement of science ethics as the basis for science policies that would favour the creation of an institutional order conducive to the realization of Article 27, paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
  • They invited the Director-General to prepare such a revision so as to submit a draft to its 39th session in 2017.

    Read 37 C/Resolution 40, found in the records of the 37th General Conference
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    Read Article 27, paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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Consultations with partners from June 2014 to September 2015

38th session of the UNESCO General Conference, November 2015 (UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France)

  • 195 Member States of UNESCO reaffirmed their request that the Director-General should prepare a revised Recommendation despite that financial constraints prevent deepening consultations by convening an intergovernmental meeting dedicated to drafting a revised text.
  • UNESCO Recommendations, like Conventions, would normally benefit from such an intergovernmental meeting as part of the process for their preparation.

    Read 38 C/Resolution 45, found in the records of the 38th General Conference
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Consultations with Member States from September 2016 to November 2017

  • The UNESCO Director-General gave a preliminary report to all 195 Member States of UNESCO, setting forth the content and scope of the proposed regulation.
  • Her first proposals for a revised text are presented as an annexed questionnaire to which Member States of UNESCO were invited to reply.
  • 44 Member States of UNESCO replied by 31 December 2016.
  • Her proposals, revised based on these replies by Member States, are sent to Member States in May 2017, and also submitted to the 39th General Conference.

    Download the Director-General’s May 2017 final report including her proposals revised based on consultations with the 195 Member States
    English / French

Revised Recommendation

A revised Recommendation was adopted by the General Conference at its 39th session, superseding the 1974 text.

Its name is also revised, to become the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.

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