Address delivered during FORUM III
by Mario A.J. Mariscotti
Thank you for the opportunity to address the plenary session of this Conference on behalf of my country.
Argentina has supported the initiative to hold this World Conference on Science from the start and has actively participated in its preparatory stages. In this regard I remind you that the Regional Forum on Women, Science and Technology in Latin America, organized together with UNESCO, was held in Bariloche last October.
In addition to providing the basis for development in this and the next century, science, by its very universal character and superior spiritual values, lends itself as one of the most effective means to bringing people together and contributing to peace and understanding among different cultures. This is the main motive behind cherishing the fact that an event of this kind is taking place.
In spite of the fact that Argentina is not among the countries leading in R&D investment, it has a relatively strong tradition in science. It has produced 3 Nobel laureates and from time to time receives international recognition by way of awards given to scientists educated in Argentina, as occurred yesterday in this very auditorium.
Over these past days we have all been working feverishly to give the final touches to the Declaration document and the Science Agenda and we hope that these instruments will effectively contribute to improving science policy in all our countries in the years to come for the benefit of our societies.
The Declaration includes a number of issues that are important. There are the ethical issues and the timely concern for the protection of global life-support systems. Taking action on the ethical issue we must always uphold the respect for the different cultures and religious values. A particular point, which my country has addressed in previous United NationsUN meetings relates to the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. Here due consideration must be exercised towards human dignity and the rights that derive from it avoiding an exclusively biologist perspective. The human genome is part of each individual' s identity.
Another aspect of the Declaration is the emphasis in international cooperation. This is decisive for the development of science as a strong and competitive activity. It is not possible to conceive nowadays that leadership in scientific matters can be attained without a high level of interaction among scientists to exchange and confront ideas. Science could not thrive ahead without the forceful action of peer criticism. In line with this concept, Argentina holds cooperation agreements with many countries in the world (including our host country Hungary) and is part of several international and regional programs. Among the latter we can mention the CYTED program with the Ibero-American countries, the Biotechnology program carried out together with Brazil and the Mercosur science network. Beyond the region, Argentina is now participating in the European Union Program as the only associate member from Latin America.
There are many other examples of international cooperation which I would like to refer to, but because of time I will only mention two. One of them is the Auger project. This is aimed at a better understanding of some kind of intriguing cosmic radiation. It involves the construction of two 3000 km2 detector systems, one in the Southern Hemisphere, the other in the Northern Hemisphere. Argentina was selected to host the southern detector system by the other countries participating in this big project and I take this opportunity to thank our colleagues for their trust and assure them that we shall try to fulfill everybody's expectations with regard to our role in this endeavor. We hope that this important cooperation effort will have important benefits for the scientists in the region.
The other example is to show how pure science may indeed help in bringing together peoples and help the cause of peace in practical manner. I refer to the Nuclear Agreement between Argentina and Brazil that is an example to the world and was a result of a historically strong cooperation between scientists in the two countries, nuclear and particle physicists in particular.
Other issues discussed in this Conference and in the Drafting Group involve the case for gender. As I mentioned Argentina hosted the last regional forum on the subject and I may announce that recommendations for integrated studies on this matter have been included in the last edition of our Multiannual National Plan for Science and Technology. Active international collaboration is already taking place.
I would also like to take the opportunity to express our appreciation for the very existence and performance of UNESCO's International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste. The beneficial effects of this institution on Argentinas and the regions scientific system have had unparalleled impact.
We just heard the Prime Minister of Hungary inciting us to be optimistic. We are optimistic with regard to science in our country and the decisive role that it will play in addressing and helping to solve the most urgent problems of our society including poverty, unemployment and economic growth through the gradually increasing introduction of knowledge in our productive system in order to achieve a higher level of competitiveness in the international market.
Recent reforms in the science and technology sector in Argentina will certainly help in fulfilling our expectations. The fact that a genuine and fruitful effort has been made by all stakeholders to reach agreements in setting out our national priorities for science and technology is good progress. Likewise the commitment to funding only high-level quality research, through the application of a wide reaching international peer review system, which deserved several positive references from reputed journals such as Nature, is very important to build a strong science base for the future.
In closing I wish to thank the committee members of this Conference for an excellent organization and express our hopes that the terms of the Declaration and Science Agenda - Framework for Action will become effective instruments adopted by the international community.