1 (cnrs & Université Paris 7)


The establishment of the WFScW



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The establishment of the WFScW

The AScW organized a new international conference in London, February 1946, "Science and the Welfare of Mankind" to discus how science could be used in peace times to solve the major social problems of humankind. Following the Moscow meeting, the WFScW was not among the items of the official programme, but informal meetings took place with foreign delegates, and the AScW was mandated to convene a formal conference to establish the desired Federation.

Former Resistance movements have constituted a French AScW after the war, which was to be the second pillow of the WFScW. It was not a Trade Union, but it defined itself as a "Science and Society" movement, besides existing Trade Unions. The Russians being also very reluctant for an international trade union, the coming Federation was defined as a "Science and Society" movement and not as an international Trade Union to be affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions.
The founding conference of the WFScW took place in London, July 1946. The same month, London welcomed many international gatherings of scientists: The Newton tercentenary celebrations, organized by the Royal Society; The meeting of the Unesco preparatory Commission, dedicated to the elaboration of its first programme; the British Commonwealth Scientific Conference; and finally, the first post-war General Assembly of ICSU.

A dozen associations and 6 observers participated to the founding conference. Blackett, president of the AScW, delivered the inaugural speech, reminding the history of the project. Needham.12 Burgers represented ICSU through its "Committee for Science and its Social Relations". The most important associations were the British AScW, and an American Engineers Union. The Federation of American Scientists was present, as an observer, but finally refused to join the Federation. Among the participants were Leon Rosenfeld for the Netherlands, Homi Bhabha for India, Eric Burhop for Australia, etc

Joliot was elected President, Bernal vice-president, and Crowther secretary-general. An American and a Russian were also both elected for the Executive Committee, in their absence. Harlow Shapley, the American astronomer, conditioned his acceptance to the symmetric acceptance by his Russian fellow. But the later declined, and the Federation went on only under a British and French leadership.
A constitution defined the agenda of the Federation, which aim was "to promote understanding and co-operative action between the member organizations", and included 8 functions. First point was "to work for the fullest utilization of science in promoting peace and the welfare of mankind, and especially to ensure that science is applied to solve the urgent problems of the time". In second, entered the co-operation with Unesco: "to promote international co-operation in science and technology, in particular through close co-operation with Unesco". One had to wait for the seventh function to meet professional problems: "to improve the professional and social status of scientific workers". And the last one: "to encourage scientific workers to take an active part in public affairs". Clearly, the Federation was principally turned towards the "social responsibility of scientists", and a classical Trade Union.




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