"To identify and address major issues of importance to science and society, by mobilising the resources and knowledge of the international scientific community; to promote the participation of all scientists, irrespective of race, citizenship, language, political stance or gender in the international scientific endeavour; to facilitate interactions between different scientific disciplines and between scientists from ‘Developing’ and ‘Developed’ countries; to stimulate constructive debate by acting as an authoritative independent voice for international science and scientists."
ICSU has a three tier system of governance:
The General Assembly (the highest organ).
The Executive Board and the Officers.
These are assisted by a Secretariat responsible for the day-to-day work of the Council.
ICSU has 5 Standing Committees.
3 Policy Committees on:
- Scientific Planning and Review (CSPR)
- Finance and Fund-raising (CFF)
- Freedom in the Conduct of Science (SCFCS)
2 Special Advisory Committees on:
- Dissemination of Scientific information (CDSI)
- Environment (ACE)
These bodies are responsible to one of the Executive Board and General Assembly.
Interdisciplinary ICSU Bodies
Interdisciplinary ICSU bodies are created by the General Assembly as the need for these arises in order to facilitate and coordinate interdisciplinary scientific and educational activities on an international basis. There are currently 17 such bodies.
Joint Initiatives are international programmes organized by ICSU or its Members in partnership with other inter- or non-governmental organizations. Cooperation in such programmes is particularly close with various UN agencies, such as UNESCO, WMO, UNEP and FAO. At the present time, ICSU has 10 major joint initiatives in a variety of areas.
ICSU is a non-governmental organization founded in 1931 to bring together natural scientists in international scientific endeavour. It comprises 101 multi-disciplinary National Scientific Members, Associates and Observers (scientific research councils or science academies) and 27 international, single-discipline Scientific Unions to provide a wide spectrum of scientific expertise enabling members to address major international, interdisciplinary issues which none could handle alone. ICSU also has 24 Scientific Associates.
ICSU's objectives are set out in its Statutes and Rules of Procedure, to which all Members and Associates of ICSU adhere. One of the fundamental principles of ICSU is that of the universality of science (Statute 5), which affirms the right and freedom of scientists to associate in international scientific activity without regard to such factors as citizenship, religion, creed, political stance, ethnic origin, race, colour, language, age or sex.
The Council seeks to break the barriers of specialization by initiating and coordinating major international interdisciplinary programmes and by creating interdisciplinary bodies alone or in partnership with others which undertake activities and research programmes of interest to several members. A number of bodies set up within ICSU also address matters of common concern to all scientists, such as capacity building in science, environment and development, and the free conduct of science.
The Council acts as a focus for the exchange of ideas and information and the development of standards. Hundreds of congresses, symposia and other scientific meetings are organized each year around the world, and a wide range of newsletters, handbooks and journals is published
The principal source of ICSU's finances is the the contributions it receives from its Members. Other sources of income are the framework contracts from UNESCO and grants and contracts from UN bodies, foundations and agencies, which are used to support the scientific activities of the ICSU Unions and interdisciplinary bodies. One of ICSU's greatest strengths, however, is the time contributed freely by the thousands of scientists committed to the objectives of the Council.
ICSU has two categories of full Members: International Scientific Union Members, and National Scientific Members. There are currently 26 Scientific Union Members and 69 National Scientific Members. In addition, ICSU has 27 International Scientific Associates.
International Scientific Unions
The 27 Scientific Unions are international, non-governmental, professional organizations devoted to the promotion of activities in a particular area of science which have been in existence for at least six years.
In addition to 73 National Scientific Members, there are 15 National Scientific Associates and 13 National Scientific Observers. National Scientific Associates are potentially qualified, but not yet ready, for full membership and National Scientific Observers are those Members which have failed to fulfil their financial obligations.
A National Scientific Member, National Scientific Associate or National Scientific Observer adheres to the Council either through its principal scientific academy, or its national research council, or any other institution or association of institutions effectively representing the range of scientific activities in a definite territory.
National Scientific Associates and National Scientific Observers have no vote.
International Scientific Associates
There are 24 Scientific Associates, which are organizations in fields cognate to those of ICSU, whose scientific activities do not fall primarily within the scope of a single Scientific Union Member.
Scientific Associates have no vote.
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