Science and Human Rights

Protect Science, Scientists, and Human Rights

The Science and Human Rights program highlights the role chemistry plays to address global human rights issues. ACS directs its efforts to raise awareness about the rights and welfare of chemistry related practitioners and professionals when threatened. 

ACS is uniquely positioned and qualified to have a meaningful impact on these cases and has been involved in science and human rights issues since the 1970s.

Defend Science and Human Rights

ACS supports and promotes human rights cases and monitors the potential threats to scientific freedom and human rights of chemical practitioners and professionals and works to best address how to contribute to human rights issues and initiatives.

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Get a better understanding and identify what you can do to contribute to the promotion of human rights. 


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Report a Case

Help ACS support and promote human rights cases.


Report a Case

Since 2011, ACS considers cases of at-risk chemistry practitioners to monitor. Case responses are approved by the Board of Directors. Cases can be brought forward by an ACS Member, local section, division, committee or ACS staff office.

Selection Criteria

Case selection will be:

  • Grounded in principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), ICSU Statute 5 (Universality of Science) and the Objects of the Society;
  • Oriented toward professionally engaged chemists, chemical engineers or practitioners in closely related fields in the physical and natural sciences (such as material science, nanotechnology, biochemistry, and molecular biology);
  • Directed towards human rights and scientific mobility abridgments and issues where ACS is uniquely positioned and qualified to impact the case in a meaningful way;
  • Considered in the context of whether domestic remedies have been exhausted, unless it appears that such remedies would be ineffective or unreasonably prolonged.
  • Made based upon clear evidence and a factual description of the alleged rights violations.

Response Procedures

Case responses are approved by the Board of Directors before any actions are fast-tracked. 

Case response procedures include:

  • A request for action will be transmitted to the chair of the Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations (PA&PR).   If warranted by the evidence and consistent with ACS human rights case selection criteria.
  • PA&PR will recommend that the Society issue a statement on the matter or take appropriate related action, with signature prerogative from the ACS President, President Elect, Past President, Chair of the Board, and/or Chair of PA&PR. 
  • PA&PR will carry out this action under delegated authority from the Board.
  • This policy supersedes procedures for issuing such statements put in place by previous Boards, most notably on September 7, 1997.
  • In addition, The Office of the ACS Executive Director or authorized designee will regularly monitor agencies and organizations engaged in human rights activities for evidence of abridgement of the scientific mobility and human rights of chemists, chemical engineers and other scientists in closely related fields, and make a request for action as outlined above.


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