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Special Content


Issue no 32, 04-10 November 2023

Let's celebrate Science, Peace and Development

Nimish Kapoor

Science makes people aware about the need to limit our instinctive desire for power and that we must care for this limited ecosystem that includes all the people in the world. And these limits and constraints that we discover with science can help us build peace.

The scientific attitude involves questioning all truths and dogmas and accepting only objective facts as evidence. A good scientist doubts what even he or she proposes. Science is a shield against fallacies, self-interested lies, and false "truths," and a way to uncover the interests that hide-interests that often promote violence and want to move us away from peace. In this regard, November is a special month which brings day and week of science, development and peace.

 

World Science Day for Peace and Development-10th November 2023

World Science Day for Peace and Development, observed on November 10 every year, emphasises the value of science in society and the need to engage the citizens in debates and discussions on emerging scientific issues. It also emphasises the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.

 

By connecting science deeper with the masses, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that fellow citizens are kept informed of advancements in science and technology. It also emphasises how important scientists are in broadening our knowledge of this amazing but delicate green planet and to building more sustainable societies.

The theme of World Science Day 2023 is "Building trust in Science". The role of science in shaping our collective future can only be fulfilled when there is trust in science and, technologies are being used for peace and development.The creation and implementation of evidence-based solutions to the complex problems facing our planet at local as well as global level, are driven by trust in science.

Science permeates everything, from the expanding universe to the smart phones in our pockets. The World Science Day for Peace and Development, helps us remember this and provides a chance for everyone to participate in scientific discussions and activities. The day is an opportunity to involve everyone in the science of peace and development - from government officials to the media and school students. By connecting science more closely with society, science becomes accessible to all and expands our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home. It becomes also a more solid stepping-stone towards making our societies more sustainable.

Since being proclaimed by the UNESCO in 2001, the World Science Day for Peace and Development has generated many programmes and funding for science around the world. The day also helped promote collaboration between researchers living in conflict zones. One example is the establishment of the Israel-Palestine Research Organiz-ation (IPSO), supported by the UNESCO which can play a crucial role to stop the ongoing war between two countries and restore peace.

The objectives of World Science Day for Peace and Development are to: (i) Strengthen public awareness of the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies; (ii) Promote national and international solidarity for shared knowledge and scientific cooperation; (iii) Renew national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies; and (iv) Draw attention to the challenges faced by science and raising support for scientific endeavours.

 

Science, a human right

Science has been included in human rights by the UNESCO, which inspires everyone to celebrate science. As stated by the UNESCO, "Everyone has a right to participate in and benefit from science. We must find ways to improve access to science and to the benefits of science for sustainable development". Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Article 27 states: (1) Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share the scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which s/he is the author.

 

Open science: Making science more accessible, inclusive and equitable for the benefit of all

The UNESCO defines "Open science" in connection to World Science Day, is a set of principles and practices that aim to make scientific research from all fields accessible to all for the benefits of scientists and society as a whole. Open science is about making sure not only that scientific knowledge is accessible but also that the production of that knowledge itself is inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

 

Open science has the potential of making the scientific process more transparent, inclusive and democratic. Open science increases scientific collaborations and sharing of content for the benefits of scholars and fellow citizens; makes multilingual scientific knowledge openly available, accessible and reusable for everyone; and opens the processes of scientific knowledge creation, evaluation and communication to societal actors beyond the traditional scientific community. Our interconnected globe needs public-scientist participation with open science to help solve complex social, environmental, and economic challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

International Week of Science and Peace - 6th to 12th November 2023

The United Nations has designated the International Week of Science and Peace which will occur between November 6th and 12th.

 

This UN initiative is aimed to encouragement and promotion of peace across the globe. Various events and activities are organized worldwide, and people participate internationally to  promote peace in their countries and also develop advanced technology for better living.

The International Week of Science and Peace was first observed during 1986 as part of the observance of the International Year of Peace. The observance celebrates the contribution of science and technology to the promotion of peace. Based on the success of the 1986 observance, it was continued in successive years. In recognition of the value of the annual observance, the UN's General Assembly adopted resolution 43/61 in December 1988, which proclaims the "International Week of Science and Peace", to take place each year during the week in which 11 November falls.

The annual observance of the International Week of Science and Peace is making an important contribution to the promotion of peace. The Week encourages greater academic exchanges on a subject of universal importance while also generating greater awareness of the relationship of science and peace among the general public. Observing Science and Peace Week annual has led to increased participation public greater international understanding and opportunities for co-operation in the applications of science for the promotion of peace throughout the year.

The main goal behind this week's celebration is to contribute towards technology development and promote peace. It's to raise awareness among the general public. The events held during this week promote peace throughout the year. The annual observance of the International Week of Science and Peace is making an important contribution to the promotion of peace.

The annual celebration of this event is offering a significant contribution towards the promotion of science, technology, and peace as well as generating awareness in the general public to a greater level towards the association between science and peace.

IPU's efforts for rebuilding peace-ful co-existence with science

Inter-Parliamentary Union Science for Peace conducted a Parliamentary meeting on “Water security and insecurity: Rebuilding peaceful co-existence with science” during September 11-13, 2023. The primary objective of this meeting is to facilitate constructive dialogue, know-ledge exchange and partnership building to develop effective strategies and policies to ensure water security for present and future generations. The meeting is being jointly organized by the IPU and the International Centre for Inter-disciplinary Science and Education (ICISE), Vietnam.

Since its establishment in 1987, the IPU Committee on Middle East Questions has had as its core mission to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through political dialogue and mediation. In recent years the Committee turned to science as an avenue for bringing parliamentarians together on issues of cooperation.

Convinced of the importance of strengthening the nexus between the scientific and parliamentary communities in support of science and peace, the IPU Secretary General and the Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2016. The aim of the agreement was to promote initiatives for peace and dialogue supported by the two communities. In 2016 and 2017 the Committee held two round tables on water, producing several tangible results and demonstrating that science provided a neutral platform for dialogue, connecting individuals through scientific values in the search for solutions and demonstrating that elements of conflict could be turned into reasons for co-existence. In October 2017, during the IPU Assembly in St. Petersburg, the Committee agreed to establish the Science for Peace Schools and Parliamentary Expert Communities. These decisions provided the foundation for the establishment in May 2021 of the IPU Working Group on Science and Technology as the parliamentary focal point on issues related to science and technology.

The IPU Science for Peace Schools were established in 2022 to bridge the worlds of science and politics by initiating dialogue and to help create a community of parliamentary experts to address challenges together under the neutral umbrella of science. The Schools were the first joint activity between the IPU's Committee on Middle East Questions and the Working Group on Science and Technology. From 5-9 December 2022, the IPU jointly launched with CERN, the first session of the Science for Peace Schools in December 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland for 24 parliamentary staff from all six Geopolitical Groups, including Türkiye, Burkina Faso, Uruguay, Palestine, Chad, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Algeria amongst others.

Today, science plays a role in every aspect of our lives, from the smart phones and internet we use every day to the very food on our plates. But it is also important to use science to transform our society to a new, sustainable and peaceful world, rooted in healthy environment. A healthy collaboration between science and indigenous knowledge systems could help us to accomplish that, but to do so, the two must first gain a better understanding of each other.

Author is a science communicator and scientist in Vigyan Prasar.
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