INES Appeal to Engineers and Scientists

Opened for signature on July 16, 1995,

the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion (Trinity Test).

This Appeal has been prepared by the INES Standing Committee on Ethical Questions (see Newsletter 12). Feedback from the general INES membership was included. It was endorsed by the Council in Budapest on July 2, 1995. All INES member organisations and other relevant organisations are asked to endorse the Appeal and tosubmit the Pledge to their members for signatures. Personal members of INES are asked to sign the Pledge. This Appeal is part of a worldwide INES campaign to raise ethical awareness and practice in the scientific and engineering communities.


Science and technology influence the social, economic and political development of civilization throughout the world. In many ways science and technology have made our life easier, richer and safer. However, science and technology can be used for destructive purposes and are key factors in the current growth economy that is threatening the viability of the biosphere and of human societies.

In its origins, science is a search for truth about our world. Its results can be used for good and misused for evil. Technological consequences are now so powerful and interconnected, so sweeping in unforeseen results, that they endanger basic requirements for sustaining life on earth. Without adherence to generally accepted ethical standards, science and technology can damage the future of society and life itself.

The greatest challenge of our time is to enable to all members of the world population to live in dignity in a manner that is sustainable for humankind and nature. In meeting this challenge science and technology - if used in the right way - play a decisive role by providing the necessary means or by analyzing the various consequences of human activities.

The web of humanity and life as a whole must not be endangered by vested interests. Knowledge gives power, and power may corrupt and be used for destructive purposes. Therefore, social structures and institutions on local, national, regional and global levels are urgently needed to promote responsible uses of science and technology. We appeal to engineers and scientists to respect human rights and human dignity unconditionally.

Secrecy of scientific and technological research allows its misuse. Our vision is a science which seeks truth in open discourse.

In the last decades several initiatives promoting ethical pledges of scientists have been launched. The values underlying these pledges can form the foundation of a worldwide community of responsibility among scientists and engineers. In adherence to the UNESCO Declaration for Scientific Professionals of November 1974, we have attempted to harmonize existing pledges into the following code of ethics:


1. I acknowledge as a scientist or engineer that I have a special responsibility for the future of humankind. I share a duty to sustain life as a whole. I therefore pledge to reflect upon my scientific work and its possible consequences in advance and to judge it according to ethical standards. I will do this even though it is not possible to foresee all possible consequences and even if I have no direct influence on them.

2. I pledge to use my knowledge and abilities for the protection and enrichment of life. I will respect human rights, and the dignity and importance of all forms of life in their interconnectedness. I am aware that curiosity and pressure to succeed may lead me into conflict with that objective. If there are indications that my work could pose severe threats to human life or to the environment, I will abstain until appropriate assessment and precautionary actions have been taken. If necessary and appropriate, I will inform the public.

3. I pledge not to take part in the development and production of weapons of mass destruction and of weapons that are banned by international conventions. Aware that even conventional arms can contribute to mass destruction, I will support political efforts to bring arms production, arms trade, and the transfer of military technology under strict international control.

4. I pledge to be truthful and to subject the assumptions, methods, findings and goals of my work, including possible impacts on humanity and on the environment, to open and critical discussion. To the best of my ability I shall contribute to public understanding of science. I shall support public participation in a critical discussion of the funding priorities and uses of science and technology. I will carefully consider the arguments from such discussions which question my work or its impact.

5. I pledge to support the open publication and discussion of scientific research. Since the results of science ultimately belong to humankind, I will conscientiously consider my participation in secret research projects that serve military or economic interests. I will not participate in secret research projects if I conclude that society will be injured thereby. Should I decide to participate in any secret research, I will continuously reflect upon its implications for society and the environment.

6. I pledge to enhance the awareness of ethical principles and the resulting obligations among scientists and engineers. I will join fellow scientists and others willing to take responsibility. I will support those who might experience professional disadvantages in attempting to live up to the princi ples of this pledge. I will support the establishment and the work of institutions that enable scientists to exercise their responsibilities more effectively according to this pledge.

7. I pledge to support research projects, whether in basic or applied science, that contribute to the solution of vital problems of humankind, including poverty, violations of human rights, armed conflicts and environmental degradation.

8. I acknowledge my duty to present and future generations, and pledge that the fulfilment of this duty will not be influenced by material advantages or political, national or economic loyalties.

The above text incorporates material and ideas from the following declarations :

We see these declarations as a part of a wider movement which has expressed itself in particular in the Declaration of a Global Ethic of the Parliament of the World's Religions (Chicago, 1993) and in the Trieste Declaration of Human Duties (Trieste, 1994).

If you wish to endorse the pledge, send your signature together with your address, name of institution or place of work, phone, fax and email contact information, to:

Centre for Research Ethics, attn: Prof. Stellan Welin, Brogatan 4, S-41301, Goteborg, Sweden.

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