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29.11.2011: INES 20th Anniversary

Commit Universities to Peace - Reject Research for the Military.
It is time to act. International Appeal to the heads of universities and responsible academic bodies.

Freedom of thought and ideas for a peaceful, sustainable and just world are universal human rights. Today, they are threatened in many places, including even the universities around the world. Growing militarization of academic research in not only engineering and natural sciences, but also humanities, is further eroding those rights. Immediate steps need to be taken to reverse this process.
The undersigned believe that universities must focus on promoting peace and understanding among peoples by rejecting any research and teaching for military purposes.
We call for the abandonment of all research and teaching for military purposes and urge the university authorities and the responsible academic bodies everywhere to adopt binding commitments in the university statutes similar to Civil Clauses in some countries.
The appeal is part of a global campaign being launched by INES close to the 50th Anniversary of the landmark farewell speech by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower on January 17th, 1961.

In his speech, Eisenhower warned of the danger of a growing military-industrial complex and cautioned that the U.S. was spending more on the military security than the net income of all United States corporations. A half a century later the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has exceeded 1 trillion dollars and the public debt is approaching the size of the Gross Domestic Product, the largest in the world.

As we are all painfully aware, the so-called peace dividend did not materialize after the end of the Cold War. Instead, military spending by the major powers have continued to escalate along with massive expenditures for misguided wars.

However, the continuing crisis in the world economy and huge national budget deficits are forcing many countries to put their hitherto untouchable military budgets on the chopping block.

A permanent war mentality is fed by an incessant drive for modernization of weapons, which in turn require ever newer technology. It is becoming increasingly clear that these hitech weapons are not needed in the absence of any credible adversary and they are useless in the battlefield. Yet, the United States alone spends well over $80 billion annually in military research and development. The UK government spending on military Research and Development (R&D) is about 2 billion UK£ (2009), ie 3 billion US$.

Unfortunately, first-class universities and institutes like MIT continue to depend heavily on Pentagon's largesse. Although not to the same extent, but similar dependence also exists in many NATO countries (e.g. Cambridge University /UK) and emerging powers such as China and India.

It is high time we steer these large sums of money to solve more pressing problems like poverty, global warming or the shortage of water around the world. Let us demilitarize our universities and put science back squarely in the service of the society and not war.

We would very much appreciate it if you could kindly review the Appeal and lend your support to the campaign by signing it.

Sign online here