Introductory report 22nd General Assembly
By Dr Jean-Paul Lainé, Président
Dear colleagues, delegates of affiliated organizations, candidates to affiliation and friendly organizations.
I . Introduction
First of all I would like to thank all of the political and academic authorities who honor us by hosting this 22nd General Assembly on as well as our other activities of the week, in particular the symposium that will be held tomorrow in the same premises. This symposium is open to the public. Its theme is ” “, and there will also be meetings of working groups and sessions of the Executive Council and the International Secretariat.
I would like to thank our two Senegalese affiliated organizations, the trade unions representing teaching personnel and researchers, the SAES and the SUDES, and in particular the national leaders who concretely organized these meetings in close cooperation with our international Secretariat and the operational Bureau of the Federation. I would like to mention specially Malick Sall, Cheikhou Sylla, Seydi Ndyaye et Oumar Dia. We have held phone conferences very regularly for almost one year, precisely since the end of February.
I welcome the presence of the majority of the members of the Executive Council (22 out of 31), and to thank them. Despite constraints in terms of time and money, almost 60 persons here today have come from abroad, from four continents, and 19 countries. At a time when our affiliated organizations have their own agenda, while they are occupied by the individual and collective defense of their colleagues, it is a positive sign that they are sending us by being represented here for almost one week.
II. The international situation
II.1. The dominant characteristics
As I open this General Assembly, which closes a four-year mandate and opens another, I cannot but recall the characteristics of the situation as I have described them since several sessions of the Executive Council, since Algiers in particular in 2012 as well as on the occasion of our previous General Assembly in Moscow.
1) the development of the recourse to war at the cost of diplomacy and negotiation
2) the political, economic and social crisis developing in Europe and North America, which is not without an impact on the entire world
3) the development of a “withdrawal into oneself”, of intolerance and irrationalism; the negative role of the major media and means of communication
4) the environmental crisis, the depletion of resources, climate disruptions, the energy question.
Nothing has been done this year that seriously diminishes these worrying, if not terrifying, observations. A recently elected politician vociferates and threatens to such a degree that he even worries the leaders of his own armies. The same politician calls into question the signing by his country of the Paris climate agreement. And the same politician decides to withdraw his nation from UNESCO, and the same politician is highly indulgent toward “white supremacists”. Others are consolidating and developing their dictatorships. I wish to provide only one example that affects the academic world, namely Turkey. Thousands of teachers and researchers have been dismissed and imprisoned in defiance of the elementary principles of law. Other political leaders use terrorism, exacerbate the differences between cultures and religions in order to divide, dominate and exploit human beings. A “dishonor roll” would be very long.
It occurs to me that I must add a fifth scourge to my initial observation, in my listing of the characteristics of today’s world, the refugee problem. The refugee problem is a consequence and an aggravation of the first four problems, and it will reach proportions such that every “honest man”, every progressive organization must grapple with it.
Despite all of this, modest, partial, and fragile results are obtained. They are nonetheless of great potential and have a strong symbolic value, and they allow us to believe that another world is possible. They prove that conscience, true intelligence, empathy, generosity and perseverance still exist! Let me give you several examples: international scientific partnerships like the international orbit station and the CERN in Geneva, decisive medical progress like the victory against the Ebola epidemic, political agreements like the Vienna agreements about Iranian nuclear power, the Paris agreements on the climate, the Nobel Peace Prize awarded this autumn to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CIAN-ICAN). And here I must mention the adoption by UNESCO of a “Recommendation Concerning Science and Scientific Researchers”. That happened several weeks ago at the 39th General Conference following three years of discussion among NGOs, and then among states, of a plan to update the 1974 recommendation on the condition of researchers, a recommendation to which the WFSW greatly contributed. I will return to this victory several times, in particular in the “activity” chapter of this dossier. It is a victory to which we contributed along with others including of course the ICSU, which stands for International Conference of Scientific Unions (in French CIUS-Conseil International des Unions Scientifiques), now called the International Council for Science. Others who contributed were the COMEST (World Commission on Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technologies) created by UNESCO almost 20 years ago. We must also mention our affiliated organizations who weighed on their governments and national UNESCO commissions.
This victory, like the others, must become concrete in order to become real. In other words, it must not remain a mere set of principles, but must become a guide for policies actually implemented by governments. To achieve this, men and women must move forward with these victories, take initiatives, either individually (as whistleblowers) or collectively through associations, NGOs, parties, trade unions.
To complete this overview of the 2010 years, I would like to point out that it is true that this progress is undoubtedly in line with the demands of our time. These demands concern freedom, the right to security (the means to live decently, health), which were among the demands of the peoples who came together in various places in the major cities of the world. These movements contradicted the development of “withdrawal into oneself”, intolerance and irrationalism. Even if some of these movements have been crushed, others misled, and still others unable to succeed in changing minds, I nonetheless believe that these emancipatory ideas have been sown. But I know that steps backward and with their series of horrors is never far. I have a thought for some of my former pupils who returned to their native country, a country very little spoken about and which has returned to the “Stone Age”, if you pardon me the expression, under bombardments and with famine and epidemics. The country I am referring to is Yemen, formerly “Arabia Felix” (“Fortunate Arabia”).
II. 2. Understand to resist better, to find solutions.
The dominant discourse of journalists mainly focuses on single events, scandal, the sensational. This discourse appeals to emotions and not to thought. It leads many politicians obsessed by their popularity ratings to follow the same path, to multiply urgent and short statements, reactions and dramatic announcements. President Trump’s tweets are a caricature of this.
But the most odious slaughters, thousands of drownings in the Mediterranean, suicide attacks are not due to fate, to some physical phenomenon, or cannot be attributed to the perfidy of a few. They thus cannot be prevented solely by repressive or security measures. Even climate disasters cannot be ascribed to nonhuman activity, and their impacts are totally dependent on our political choices.
It is only a historical, global, geopolitical analysis that can identify the causes and open up the possibility to solving problems.
If these events, which are shown repeatedly on television screens, that hit newspaper and radio headlines, are treated as I described above, they cause fatalism, fear and various phobias, including xenophobia. The “tweet” policy cannot find a true remedy, and does not seek to do so. True search for solutions requires a rational and critical analysis, which quite often must be based on historical study. Human consciousness evolves over long periods. Here in the Cheikh Anta Diop University there is an additional reason to emphasize the weight of history, I am referring to the history of all of humankind and not only to that of Europe.
I would like to give an example which was already in my presentation in Barcelona two years ago. I found intolerable the statements made by the French Prime Minister during the debates following the attacks of 2015-2016. This gentleman said the following: “explaining is a little bit like excusing”. What hate of reason in the country of Voltaire and Diderot! I developed this idea further as follows: we absolutely must defend rational thought, critical thought in our role as citizens as we do in our professional activity. Emotion is normal and legitimate in the face of horror, but let us make sure not to be guided by emotion in our choices. Let us cultivate reflection rather than mere reflex.
So this is what I said so as to try to understand those events, a historical development which does not claim to be an official position of the WFSW. This point of view is more over schematic and partial: it is only an example of an explicative approach.
These events are first of all the product of the colonial and neocolonial history. The claim of the European powers as of the end of the Middle Ages, when China was becoming isolated, the Arab-Moslem world was declining under Ottoman domination, the powers of the pre-Columbian societies were rapidly collapsing, to take possession of the natural and human resources of the entire world for the needs of capitalist accumulation.
The 19th century witnessed the height of this claim. In Berlin in 1885 the European powers shared and drew the political map of Africa and at the same time each one of them established trading posts in India or China. This division of territories was soon to become conflictual. Capitalisms marked the 20th century by two world wars accompanied by unprecedented destructions. These powers brought colonized peoples into these wars while “forgetting” afterwards to treat them as full-fledged citizens. It was necessary to recall these facts here in Dakar.
The 20th century also witnessed the unprecedented emancipation of peoples with a social and nationalist dimension. This century marked the great social conquests in the so-called “developed” countries, and the end of colonial empires. Let us not forget that all of this did not “come out of nowhere”. Let us not forget the men and women who said no, who refused centuries-old servitude, who raise their heads by uniting in parties, trade unions, and various alliances. To say no – I’m going to use a fashionable term here – this is in the DNA of our federation. Our organization was founded by physicists, in particular in nuclear physics, aware of the potential dangers of the development of their knowledge. These physicists refused the military use of certain applications of their knowledge, like nuclear fission.
I will now return to my rapid historical development. This progress was partly facilitated by the existence of the Soviet Union, whose international role was a factor of balance and peace, even if its domestic politics deviated from the initial ideals of the proletarian revolution that took place exactly 100 years ago.
In this 21st century the United States and their allies claim to decide the destiny of peoples, claim to offer them democracy, let us rather say their conception of democracy. But above all they continue to take possession of energy resources and raw materials. They intervene militarily with or without a UN mandate, directly or through subordinate regional powers.
This historical analysis, let me repeat, is a personal contribution to seeking the causes of the global crisis whose characteristics I previously described. I wanted to show that only a global, historical, geopolitical analysis can clarify the causes and open the way to solving problems, keeping in mind that it is a political struggle that will lead toward the solution.
To conclude about the international situation, I would like to stress the following. The challenges that all of humankind must face, environmental challenge, the demographic challenge, social, economic, and political challenges require consciousness, lucidity, courage, and cooperation both at the individual and collective levels: national, regional, and worldwide. International regulations are necessary. We make proposals to strengthen the power and broaden the responsibilities of the UN. Our “Disarmament, Peace and Cooperation ” working group – which will meet Wednesday afternoon like the other groups – will go further and will propose resolutions and declarations to our General Assembly.
You have understood that for me, for us at the WFSW, education plays and should play an even greater role in the long and difficult path of humankind toward adulthood so as to reach the time of true humanism, or of humanitude, as some say.
As you know, we will devote a round-table to “Sciences and Education”.
I will add, provided that our species is not suddenly eliminated, as it is now eliminating many other species, through the illogical behavior of human beings today, or at least of their representatives.
Progress – as I have already said – must be concrete. Our work has not been completed. On the environmental level for example, even if the C.O.P. – Conferences of Parties – are good thing, after Paris and then Marrakesh, it was these past weeks, still with good intentions but without firm commitments.
As we have already written, the UN must have a statutory responsibility in this respect, covering all the aspects of problems, including those related to finance and justice in access to energy, for example. This topic will of course be discussed at the “energy-climate” working group on Wednesday.
III. The situation in the field of science
III.1. Science: its development and ambivalence
For over 50 years research activity – in whatever field – has witnessed an unprecedented development in the history of humankind. Scientific literature has “exploded”, new sciences have emerged, regions of the world, more countries are participating in this fantastic adventure. Our knowledge has progressed overall, and in certain fields has revolutionized our conceptions, new paradigms have appeared.
The transfer of scientific progress toward application is taking place faster. Information and communication technologies are making astounding progress, persons suffering from disease can hope to survive long enough to benefit from curative therapy. New materials with exceptional properties and more and more efficient robots make our work and lives easier…or could do so!
Indeed, these positive results of science are unequally shared among human beings. Access to health, energy and comfort are totally non-egalitarian. In some schools there is no electricity. There are AIDS patients in some parts of the world who have no access to tri-therapies, and even in some regions of the world “technical progress” means being able to sell an organ, to procreate and sell a child to a rich family.
The results of this trio – science-technology-human activity – also consist of global warming, the unlimited extraction of raw materials from the entire crust of the earth; industrial agriculture that depletes soils and generates sometimes dangerous foods; and also the production and use of increasingly devastating arms.
We can understand why we often encounter two contradictory and negative attitudes toward science. On the one hand, like a century ago, there is the belief in science as the savior of humanity. And on the other hand there is the opposite attitude, science and technology perceived as pollutants of a healthy natural order. Religious currents – in particular in the United States – even go as far as denying the universally recognized knowledge like evolution, or number of biological mechanisms. To summarize, there is on the one hand scientism, which now postulates for example that our researchers will find in time the solution to greenhouse gas emissions, which avoids confronting the multinational oil companies. On the other hand there are the enemies of science, refused to take into account the needs of humankind as a whole.
It is clear that scientific activity does not take place independently of the political, social, economic, and ideological context.
III.2. Scientific policies, the condition of researchers
I persist in my positive appreciation of the quantitative development of the production of knowledge. Statistics and an evolution of language show the undeniable character of this evolution. We can say that there are as many scientific workers alive today as there have been since the beginning of human history. We no longer call them “scholars”, but “researchers”.
Black spots, however, have appeared these past years, particularly in Europe and North America. Science, the conditions of research and employees now undergo the same general pressure imposed by multinationals and the states that support them. It is for this reason that our declaration of Nizhny Novgorod in 2013 is more relevant than ever. Let me quote this excerpt: financial objectives are largely favored at the cost of economic, social, environmental, and cultural objectives. Basic research is thus being sacrificed. Knowledge and university diplomas have become commercial products.
Research is thus only a tool to gain market shares, and is considered useful by political and economic powers only in terms of possible impacts on innovation. One of the consequences of this evolution is the precarious situation of researchers, particularly young researchers, a phenomenon which is apparently becoming international. This precariousness goes hand-in-hand with funding of projects whose only consequence is the worsening of the living and working conditions of human beings. Precariousness has a negative impact on quality research.
Precariousness leads to work that is done too fast, whereas research requires time and thought. Moreover, precariousness encourages conformism and superficiality, weakens basic research and human and social sciences in particular. I reject the idea widespread in the media that insecurity dynamizes and stimulates people.
The situation is also accompanied by a decline in collegiality and greater power to hierarchy at every level. As for regional, national and supranational decision-makers, there are the notions of assessment, performance, excellence, and competition which in fact hide submission to industrial lobbies, for example agri-food and pharmaceutical lobbies.
We have now reached a point at which when independent researchers dare to publish articles alerting us about the uselessness or dangerous character of a molecule, a product, or a treatment, business leaders, economic powers that derive benefit from these things use every possible weapon (threats against funding or careers, for example) to silence a whistleblower or make him inaudible. which in fact
Here we find the reasons for our priorities concerning the conditions of research, the third important sector of our activity, dealt with by a working group which will also meet Wednesday afternoon. Our credo is the following: every scientist must be a citizen just as every citizen must be able to weigh upon scientific policies. Every scientist must have a status enabling him to practice his profession properly and to behave as a free man.
This principle is one of the foundations of our activity, of our major projects:
• two campaigns which we have helped, “sciences and democracy” for almost 10 years and “no to precariousness”, launched more than a year ago, taking the form of a world day which has taken place and which will take place every March 15.
• our contribution, which I have already mentioned, to preparing the new recommendation of UNESCO on Science and Scientists
IV. The responsibilities and activity of the WFSW
IV.1. Our scope of action, our fields of work
Everything that I have just presented, analyzed, and commented on validates – unfortunately, if I may say so – our commitment as well as that of our affiliated organizations and individual members.
We thus have every reason to develop the activity of the three current working groups (this General Assembly can modify their scope and create other working groups) focused in particular on:
– peace, priority to negotiation, strengthens role of the UN, which alone can interpose or intervene; the destruction of arsenals of weapons of mass destruction and the question of NATO and military alliances
• forced migrations, the refugee question
• the weight of funding for military applications
• energy, climate, binding measures and international law to be developed
• access to fundamental needs: food, water, energy
• free public education including university education, forming of autonomous and critical citizens and not only worker-technicians
• digital tools, plurality and independent journalism
• conditions of the life and work of scientific workers which guarantee the independence and quality of work
• the anti-precariousness campaign and the broadening of the March 15 world day
the 2017 recommendation, publicizing it and putting it into practice
• definition of research priorities: by whom? how?
• commitment of scientists, trade union rights, protection of whistleblowers
This list is not exhaustive, these are paths, some of them are already off to a good start. Wednesday’s working groups will make the choices. Let me remind you of the names of the working groups that will meet:
– “disarmament, peace and cooperations”
– “energy and climate”
– “research conditions and the status of researchers”.
Let me remind you of two important places of action:
• in a continuous manner, UNESCO with its liaison committee UNESCO-NGO, with its commissions including the ethics commission, where our representatives have put forward the image of a serious WFSW.
• active participation and leading of seminars and the round-table at the World Social Forum as well as its World Sciences and Democracy Forum version, which are privileged moments for expanding our relations, disseminating our ideas and projects (Belem in 2009, Dakar in 2011, Tunis in 2013 2015, Montreal in 2016),
• participation in congresses, conferences or seminars of affiliated organizations or friendly organizations for the same reasons (for information, these last years in Portugal, Senegal, Argentina, Cuba, Italy, France).
IV.3. Organization – internal work
We have succeeded in implementing, in some cases totally and at others (too!) partially the recommendations of the General Assemblies n°20 (Paris-Marne-le-vallée) and n°21 (Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod), reworked by successive Executive Councils:
1. Regular monthly meetings of the International Secretariat
2. As concerns the Executive Council, continuing and annual “in presence” meeting, permitting dialogues, closer relations, and the “on the spot” A CHAUD construction of common positions
3. Elaboration and rapid dissemination of the minutes of meetings
4. Drafting of the WFSW newsletter, but irregularly
5. Modernization and regular updating of our website
6. Financial balanced obtained by more numerous and higher dues
7. Organization and regular activities of working groups with group leaders and dissemination list
8. Participation of each member of the Executive Council in a working group
9. Contribution of affiliates (organizations and individuals) in our newsletter and website
The WFSW has thus been present and visible in a wide variety of places and themes.
But unlike other NGOs, we are not a general staff financially supported by a foundation or working under contract with this or that institution with the means to fund activities in the field. We are a federation of pre-existing national organizations (trade unions or associations), which are therefore not branches of the WFSW. Everything is based on goodwill, persuasion and confidence. We must succeed in integrating the problem of affiliated organizations in our discussions and publications just as you, affiliated organizations – which are taken up by the daily tasks of defending colleagues, their missions and their rights – should consider integrating contributions of the Federation in your publications. Better circulation of information among all of us is thus a necessary step. %%%.
iv.4. Reports of the working groups
1) The “disarmament, peace and cooperations” group
▪ The Working Group 1 prepared the text concerning the reform of the UN adopted by the Executive Council of Barcelona in May 2015. The purpose is to finalize a position of theWFSW on several essential points: 1) the responsibility of regional alliances and particularly NATO, 2) the composition of the Security counsel, 3) the right to veto, 4) sanctions and the right to intervene. The document also requests that the economic agencies, IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO be placed under the real authority of the UN.
▪ On the other hand, the Working Group 1 closely monitored (with a vigilant help of Seiji and Frederico) the work of the UN concerning the nuclear arms ban. This work led to the Convention of July 7, signed by 122 states. The conclusions of the Convention state that “most of the countries of the world no longer view nuclear weapons as a legitimate means of war”. This is certainly one of the most important events of the recent period, even if those states that possess nuclear weapons did not sign it.
▪ Lastly, a longer term task, Working Group 1 has begun to examine the question of autonomous weapons, which are a military application of artificial intelligence techniques. The scientific community cannot remain indifferent to what is happening in this domain.
▪ We have also had several contacts with our friends of the International Bureau Of Peace, focusing on the creation of an “action agenda” in view of “the militarizing for a climate of peace”. But for lack of availability things went no further than a declaration of good intentions.
2) The “energy and climate” group
Since the Alarm about the climate change launched by the WFSW three years ago, the subtitle of which was “redefining relations between human beings and the planet and relations among human beings”, published in the WFSW newsletter n°7, and the appeal drafted at the Executive Committee meeting in Minsk, “for an urgent, fair and solidary energy transition”, the “Energy Climate” working group launched a discussion on several topics. First of all, what urgent and reasonable solutions are indispensable in order to decrease greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and significantly? Then, what do we mean when we use the term “energy transition”? Lastly, what are the obstacles that are so strong that states are powerless and ineffective in keeping the commitments that they signed at the COP21? Even though universal awareness of the gravity of the consequences for everyone of climate change has progressed, the urgent need to reverse this evolution – which for now would probably lead us to global disaster – has not led us to radical solutions, far from it.
The COP 23 has been an echo of this problem, in particular thanks to the appeal signed by 15,000 scientists from all over the world.
The group observes that its work is still too limited to several persons. We must find a way to overcome difficulties in exchanging and communicating internationally.
3) The “research conditions and status of researchers” group.
▪ Activity 1: participation in the preparation by UNESCO of the recommendation concerning science and scientific researchers. The Federation and several organizations have proposed amendments. The 39th General Conference has just adopted this recommendation which considers science as an entity common to all beyond special interests.
The recommendation also establishes the link between the growing importance of scientific activities in human activity and the need to support scientific workers, their protection, recognition, training and responsibility. This document will serve as a reference for the scientific community and progressive forces. The WFSW and its affiliated organizations will act to promote this document among scientists and populations so as to influence decision-makers.
▪ Activity 2: the anti-precariousness campaign. The growth in the number of researchers in the world is accompanied by the privatization of scientific activity and the increasingly precarious situation of scientists, in particular young people and women. In view of this, the Federation launched a campaign in 2016 against precariousness in research by converging toward a World Day, which was held on March 15, 2017. This campaign made it possible to organize initiatives in a certain number of European countries, Spain, France, and Portugal, as well as here in Senegal, and also in Algeria, Canada, and Russia. We were aware of the difficulty in bringing all organizations of scientists to participate, but the very success of this day and the continual worsening of precariousness confirm our belief in the need to pursue this campaign. %%%
▪ A project: in close cooperation with our UNESCO group, we propose to UNESCO to create an international Forum on Science in 2018, confirmed by the UNESCO Liaison Committee with NGOs. This forum will enable us to examine further the ongoing scientific and technological transformations such as the spreading of digital technology in human activities, the imposition of private management, of short-term thinking, and innovation on basic research. It will also enable us to exchange about the representations of science among populations and about mankind’s needs for knowledge to guarantee its future.
4) The “UNESCO” DAKAR UNESCO group
The participation of the WFSW in the works of UNESCO has been pursued in a positive manner in three directions.
1: The updating of the 1974 Recommendation concerning the condition of scientific researchers submitted to our affiliated organizations led to several amendments which were accepted. The new Recommendation was adopted by the 39th general conference of UNESCO on November 10, 2017 (see documents of Working Group3). Our links with the persons in charge of this question that UNESCO certainly influenced the final result, which is very positive.
2: The first stage of the training plan for hydrologists and water technicians in Africa, a project initiated by WFSW, was carried out successfully: 14 trainees from Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Madagascar, equally divided between men and women, were trained at the “2iE” Institute in Burkina Faso. This project was funded by the UNESCO Participation Program. The second stage is now underway. It is aimed at 20 to 30 trainees from six countries: Chad, Senegal, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger. For us, this project is the practical implementation of the idea that we promote at international “Turn Words into Acts” UNESCO-NGO Forums.
3: In March 2016 the WFSW propose to UNESCO that an International Forum on Science be held. We proposed different themes to the UNESCO-NGO Liaison Committee, which took the formal decision to organize this event. We are now at this stage of setting up a steering committee in which each an in-depth discussion on the content will take place. The planned date is in September or October 2018. The place for this meeting is now being sought. This decision belongs to UNESCO. Negotiations are underway for this event to be held in Russia. Details are included in the dossiers which have been provided to you.
V. The tasks of this 22nd General Assembly
1) To hold good meetings throughout the entire week at which experts can speak out, with a maximum of attendees. The International Secretariat, the Organization Commission, and the Paris Bureau have made meticulous preparations, have sent out broad invitations, and have called for presentations. The fact that so many of you are here proves the quality of this preparation, and augurs well for a rich harvest of analyses and proposals.
2) May this rich harvest motivate the drafting or at least the outlines of declarations, letters and appeals from our Assembly.
3) Starting with this week’s presentations and debates, derive priorities for activity over the coming four years, establish the roadmap, as we say, including projects and initiatives whose relevance is such that they will be supported and promoted by affiliated organizations and even beyond the Federation.
4) This Assembly is an elected Congress. It must proceed to renew its different bodies. There is no doubt that with the questionnaires sent out by organizations, and thanks to the best attendance since 20 years, we will build determined, pluralistic and truly representative teams.
5) We will finally study the results that I briefly enumerated in chapter 3 when examining the difficulties and how to overcome them: in particular the site and lists for dissemination, the newsletter which should be regular and receive contributions from member organizations.
6) Systematically involve – as we have done this year – the members of the Executive Committee – in preparing declarations, open letters, press releases. This associates organizations with our work, with a view toward democracy and efficacy so as to spread our ideas as widely as possible.
7) Seek to expand through our presence at congresses, conferences, WFSW forums, and also through the development of individual membership.
8) Maitain links with associations, networks and international trade union federations, and with movements with specific aims like the “march for science”, the “appeal of the 15,000”.
9) It would be good to conduct an initial study of the places and dates of the coming Executive Council meetings.
It is with this non-exhaustive list of proposals that I will end this somewhat lengthy overview. I admit that it is long, and I justify this because of the twofold function of this Assembly, like that of our annual Executive Council. Our meeting is above all the legislative body of our Federation, which builds our policy, our four-year mandate, and elects the Executive in charge of implementation. But this meeting is also a privileged time and place to present “live” what we are, what we do before colleagues who are participating for the first time.
Thank you for your attention, and I wish you fruitful work.
I invite all of you – as this is a public initiative open to all – to attend the symposium that will be held here tomorrow, beginning at 9:30 in the morning. The topic is “Science and Sustainable Development for Africa and by Africa”.