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IUCr 1997 Report - International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU)

The International Council of Scientific Unions has proposed a change in its structure and its name. According to the proposal, the General Committee, on which the Scientific Unions are represented, is to be abandoned, and many of its functions are to be taken over by the Executive Committee, including the nomination for new members of the Executive Committee. The Scientific Unions will continue to be represented in the General Assembly of ICSU. In connection with this change the name of the organization is to become ICSU: International Council for Science (note the mismatch between the acronym and the name). The changes are to be voted on in an Extraordinary General Assembly, to be held in Vienna, Austria, 25 April 1998, at which the IUCr will be represented by P. Coppens. The few Unions that have expressed an opinion on the proposed changes have come out mostly in the negative. It is not clear at the time of writing whether all of the changes will be approved by the General Assembly.

During 1997 J. Marton-Lefèvre stepped down as the Executive Director of ICSU. She was replaced by J.-F. Stuyck-Taillandier. ICSU has a large number of Committees and Groups dealing with issues that impact science. A Group on Data and Information was established to deal with the potential adverse effects of the new international property laws on the conduct of science and education. One of the aims of the Group is to induce national organizations to alert policy makers and legislators of the importance of the issue and its potential negative impact. The ICSU Press Committee was charged with the follow up of the Conference on Electronic Publishing, which took place in Paris in 1996. A workshop on the costs and benefits of electronic publishing is to be held in Oxford early in April 1998. The publishing programme of ICSU Press has been discontinued with the transfer of the last journal to a commercial publisher. Among the activities of ICSU's programme on Capacity Building in Science are enhancement of communication between scientists and the general public, and promotion of teacher training and education. A conference is to be organized in Brazil in September 1998. World Climate Research and the environment are among the other important concerns of ICSU.

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