Committee of Concerned Scientists

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Committee of Concerned Scientists (CCS) is an independent international organization devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom of scientists, physicians, and scholars.


The Committee was formed in 1972 in Washington and New York as an ad hoc group of scientists and scholars concerned about violations of academic freedom and persecution of scientists around the world.[1] (Sometimes the creation of the Committee is dated to 1973.[2])

Most of the activities of the Committee in the 1970s and 1980s were aimed to help refuseniks and dissident scholars in the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc countries.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The Committee lobbied both the Soviet and western governments on behalf of these oppressed scholars, provided moral and financial support to them and organized conferences and meetings of refuseniks, including in the Soviet Union itself. Sometimes the Concerned Scientists Committee is credited with having coined the actual term "refusenik".[9] The Committee played an active role in helping such Soviet dissidents as Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky, Yuri Orlov, Benjamin Levich, and others.[10]

Subsequently, CCS expanded its activities to pursue human rights and academic freedom issues in other countries. For example, CCS lobbied both the Chinese and the U.S. governments on behalf of the Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, who supported dissident students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. [11] After his immigration to the U.S., Fang Lizhi served on the CCS himself.[12] In 2001 the CCS lobbied the Russian government and the Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of a Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin, who was accused by the FSB (the successor agency to the KGB) of treason and espionage.[13]


The Committee issues an annual report about cases of abuse of academic freedom and human rights of scientists and scholars around the world.[14]


Prominent scientists who served on the CCS include a substantial number of Nobel Prize winners, such as Paul Flory,[15] Gerhard Herzberg,[16] David Baltimore, Owen Chamberlain, Jerome Karle, Walter Kohn, John Charles Polanyi, Charles Hard Townes, Steven Weinberg, Rosalyn Sussman Yalow,[17] and others.[18]

Mathematical physicist Joel Lebowitz has been the long-term co-chair of the CCS. Sophie Cook, a retired government lawyer and mediator, has served as executive director since 2008. She divides her time between New York City and Washington, D.C.


  1. ^ Gerhard Sonnert and Gerald James Holton. Ivory Bridges: Connecting Science and Society. MIT Press. March 2002. ISBN 978-0-262-19471-6; page 144.
  2. ^ Linda L. Lubrano. The political web of scientific cooperation between U.S.A. and USSR. In: Sectors of Mutual Benefit in U.S.-Soviet Relations. Nish Jamgotch (Editor). Duke University Press. April 1985. ISBN 978-0-8223-0606-1; page 60.
  3. ^ Robert Reinhold (26 September 1981). "Soviet Scientists Candor Earns U.S. Praise". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Making Helsinki matter." New Leader 11 August 1986.
  5. ^ "A Refusenik Finds His Academic Refuge. USC Provides Mathematician a Sanctuary to Renew Research That Was Denied by Soviets." Los Angeles Times 27 August 1986.
  6. ^ Soviet Union nondelivery of international mail : hearings before the Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth Congress, first session, on H. Con. Res. 58, July 2, 1979. U.S. Govt. Print. Off., Washington, 1979; pages 41-42.
  7. ^ Yakov M. Rabkin, Twentieth Century Fund. Science between the superpowers. Priority Press, New York, 1988. ISBN 0-87078-223-1; page 84.
  8. ^ CCS Letter to Marshall W. Nirenberg, June 29, 1983. The Marshall W. Nirenberg Papers. Profiles in Science. National Library of Medicine. Accessed June 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Leo Calvin Rosten. The Joys of Yinglish. McGraw-Hill, 1989. ISBN 0-07-053987-1; page 431.
  10. ^ Gerhard Sonnert and Gerald James Holton. Ivory Bridges: Connecting Science and Society. MIT Press March 2002. ISBN 978-0-262-19471-6; page 144.
  11. ^ Kirsty Sucato. Q&A; An Advocate for Oppressed Scientists. The New York Times, March 14, 1999.
  12. ^ Hilary Poole (Editor). Human rights: the essential reference. Greenwood Publishing Group. June 1999. ISBN 978-1-57356-205-8; page 189.
  13. ^ Joint Letter to President Vladimir Putin. Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine American Physical Society. Accessed June 28, 2008
  14. ^ Annual Reports of the Committee of Concerned Scientists. Committee of the Concerned Scientists. Accessed October 11, 2012
  15. ^ William S. Johnson, Walter H. Stockmayer and Henry Taube. John Paul Flory. In: Biographical Memoirs. vol. 82. National Academy of Sciences, National Academies Press. 2003; ISBN 0-309-08698-1; page 131
  16. ^ Henry H. Mantsch, Molecular spectroscopy with Gerhard Herzberg. Journal of Molecular Structure. Volumes 834-836, May 27, 2007; pages 2-6.
  17. ^ Committee of Concerned Scientists Leadership list. Committee of Concerned Scientists. Accessed October 11, 2012.
  18. ^ Raymond L. Gathoff. Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan. The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. 1994. ISBN 0-8157-3042-X; page 673.

External links[edit]