|Science and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)|
Vice-Rector, United Nations University
I have the pleasant obligation to express the gratitude of the UN University to the University of Belgrade, through its Rector, Prefessor Pecujlic, for having accepted to co-sponsor this seminar.
I want also to express, in the name of all the non-Yugoslav participants, our deep appreciation for the hospitality of our colleagues from this great country. I must not fail to insist on the fact that it is especially fortunate that we could hold this seminar in this country, which is indeed the meeting place between East and West, and North and South, since here we can best acquire a good sense about the transformation of the world.
Nowadays, science and technology are treated with a much more critical mind than before, mainly for the following two reasons.
Firstly, because science and technology tend to be monopolized by the major powers, monopolizing knowledge in view of their nuclear hegemony. This creates a hierarchical world order with the super-powers on the top and the developing countries on the bottom.
Secondly, because the R & D activities in science and technology tend to give a disproportionate advantage to big science and big technology through overly centralized management systems' often losing sight of the diversity of local needs and environmental conditions.
Yugoslavia, through its non-aligned position, takes a position clearly most relevant to the first aspect I have just mentioned. Through its experiment in self-management and decentralization, it provides also an interesting answer to the second problem mentioned above.
This is why the UN University is extremely happy to hold this seminar in this great country. The UN University tries to become an international scientific forum of researchers of different cultural backgrounds and ideologies, and who hold different paradigms. This is a difficult task, especially when it has to deal with problems so controversial as the one to be treated in this seminar.
Many international organizations which seek to produce reports at the end of their expert meetings are stressing the points of agreement, emphasizing consensus. The UN University encourages rather diversifying views and a frank and critical debate aiming at determining clearly the roots of divergence's. This approach, only possible within a university, must make the UN University a place where new alternative perspectives on the world in transformation can be formulated freely by the researchers collaborating with this institution.
This is why I urge all the participants of this meeting to feel free to disagree. We share, I hope, at least a common interest in ascertaining that science and technology serve humanity and guarantee its survival, and not that science and technology serve the cause of the destruction of human life, welfare, and development.
Being sure to agree on this essential point I call upon all the participants of this seminar to contribute, to sharpen this debate which is of special relevance in the UN calendar coming as it does after the UNCSTD Conference in Vienna. Thus it is at this historical moment that I call upon all the participants to put forth their reflections on Science and Technology in the Transformation of the World.