International Council for Science

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The International Council for Science (ICSU), formerly called the International Council of Scientific Unions, was founded in 1931 as an international non-governmental organization devoted to international co-operation in the advancement of science. Its members are national scientific bodies, and international scientific unions, including the International Mathematical Union, the International Astronomical Union and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Mission and principles

To identify and address major issues of importance to science and society, by mobilising the resources and knowledge of the international scientific community; to promote the participation of all scientists, irrespective of race, citizenship, language, political stance or gender in the international scientific endeavour; to facilitate interactions between different scientific disciplines and between scientists from ‘Developing’ and ‘Developed’ countries; to stimulate constructive debate by acting as an authoritative independent voice for international science and scientists.

ICSU was founded to bring together natural scientists in international scientific endeavour. As of 2007[update], it comprises 113 multi-disciplinary National Scientific Members, Associates and Observers (scientific research councils or science academies) representing 133 countries and 29 international, single-discipline Scientific Unions. ICSU also has 24 Scientific Associates.

An ICSU fundamental principle is that of science's universality, which affirms the right and freedom of scientists to associate in international scientific activity without regard to such factors as race, citizenship, language, political stance, or gender.

The Council acts as a focus for the exchange of ideas and information and the development of standards. Hundreds of congresses, symposia and other scientific meetings are organized each year around the world, and a wide range of newsletters, handbooks and journals is published.


The principal source of ICSU's finances is the contributions it receives from its members. Other sources of income are the framework contracts from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and grants and contracts from United Nations bodies, foundations and agencies, which are used to support the scientific activities of the ICSU Unions and interdisciplinary bodies.

Member Scientific Unions

  • International Astronomical Union
  • International Brain Research Organization
  • International Geographical Union
  • International Mathematical Union
  • International Union for Quaternary Research
  • International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
  • International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences
  • International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • International Union of Biological Sciences
  • International Union of Crystallography
  • International Union of Food Science and Technology

  • International Union of Forest Research Organizations
  • International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
  • International Union of Geological Sciences
  • International Union of History and Philosophy of Science
  • International Union of Immunological Societies
  • International Union of Materials Research Societies
  • International Union of Microbiological Societies
  • International Union of Nutritional Sciences
  • International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics
  • International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

  • International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
  • International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine
  • International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology
  • International Union of Physiological Sciences
  • International Union of Psychological Science
  • International Union of Soil Sciences
  • International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
  • International Union of Toxicology
  • Union Radio Scientifique Internationale


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