I  U  P  A  C

Vice President's Critical Assessment - 1997


Chemistry historically emerged and developed as an interdisciplinary scientific field, with a rather subjective definition of its borders. Paraphrasing the definition of Linus Pauling of the chemical bond "whatever is convenient to the chemist to define as a bond", chemistry can be defined as a discipline encompassing all areas which are of interest for chemists and where molecular science makes significant contributions. The rich and diverse world of modern chemistry encompasses remarkable intellectual accomplishments, scientific creativity and originality and the generation of new knowledge in the realm of academic research, in conjunction with high-quality, well-focused, mission-oriented activities in the realm of industrial research. The quality, relevance and remarkable scope of modern chemistry should preclude any "identity crises in chemistry", sometimes manifested in the chemistry science and education community regarding the future of chemistry as a central scientific discipline. In this broad context IUPAC serves as the international, professional, authoritative, independent and objective voice on the global issues of chemistry.

The responsibility for the conduct of the worldwide activities of IUPAC rests on the Council, the Statutory bodies and on the Officers of the Union. The Officers of the Union, the Division Presidents, and the Chairmen of Commissions and Committees, among others, perform voluntary, international public service on behalf of the world chemistry community. The resources of the Union constitute international public funds which should be allocated with great caution to optimize the impact of IUPAC's activities on the advancement of international chemistry and on the service of chemistry to society and to world needs.

We addressed a central question whether the structure of IUPAC is adequate to fulfill the Union's goals and future mission. Problems with which science and society are faced today are complex and require a reassessment of scientific policy considerations, and an implementation of evolutionary changes in the function and structure of the Union. IUPAC serves the international scientific endeavour in the dual function of a basic science and a mission-oriented Union. The Union has a unique position for future potential contributions to the central interdisciplinary scientific discipline of chemistry, strengthening international chemistry, striving towards inspiring high standards of excellence and relevance in academic and industrial research and promoting the service of chemistry to society and to global issues, shaping IUPAC's activities towards the 21st century.

Prof. J. Jortner

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