I  U  P  A  C


Vice President's Critical Assessment - 1997


The broad current spectrum of the core activities contributes towards IUPAC goals and adheres to the principles. The general framework of the core activities should be maintained, with changes, extensions and additions. It may be useful to subdivide the core activities as follows:


A1. IUPAC Congresses.
In the past, some of the biennial Congresses of IUPAC constituted an outstanding forum for the presentation of modern trends and frontiers of chemical research. Typical (though random) examples constitute the 1955 Congress in Switzerland and the 1969 Congress in Australia. It appears that during the last decade erosion of the quality has occurred, with the Congresses manifesting lack of scientific focus and exhibiting good, but not outstanding, plenary and invited presentations. Furthermore, there was very limited involvement of IUPAC bodies in the scientific planning and the thematic organization. It was felt that IUPAC should strive towards the redefinition of the format, scope, means of scientific organization and the involvement of its bodies in the planning, shaping and executing of the scientific program of the Congresses. In 1994 the Bureau and the Council approved a new format for the IUPAC Congresses, based on the following elements: (1) Goals. The IUPAC Congress should constitute a central, high-quality, international event in modern chemistry. (2) Format and name. The Congress will be named 'IUPAC Congress on Frontiers in Chemistry'. It will focus on several topics at the frontiers of modern chemistry. In addition, the organizing country will be welcome to advance one modern research area of local interest. It is aimed that this new format for the biennial Congress will attract about 1000 scientists, ensuring effective scientific communication and information exchange. The rules for scientific planning and organization, together with the appointment of the International Advisory Board and of the Local Organizing Committee, were approved. The new rules for the IUPAC Congress were brought as optional suggestions to the Swiss Chemical Society, who kindly organizes the 1997 IUPAC Congress in Geneva. The full changes will be implemented for the 1999 IUPAC Congress in Berlin, organized by the German Society of Chemists.

A2. IUPAC Sponsored Symposia and Workshops.
These provide a good service to the chemistry community and should be continued. It should be noted, however, that (i) the quality of the Symposia and workshops is heterogeneous and (ii) the involvement of IUPAC bodies in the scientific planning and thematic organization of these IUPAC sponsored activities is usually quite minor, although IUPAC sponsorship is helpful for the enhancement of the visibility of its activities. Without invoking any organizational changes, IUPAC should consider the implementation of symposia or workshops on topics at the frontiers of modern chemistry (some current random examples are supermolecular chemistry, cluster chemistry, surface chemistry and tunneling microscopy, nanometer technology, molecular electronics, neural network computing and femtosecond dynamics). This activity will help the chemistry community to focus on emerging important research fields, which are of great significance to science and to future industrial applications.

A3. Modes of International Collaboration.
New modes of international cooperation and information exchange should be considered. Scientific networks, involving geographically spread research groups in well defined novel fields, exchanging information and organizing workshops, were successfully initiated by the European Science Foundation. IUPAC should explore the feasibility of the establishment of international networks in some selected modern areas of chemistry.

A4. Encouragement of Young Scientists.
These issues pertain to the inspiration and involvement of the young generation of chemists in the IUPAC Congresses. Two avenues should be pursued. Firstly, outstanding young research chemists should be encouraged to present invited lectures and contribute to symposia within the framework of the IUPAC Congress. Secondly, young research workers and graduate students should be encouraged to attend the Congress. In developed countries support for these young scientists should be solicited from local bodies supporting basic and applied research. In developing countries attempts should be made to secure support for the attendance of young scientists for international agencies, e.g., UNESCO.


B1. Pure and Applied Chemistry (PAC).
This constitutes the official Journal of the Union. At one time the Journal made significant contributions to worldwide communications in the chemical science. Through this journal IUPAC disseminates recommendations on chemical terminology and methods and publishes lectures from many of its symposia. The PAC consists of two parts:

  • Part A. Topical publication of IUPAC Congresses and Symposia.
  • Part B. Technical information on nomenclature, standards, codification and recommendations.

It has been suggested to split the publication of PAC into two separate parts. However, such a separation of PAC is not advantageous, as it will result in a serious decrease in the circulation of the journal and diminish the scope of the spread of chemical information. Instead, in the future PAC has to adapt to major current changes in the spread of scientific information. This will require modifications in the contents of Part A and modernization of access to information in Part B.

Two major trends in scientific information spread and retrieval make the reassessment of the future content and mode of publication of PAC imperative. Firstly, the proliferation of scientific information raises serious questions regarding Part A of PAC, which must become scientifically more attractive. Secondly, the emerging of new modes of electronic publication will have an audible impact on the PAC in the future. The proliferation of scientific information requires uniqueness of the contents of Part A. This can be accomplished by several parallel approaches. The publication of topical special issues each addressing an emerging research field (e.g., nanometer chemistry, molecular electronics, biological chemistry) will be of primary importance in information spread on frontline chemical research areas, which are still in formative stages. Each such topical special issue will be handled by an authoritative guest editor. Furthermore, it is recommended not to publish the entire Symposia Proceedings, but only the plenary and invited lectures, possibly in extended form. The transfer to electronic publication for both parts A and B requires careful planning. The electronic version of PAC should not provide just computer page imaging. Rather, it must be supplemented by added value information retrieval for part A (e.g., text search, accessibility of references and their authors, imaging of three dimensional chemical and biological structures) and computer access in part B. It is recommended that PAC will remain integrated, with modification of the topical presentation in part A and with subsequent adoption of added value elements in future electronic publication for the presentation of both parts A and B.

B2. Chemistry International.
This should constitute a central source of worldwide news in chemical research and education and a source of information on the current activities of IUPAC. Three extensions of this publication are proposed. First, extension of the scope of subjects of general interest to the international chemical community, so that the journal will provide an international version of reports on highlights of chemical research, similar to those presented in Nature and in Science (on broader scientific developments) and in Chemical and Engineering News or in Chemistry in Britain (on the local national level). Some good progress was made during the last two years in the presentation of reviews of new research fields in chemistry. Second, reviews on the state of chemical research and education in various countries should be presented. Third, general issues pertaining to chemistry and society, e.g., scientific aspects of reduction of chemical weapons, ethics in science and science policy problems related to chemistry, should be addressed. Chemistry International should be extended to contribute to international communication in the world chemical community, assist relevant information flow to developing countries, highlight central issues of chemistry, enhance the visibility of the Union and provide an instrument for the Union to serve as "A voice for Chemistry".

B3. Chemistry for the 21st Century.
This is an excellent program which made significant contributions to the spread of information on high-quality frontline research fields and on mission oriented activities in chemistry sponsored by IUPAC. Recent volumes published or planned include high temperature superconductivity, chemistry of advanced materials, perspectives in catalysis, medicinal chemistry, chemistry of the atmosphere and global change, ultrafast processes in chemistry and photobiology, and molecular electronics. There were also plans to publish, within the framework of this series, the proceedings of some of the CHEMRAWN conferences (VII and VIII) on Chemistry and the Atmosphere - Impact on Global Change and on Chemistry and Sustainable Development. Publication of the important proceedings of the CHEMRAWN Conferences within this series is eroding its uniqueness, and these proceedings should be published outside this series. The excellent program of Chemistry for the 21st Century will be terminated towards 1999. Any continuation, or updating should depend on the availability of good and timely monographs edited by outstanding scientists.

B4. White Books.
This new publication program will present an integrated scientific and mission-oriented overviews of significant problems with large-scale scientific-industrial-environmental implication. Each White Book will contain articles by leading scientific and industrial leaders. The first White Book on chlorine has been published as a special issue of PAC and has impact on the industrial chemistry community. The good and significant program of White Books should be continued.

B5. New Modes of Information Transfer.
These involve information transfer in scientific research and education. The use of computer communication and the internet in chemical information transfer will become widespread. Added value electronic publication modes should be adopted for PAC parts A and B. Consider preparation of Video programs of selected plenary lectures at IUPAC Congresses.


This may involve an extension of IUPAC's activities in the enhancement of high-quality scientific research on the international level. New research fields in chemistry are characterized by:

  • High-quality, significant recent scientific developments;
  • Cutting edge for new technologies;
  • International dimensions.

The identification of such new research fields is of considerable significance for the international research community, for the chemical industry and for national and regional bodies interested in the enhancement of international collaboration of their members. The involvement of IUPAC in the identification, characterization and recommendations concerning new research fields will render valuable international service and will also be useful for the internal activities of the Divisions. It is recommended to explore the feasibility of setting a working group on new research fields. The mode of activity can involve a workshop followed by a dual report including one part for the scientific community followed by a second part for the decision makers in science. A necessary condition for success will be the involvement of scientific leadership in this endeavour. Some of these activities may be conducted in collaboration with and support of national bodies who are interested in the international dimension of chemical research.


The activities of the Union in this important area should rest on:

  1. Independence and objectivity of IUPAC, which should lead to an authoritative approach.
  2. Responsibility for chemistry on the international scene.
  3. Reduction of conflicts between governmental, scientific and industrial interests.

A most important contribution of IUPAC to society will involve coordination of the advancement of scientific-chemical education (section E).

Outstanding current activities of IUPAC, i.e., the CHEMRAWN program and the scientific aspects of destruction of chemical weapons, should be continued. The two newly formed divisions of Chemistry and the Environment and Chemistry and Health have to formulate plans of activity. The biennial joint UNESCO-IUPAC program on 'Chemistry for Life and the Environment" (section G1) will address global problems of scientific education and science policy issues. IUPAC should consider becoming involved in some strategic issues of chemical research (e.g., chemical production techniques optimizing conservation of energy and raw materials, and global sustainable development). Such activities will require collaboration of the chemical community with industry and with other international bodies.


The central issue of science education in general, and education in chemistry in particular, pertains to the preservation and advancement of global human capital. Meaningful contributions to this endeavour constitute a major challenge for the Union. IUPAC, as an international worldwide organization, must consider in this context the diversity of cultural approaches and the different conditions and needs in distant parts of the world. IUPAC should consider to contribute in a selective way to educational programs on all levels, i.e., professional training, university undergraduate and graduate education, secondary and even elementary school education. It should be emphasized that chemistry, due to its interdisciplinary nature, provides the basis for scientific training in the natural sciences. The problems facing the global chemistry education system involve the erosion of scope and quality of science education, resulting in science illiteracy in the developed world and the need for qualified scientific manpower in the developing world. The Committee on Teaching in Chemistry (CTC) is involved in aspects of chemistry teaching on the secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels.

It is imperative to realize that education on all levels is a local governmental responsibility. The involvement of IUPAC should rest on:

(1) Formulation of guidelines based on international experience, authority and objectivity and
(2) Initiation of specific high-impact small-scale programs.

On the level of secondary school education, the contribution of IUPAC should undertake

  • The formulation of recommendations for the teaching of chemistry.
    These authoritative recommendations should emphasize the nature of chemistry as an experimental science. Another aspect involves addressing possibilities of small-scale instrumentation and experimentation ('chemistry in the kitchen'), which was undertaken by the CTC.
  • To serve as a clearing house for information on the teaching of chemistry.
    The assembly, analysis and distribution of such information will be valuable. The Newsletter on chemical education undertaken by the CTC will be useful in this context.

On the level of university education the interface between academic and industrial training should be emphasized. A set of recommendations concerning the research and manpower needs of the chemical industry could be considered.

It is a major responsibility of the developed world to help in setting up the science education infrastructure in developing countries. In the realm of chemistry professional training programs in emerging countries (section G) are being pursued. This activity should be aimed towards capacity building. The UNESCO-IUPAC International Chemistry Council is involved in planning of well selected programs in the areas of education activities and infrastructure building in emerging countries.


This is a crucial aspect in the international activities of IUPAC which presumably should also encompass activities in newly formed countries. Possible approaches are:

  • Encouragement of young scientists. Travel grants for attendance of IUPAC congresses and symposia.
  • Assistance in chemical research and education planning.
  • Involvement in new modes of information transfer.
  • Establishment of regional chemical research centers in developing countries. The UNESCO-IUPAC International Chemistry Council (section G) is considering the planning of an African Center for Chemistry.
  • Education programs in specific areas of chemistry in developing countries. It was proposed by Division IV that such programs may involve modern means of communications (internet) between more advanced and less developed countries. An alternative approach will be to set up specific programs for scientists from emerging countries, to be supported by international bodies, i.e., UNESCO. The UNESCO-IUPAC International Chemistry Council (section G) is involved in the planning of specific education programs in developing countries.
  • A "peace corps" like program. This was suggested by Division IV. More general aspects of a "peace corps" scientific program were raised by ICSU. It is suggested to explore the possibility to establish a program for young graduates in chemistry to spend 1-2 years donating their time to help in developing a technological and scientific infrastructure in emerging countries. Many young scientists would greatly benefit from such an experience. A definition of goals, opportunities and means of support is required. Collaboration with ICSU and with UNESCO will be desirable. It should be borne in mind that a major part of the developing countries are not a part of IUPAC. UNESCO should be able to provide adequate liaisons.


G1. Cooperation with UNESCO. A biennial IUPAC-UNESCO program was established on 'Chemistry for Life and Environment'. A Board of Trustees, the 'International Chemistry Council' (ICC) consisting of distinguished scientists, was established under the co-chairmanship of the UNESCO director general and the IUPAC president. Concurrently, an executive body was appointed. The ICC is preparing programs on education in chemistry in developing countries, on the establishment of a regional African Center for Chemistry, on networks and fellowships for Latin America, on global topics of water and energy and on public scientific issues.

G2. The Extension of Collaboration with Neighboring Scientific Organizations will be desirable. The interdisciplinary nature of chemistry requires enhanced cooperation with neighboring scientific unions, e.g., biochemistry and physics. The first step should involve organization of joint symposia with these unions.

G3. The Extension of the Scope of Collaboration with ICSU will be desirable. Some of the strategic issues, e.g., young scientists, research planning in newly formed countries, research and education in developing countries, scientific "Peace Corp" program, and ethics in science, can constitute the basis for cooperation with ICSU.


Most urgent and important is the recruitment of high-quality academic and industrial scientists for the activities of IUPAC. The avoidance of "self breeding" in the Union activities is imperative. The involvement of high-quality scientists will enhance the quality, relevance, uniqueness, interdisciplinary nature and visibility of the Union's activities. Indeed, these elements should attract some of the prominent scientists who extend the horizons of chemistry and those working on the borderlines of chemistry and biology or chemistry and materials science to contribute to IUPAC activities.

Another related important issue involves mechanisms for the encouragement of young scientists. Involvement of young, high-quality, scientists in IUPAC congresses, symposia and workshops (section A4) will serve this goal. The Union should consider the establishment of two fellowships, one for science writing and one for the best Ph.D thesis by a student from a developing country (completed during the last three years). These fellowships will convey a dual message regarding the promotion of science and of science communication.


In Table 2 we provide an overview of the compatibility of the core activities with the science policy principles, as outlined in the previous chapter.


Table 2.a Scientific Meetings
Table 2.b Publications
Tabel 2.c Other Core Activities


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