These guidelines set out the Academy’s policy on holding international meetings in Australia. The objective of this policy is to allow the Academy to invite International Unions and other scientific members of the ICSU family to hold international congresses, general assemblies and similar meetings, while at the same time, help the meeting organisers financially and in other ways without exposing the Academy to unknown or unlimited liability. The policy also applies to meetings of international bodies outside the umbrella of ICSU, for which the Academy has been asked to issue an invitation.
International science meetings are an important means of communication among the scientific community. Major scientific international meetings, organised within individual disciplines, are convened on a regular, cyclical basis with the meeting locations rotating among interested countries. It is important for Australia to take its turn as a site for such meetings; particularly those sponsored by international organisations in which Australian researchers are active participants.
On behalf of the Australian research community, the Australian Academy of Science, serves as the adhering body of the major international, nongovernmental, disciplinary unions, which have as one of their prime tasks the sponsorship of scientific meetings. Most of these disciplinary unions are affiliated with the International Council for Science (ICSU), to which the Academy also adheres. As the adhering body, the Academy has responsibilities in relation to international meetings held in Australia under the auspices of these bodies.
In Australia, the organisation of international meetings requires the assistance and cooperation of a number of domestic institutions both private and public. These include the Academy, scientific societies, universities, research institutes and industries, as well as governmental bodies at both the federal and state levels.
For all types of meetings it can be anticipated that the appropriate National Committee and the Academy, will be involved to some extent. The measure of involvement will vary, depending on the circumstances of each meeting and the responsibilities that will have been agreed upon with respect to the designation of an organising body to handle the necessary fiscal and administrative arrangements, issuance of the invitation, and sponsorship.
This document sets out the Academy’s policy on holding international meetings in Australia. The objective of this policy is to allow the Academy to invite International Unions and other scientific members of the ICSU family to hold international congresses, general assemblies and similar meetings, while at the same time, help the meeting organisers financially and in other ways without exposing the Academy to unknown or unlimited liability. The policy also applies to meetings of international bodies outside the umbrella of ICSU, for which the Academy has been asked to issue an invitation.
It is central to this policy that there is only one organising body which will have responsibility for the logistical and financial aspects of the meeting. Responsibility for selecting or establishing the organising body rests with the sector of the Australian research community that requests the Academy to issue the invitation. The organising body (designated corporate agent) may choose to subcontract aspects of the meeting (eg the scientific programme or the day-to-day administration) and enter into agreements (such as leases) with other parties but the Academy as adhering body and issuer of the invitation will have a relation only with the organising body not with any subcontractors.
As the Australian adhering organisation of the international body, the Academy should receive periodic reports from the organising body. Therefore, National Committees are responsible for keeping abreast of plans for the meeting. An organising body or corporate agent must be identified before an invitation is issued. This body must be technically competent to run the meeting, and must be likely to be in existence when the meeting occurs and the extent of any liability becomes apparent (which may be 10 or more years after the invitation is issued). If no suitable organising body can be identified, no invitation can be issued.
For meetings held under the sponsorship of the ICSU unions or committees, the letter of invitation is normally issued by the President of the Academy, following discussion and approval by the Council of the Academy. The request to the President for such a letter is based on the recommendation of the appropriate National Committee and the agreement of the Academy’s Foreign Secretary.
Early communication and continuous consultation by the meeting organisers with the Academy and the National Committee is strongly recommended – preferably twelve months before the meeting at which it is intended to submit the invitation and well before any signals are sent to the ICSU body as to the likelihood of an invitation from Australia – so that initiators have a clear understanding of the Academy’s policy and responsibilities that will fall to them. The formal approach to the Academy should be not less than six months before the meeting, so that the Council of the Academy can give full consideration.
The Academy will issue an invitation only if it is satisfied that it has the broad support of the scientific community and that it will not incur any unacceptable liability by issuing such an invitation.
The organising body must accept, in writing, full responsibility for ensuring that the meeting takes place. It must, in effect, have a contract with the ICSU body to deliver the meeting, so that if for any reason the meeting does not materialise, that is a matter for the organising body and the ICSU body, and neither the ICSU body or the organising body will have a claim on the Academy.
The organising body and the ICSU body must agree between them to accept full responsibility for the finance of the meeting and for any costs or liabilities that may arise in connection with the meeting.
The ICSU body must confirm that, in respect to the meeting, any explicit or implicit responsibility falling on the Academy as adhering body has been negated, and either absorbed by the ICSU body or reassigned to the organising body.
The above conditions must be met before the Academy can issue an invitation.
Meetings held under the auspices of an international organisation are normally considered to be sponsored by those bodies. It will be a matter of negotiation whether the Academy and/or other appropriate national groups or institutions also wish to be listed as official sponsors. Such multiple sponsorship may depend on possible financial and other material assistance offered.
There are other organisational matters on which all responsible partners must collaborate to assure that the necessary action is taken to achieve a successful meeting. These include, but may not be limited to:
In some cases, this will be the responsibility of the sponsoring international organisations with little or no involvement by the local organising committee. In other instances, it will devolve completely on the host organisation(s) to determine the program design; topics, speakers, and publication plans. In both cases, however, some consultation between the international and local bodies is required.
It is the responsibility of the designated corporate agent to establish a local organising committee. This committee, which is responsible for assuring that the necessary logistical and hospitality matters are attended to through organised volunteers or through a contract by the corporate agent with a professional congress organiser.
It is the expectation of the Academy that international scientific meetings held in Australia at the invitation of the Academy will be self-supporting. This means that appropriate registration fees must be set by the responsible group(s) and realistic expectations developed with respect to anticipated income and expenditures. Other aspects, which must be considered, include start-up funding, identification of potential funders (governmental and nongovernmental), proposal preparation, etc. Appropriate offices of the Academy could be consulted for advice and assistance in these matters.
International scientific meetings held in Australia are of value to Australian researchers and provide a welcome opportunity to demonstrate the Australian commitment to international scientific cooperation. They offer young Australian researchers the prospect of establishing valuable professional contacts with colleagues from abroad and frequently have important economic and political benefits for the country as a whole. The Australian Academy of Science recognises its role as the Australian member of ICSU and its constituent unions to facilitate the hosting of successful international scientific meetings in Australia. It is prepared to pursue actively the responsibilities that have been outlined in this document, thereby demonstrating its strong commitment to the Australian research community and to international scientific cooperation.
© 2022 Australian Academy of Science