On December 13, 2022, the Presidency of the Republic presented an initiative for a general law on the humanities, sciences, technologies and innovation. This initiative aims to expand and consolidate a series of recent reforms to federal regulations on science and technology through a higher order legal instrument, such as the common law.
For the Jesuit universities in Mexico, including ITESO, it is appropriate to point out that promoting scholarly work, benefiting from and accessing technical and scientific progress without discrimination; freedom of research and opportunities to contribute to scholarly activity; The participation of individuals and societies in adopting public decisions about science and technology, and the existence of enabling environments for their preservation, development and dissemination, are rights recognized in the Charter of the Organization of American States, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the Declaration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Constitution Politician of the United Mexican States, reported by ITESO in a public statement.
Like previous years’ reforms to the legal framework for this matter, such as those introduced into the Regulations for the National System of Investigators (SNI) in 2021 and 2022, this new initiative deeply worries us for being regressive in terms of human rights. . Next, we comment on the aspects that cause us the most anxiety, along with the aspects that we value as positive:
1) We recognize the value of including the humanities in the federal agenda for scholarly production. The tearing of the social fabric we are witnessing in the country makes a humanistic – rather than a mere technical – approach necessary to national problems.
2) We agree to encourage open access to information and research results generated by the country’s scientific, technological and humanities community. This appears to be the intent of the proposal to create a national information system: a kind of repository shared between higher education institutions (HEIs) and research centres.
3) In Article 31 of the Public Law Initiative, it vaguely refers to RCCs. The efforts made to establish horizontal and decentralized management mechanisms for scientific and technological activities are commendable. However, it is necessary to clarify how these committees are formed and to ensure the participation of representatives of higher education institutions and research centers, as well as the public and private sectors.
4) Article 34 of the initiative specifies the allocation of financial incentives to SNI members attached to public higher education institutions. As we have pointed out on several occasions, this measure involves unjustified preferential treatment for SNI members attached to private higher education institutions, and for this reason the initiative is clearly discriminatory, and even contrary to the provisions of Article III of the Political Constitution. . of the United Mexican States, as well as international treaties signed by the Mexican state, which enshrine the principle of equality and the human right to science. This right must be guaranteed equally and progressively. Arranging that incentive payments to SNI members linked to private higher education institutions must be borne by the institutions themselves implies the transfer to them of the Mexican state’s obligation to fulfill a fundamental right and limits the viability of private higher education institutions. Allocating, as for many years, they have provided resources to fund specific research projects and to develop the infrastructure for science and technology, as well as for the dissemination and dissemination of knowledge.
5) By not treating all people who produce knowledge in the same way, the bill threatens the ecosystem of knowledge generation and innovation in which researchers affiliated with universities, corporations, public and private research institutions, government, business organizations, and civil society organizations collaboratively participate. It is important to note that there have already been judicial decisions that have referred to the discriminatory requirement to distinguish between public and private institutions that this initiative intends to reproduce.
6) The priority of awarding scholarships for postgraduate studies stipulated in Article 39 of the initiative puts students enrolled in private higher education institutions at a disadvantage. By this, the discriminatory nature of the proposed systems towards a section of the population that decides, freely, to study in that institution that meets their academic expectations and interests is reinforced. This scale creates another barrier to the difficult path that Mexican students go through in their scientific career.
7) Article 64 of the Common Law Initiative describes the formation of the Board of Directors of the National Council, which includes only representatives of the secretariats of the Federal State. The most unfortunate thing is that there are no representatives of the national scientific community. In addition, it is necessary to include representatives of higher education institutions not located in Mexico City; Science and technology secretariats in federal entities. Besides the ex officio representatives, there is also the possibility that the Director-General may, in turn, invite six persons as he deems fit. It is stated that they may come from the scientific community (among other communities), but there is no obligation to do so. We consider it necessary that these invited people come from the scientific, technological and humanitarian community of the country.
8) The entire third chapter of the initiative provides that public research centers currently attached to Conacyt are distributed among state secretariats relevant to their research subjects (eg Colegio de la Frontera Norte could be based on SRE; CIDE could be attached to a ministry economy, etc.). This does not sound like a functional measure. Asymmetries will be created that will hinder management operations and joint research projects between institutions. In addition to the weakening of these centers and their loss of autonomy, which is necessary for the critical production of knowledge.
9) In terms of budget limits, the initiative represents a setback with respect to the existing law that established an annual commitment of 1% of GDP. For more than twenty years, international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and other evaluators who have conducted comparative studies across countries have asked Mexico to invest 1% of GDP in the matter. The Scientific Research and Development Support Act that does not contemplate a financial commitment cannot be applicable. Investment in the humanities, science, technology and innovation is necessary, stable and sufficient and not less than the previous year.
10) There is also a need for more clarity with regard to intellectual property rights so as not to raise disputes regarding international treaties and national legislation on this issue.
Eleven) We reiterate our deep concern about the various contents of the Common Law Initiative. To date, the common law initiative drafting process has been one-sided and exclusive. We trust that the principles of participatory democracy, favored by the discourse of the government and the political class as a whole, will be taken seriously and reflected in the deliberations that will take place in Congress on the common law initiative. For all of the above, from the Academic Council of the universities that make up the Jesuit university system, we demand from Congress a process of responsible, open, transparent, pluralistic and rigorous review and discussion of this public law initiative, ensuring the participation of all actors involved in the national ecosystem of science, technology and humanities, which requires implementation An open parliament. We are confident that the rest of the higher education institutions in the country, both public and private, will join this demand. The future of science and technology in the country is at stake.
Jesuit University System
Polycultural Higher Institute Ayuuk-Mixe Oaxaca
ITESO, Jesuit University of Guadalajara
Chalco Valley University of Technology
Iberoamerican University Mexico City
Iberoamerican University of Tijuana
Iberoamerican University of Lyon
Iberoamerican University of Puebla
Iberoamerican University of Torreon
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