Believing that it is our responsibility to address from our particular disciplines the most dangerous and destructive activities of our species, violence and war; recognizing that science is a human cultural product which cannot be definitive or all encompassing; and gratefully acknowledging the support of the authorities of Seville and representatives of the Spanish Unesco, we, the undersigned scholars from around the world and from relevant sciences, have met and arrived at the following Statement on Violence. In it, we challenge a number of alleged biological findings that have been used, even by some in our disciplines, to justify violence and war. Because the alleged findings have contributed to an atmosphere of pessimism in our time, we submit that the open, considered rejection of these mis-statements can contribute significantly to the International Year of Peace.

Misuse of scientific theories and data to justify violence and war is not new but has been made since the advent of modern science. For example, the theory of evolution has been used to justify not only war, but also genocide, colonialism, and suppression of the weak.


This is not the first time that Unesco has dealt with the misuse of scientific theories. Unesco, with the rest of the United Nations, was created after World War II to ensure that such a war would not occur again. That war had been made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of humanity, and by the propagation in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of humanity and races. The doctrine of inequality had been justified by pseudo-scientific theories.

Beginning in 1950, Unesco convened a series of meetings of scientific experts who issued formal declarations on the subject of race. They asserted the fundamental unity of humanity and declared that we all belong to the same species. They said that the concept of race reflected a social image bound up with the physical appearance of individuals, rather than a scientific fact based on specific biological data.

Recognizing the work of these experts, Unesco declared in 1978 that all scientists have a special responsibility. They should ensure, by all means available to them, that their research findings in the field of racial prejudice and practices are not misinterpreted. They should also assist the public in understanding such findings.

The responsibility was broadened at a meeting of scientists in Athens in 1981. Although the scientists had been convened by Unesco to continue the work against the misuse of science for purposes of racism and racial discrimination, it was suggested that similar work should be carried out against the misuse of scientific concepts to justify domination and violence. Anthropologist Santiago Genoves pointed out misconceptions which arise from the careless use of scientific concepts, including a) confusion between the kinds of violence observable in most animals and those observed in humans; b) confusion between survival of the fittest and survival of the strongest; and c) confusion between natural causes and cultural causes.

That was the origin of the meeting in Seville.