Report on the administrative management of the International Academy of the History of Science, 2020-2023.

by Robert Halleux, Permanent Secretary a.i.

A : Legal framework

  1. The Academy is an association under French law, governed by the law of 1901 and having its headquarters in Paris. The current statutes and internal regulations were drawn up by an ad hoc committee, presented and discussed at the Council in 2010, submitted to members for comments in 2011 and 2012, modified after consultation by the said Council, submitted and unanimously approved at the General Assembly in Manchester in 2013.
    If a reform of the statutes is undertaken, the reform procedure must be identical to that carried out within the framework of the current statutes. Consequently, the General Assembly of 2023 will ask the next Council to create an ad hoc Commission to elaborate a text which will follow the same procedure and will be submitted to the vote at the General Assembly of 2025.
  2. All acts of administrative management 2020-2023 have strictly applied the law, the statutes, and the internal regulations. The elections were carried out by the ministry of a judicial officer, and this will continue to be done in the future. Disputes fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the administrative courts of Paris.
  3. All documents relating to the 2020-2023 management will be available for consultation without restriction at CAPHES after the General Assembly of September 15, 2023. The reports and minutes of this General Assembly will be on the Academy’s website, on an area reserved for members. The same will apply in the future for the minutes of Council meetings.
  4. The 2017-2020 period does not fall within my competence and this report does not concern it.

B : Report on collegial management from January 1, 2021 to December 18, 2021

Efthymios Nicolaidis resigned as Permanent Secretary on December 31, 2020. President Sergei Demidov has asked Robert Halleux, Honorary Permanent Secretary, to act as interim Permanent Secretary. However, article 7 of the interior regulations stipulates that “in case the Permanent Secretary dies or resigns before the end of his term, the Council will appoint, by preferance among its members, a substitute who will remain in office until a new Permanent Secretary is elected”. The Covid epidemic preventing any meeting of the Council, Robert Halleux proposed to the President a collegial management, with Jan Vandersmissen, treasurer, Chantal Grell, archivist, Matteo Martelli, webmaster, who accepted. All members of the Academy have been informed.
The management team carried out the following operations

  1. Update of the member list as many deaths were unknown.
  2. Website update.
  3. Change of the headquarters, given the difficulty of maintaining the link with the Paris Observatory; negotiations have been initiated with the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) with a view to domiciliation at CAPHES. These negotiations took two years.
    At its meeting of July 5, 2023, the ENS-PSL Board of Directors approved the request regarding the official seat of the Academy.
  4. Regularization of participation in the Union Académique Internationale (UIA) with appointment of a new delegate — Chantal Grell, director of the Hevelius project — until 2028.
  5. Organization of the Athenian Days. The Council of May 16, 2020 having decided to organize the Athenian Days of the Academy every 4 years, between two international congresses of the Union, including a general assembly of the Academy, the management team prepared the Days with local organizers on the basis of a contract signed with the Hellenic Research Foundation by President Sergei Demidov.
  6. Validation of the 2018 elections of effective and corresponding members. The entire file, i.e. 150 documents, a USB key and a summary, was first reviewed by Karine Chemla and Marco Beretta, scrutineers, and Efthymios Nicolaidis, organizer of the elections. It was submitted to Maître Margaux Coiffard-Herrbach, judicial officer in Montreuil (Paris) who issued her report on May 25, 2021.
  7. Convocation of a Council meeting for June 20, 2021, which could not take place because of Covid; 2nd convocation for December 18, 2021, sent to all Council members.

C : Management by the Interim Permanent Secretary from December 18, 2021 to September 15, 2023

The holding of a Council meeting at least once a year in Paris is required by law and by the statutes, article 7. The previous Council meetings took place on May 25, 2019 and May 16, 2020. As the General Assembly and the Council meeting planned in Prague in 2021 could not be held, the organization of a Council meeting was absolutely mandatory. Invitations have been sent to all members. The meeting was held at ENS on December 18, 2021. Six Board members were present. As no quorum is required, the meeting is legally valid. The following decisions were made:

  1. The unanimous designation of Robert Halleux as interim Permanent Secretary in charge of organizing the elections of the new Board and the new Permanent Secretary, by the ministry of a judicial officer.
  2. The unanimous awarding of the Academy’s prizes and distinctions, according to ancient tradition.
  3. Based on the judicial officer’s report, the Council validated the 2018 elections for purely legal and administrative reasons, without any judgment on the nature of the disputed facts. Indeed, it would have been impossible to organize the elections of the Board and the Permanent Secretary if the exact composition of the electorate had not been fixed beforehand. These decisions were communicated to all members in January 2022 with the annual letter from the Permanent Secretary a.i.
    No objections have been submitted through legal channels.

D : The elections

1 : Of the Board:
The Board is elected by the General Assembly (statutes, art. 8) made up of all active members (statutes, art. 10) i.e. those who have paid their dues (statutes, art. 5).
In accordance with tradition, the Council of December 18 proposed the renewal of its renewable members. The call for alternative candidatures was opened on March 1, 2022 and closed on March 31, 2022. All active members could apply. All candidates were invited to send the webmaster their cover letter, CV, and letters of support for publication on a site created for this purpose.
The vote was opened on October 1, 2022 and closed on November 15, 2022. The ballot counting was carried out by Maître Margaux Coiffard-Herrbach on November 15, 2022 and the result communicated to all members in January 2023 with the annual letter from the Interim Permanent Secretary.
No objections have been submitted through legal channels.

2 : Of the Permanent Secretary:
The elections were organized by the same procedure. Contrary to tradition, the Council did not make a proposal. The call for candidatures was opened on March 1 and closed on April 15. The election opened on June 15 and closed on July 15. The ballot counting was carried out by Maître Coiffard-Herrbach on July 21 and the results communicated to all members of the Academy in the first days of August.
To date, and to our knowledge, no objections have been submitted through legal channels.

E : Conclusion

During the period of collegial management and the interim, I scrupulously refrained from expressing any personal opinion. At the end of this meeting, I will never again intervene in the affairs of the Academy. That is why I kindly ask you to listen to two remarks. You will do with it what you want.

1: The IAHS is an Academy, which implies three duties: elitism, working together and good manners.

  • Elitism: an Academy is not a learned society. Our duty is to choose the best and to recruit henceforth the elites among the young generation exclusively on the basis of their scientific record.
  • Working together: too many members consider their election as a simple scientific distinction, do not pay their dues and lose interest in the Academy. In the future, it will be necessary to distinguish between active members who participate in the life of the Academy, publish in the Archives and in the Collection of works and pay their fee, and on the other hand, dormant members who do not meet these conditions.
  • Good manners: recent events have ridiculed us within the academic world. In an Academy, we do not campaign by video, nor open letters, nor denunciations, nor defamation. It should be recalled that article 6 of the statutes provides for the removal of a member for serious misconduct.

2: We are an international academy. Article 3 of the internal regulations provides that “there is no statutory allocation of places within the Academy to countries or specialties”, but that “the Council is charged to watch over the need for a judicious and reasonable equilibrium”. However, while the scientific landscape today is multipolar, the Council reflects the obsolete hegemony of Western Europe and the United States. This is why it is highly desirable that, even before the revision of the statutes, the Council co-opts experts and assessors, that is to say distinguished scholars from scientific communities which are not represented by officers, such as, for example, the Islamic world, China and Latin America.

As I will never return to the Academy, this report does not require approval. I will not answer any questions, not orally, not in writing.