Science, Policy - and Neutrality

30 Sep 2015

Is it possible to remain politically neutral when working at the nexus of human rights, human emotion, and justice? Many would suggest it isn’t, that even – or perhaps especially – science cannot claim to stand outside the social structures that shape our lives. However, science and scientists can take a stand of neutrality with regard to political decision making, and the Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law is very careful to do so.

CSEL’s core purpose is based on our understanding that with access to the scientific evidence about human psychology, legal – and of course political – decision makers are more able to make fairer judgements. So CSEL will always stay out of commenting on politics, and remain neutral as far as making political judgements is concerned. Nevertheless, we understand the importance of sharing our evidence with those in a position to use it for the benefit of vulnerable people. This was the rationale behind our submission to the 2014 Parliamentary enquiry on immigration detention.

We also know that the possession of knowledge and accurate information is key to being able to appropriately advocate for fair decision making – whether in legal or political processes. This is why dissemination is also at the heart of what we do: via the new research hub, our training projects of the last six years, and networking with other voluntary sector organisations such as Asylum Aid and decision- and policy-makers in the UK and across Europe.

Though we can put our materials in the public domain, and bring them to the attention of those who might work with them, we are not an advocacy organisation. It’s up to you - our partners and colleagues in achieving correct decisions and fairer outcomes for the most vulnerable - to take the research evidence into the world through your work, and help bring about evidence-based decision making.

Houses of Parliament, London, UKHouse of Commons by Steve Evans, Creative Commons license