Section 5, paragraph 3 of the German Constitution protects the freedom of research as a common good. It can only be limited for the protection of other, similarly important rights that are constitutionally enshrined. Successful academic research requires transparency—above all, free exchange of information and publication of research results. But free research is not risk-free. Results that are in and of themselves neutral or useful can just as well be used for harmful purposes (a situation termed the ‘dual-use dilemma’).
Legal standards delineate the boundaries of research and, when required, limit the freedom of research in order to protect constitutionally enshrined rights. They may exclude research objectives (e.g. the development of nuclear or biological weapons), regulate methods (e.g. certain experiments on humans) and restrict the export of knowledge, services and products to certain countries (e.g. within the scope of export controls under German foreign-trade legislation or Council Regulation (EC) 428/2009 for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items.
In addition to observing all laws governing security-relevant research, every academic has the obligation to consider the potential ethical and social impact of their research. On 30 July 2020, the HHU Rectorate passed its regulations on security-relevant research, which lay down relevant guidelines and procedures.
The Directive and the Statutes came into effect the day after their publication in the official announcement of the HHU on 29.09.2020
The Rectorate has also established KSF, an independent, university-internal ad-hoc commission on dealing with security-relevant research. The main purpose of KSF is to provide guidance on dual-use research and projects with potential security-relevant implications to the Rectorate and academics at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. Its tasks, composition and processes are governed by the statutes of the commission for security-relevant research at HHU.
Prorektor für Forschung und Transfer
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Peter Westhoff
Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Building 16.11
Tel. +49 211 81-10440
Permanent commission members
Univ.-Prof. Frank Dietrich
Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Building 23.32
Tel. +49 211 81-12912
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Helmut Frister
Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Building 24.81
Tel. +49 211 81-11410
Consulting commission member
Ombudsperson for science
Univ.-Prof. i. R. Dr. Dr. h.c. Dieter Birnbacher
Universitätsstraße 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Building 23.31
Tel. +49 211 5590159