terraXcube Research Ethics Committee

General

All terraXcube activities aim to acquire knowledge for the benefit of humankind and to primarily pursue civil objectives.

terraXcube serves as a SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH LABORATORY dedicated to basic and applied research projects which require a climate simulator. It also serves as a TEST LABORATORY for the research and development of new products and technologies for use in extreme environmental situations.

Ultimately, the terraXcube serves as a TRAINING LABORATORY for activities to be carried out in extreme environmental situations.

In its function as a scientific research laboratory, the terraXcube is used especially, but not exclusively, for research in mountain emergency medicine and alpine ecology. Scientific research should by definition, adhere to the ethical standards of the scientific community. In addition, all projects involving human subjects must be submitted to and approved by the Provincial Ethics Committee or, depending on their remit, the Ethics Committee for Clinical Trials. In South Tyrol, research involving animal experiments is currently prohibited, however, current legal provisions are continuously being consulted and updated when necessary.

In general, the following principle applies as a recommendation for ethically responsible research: research aims to increase knowledge and is obliged to work for the well-being of people and the protection of the environment and other goods, especially those protected by constitutional law. Researchers must avoid direct and indirect damage to these goods as far as possible. […] In this context, the opportunities of research and its risks to human dignity, life, health, liberty and property of persons, the protection of the environment and other goods shall be considered as individual cases.

terraXcube fundamentally rejects research and development and training activities in all areas of the weapons industry that directly contribute to the development of products, technologies and human skills that could harm other human beings, animals or the environment. 

Research that primarily concerns the weapons industry, e.g. research, development and testing of weapons or weapons systems, may not be carried out in the terraXcube.

In this respect, it is important to distinguish between the war industry (the industry that produces armaments and weapons technology) and the defence industry (the industry that is generally concerned with security and as such could include military uses or other risks with ethical implications). terraXcube rejects war research on this basis.

There may be a risk of ethical implications in research projects and the development of technological applications that are expected to produce knowledge, products or technologies that could be misused by third parties.

In general, it is important to be aware of the dual use problem: the exploitation of technologies and scientific research results for both civilian and peaceful purposes as well as for military purposes.   Scientific results and technologies not originally developed directly for the weapons industry can be used and misused for military purposes that harm people, animals and the environment. If it becomes apparent that military purposes with offensive intent take precedence over other uses, the corresponding application for use of the terraXcube will be rejected.  In cases of doubt, the institution or company applying for use of the terraXcube must prove that the intended activities primarily concern civil and non-war use with offensive purposes. The relevant declaration must be submitted to REC.

In its function as a training laboratory for activities that must take place in extreme environmental situations, military unit training activities may be permitted which, under Article 11 of the Italian Constitution, have as their primary purpose the maintenance of peace and national defence. However, no training activities with the primary objective of killing people may be carried out in the terraXcube. In cases of doubt, terraXcube must submit a request to the REC. The staff of terraXcube and Eurac Research must refrain, either on behalf of the institution or in a private capacity, from any kind of manifestation (statements, social media posts, etc.) that could be interpreted as military or weapons advocacy regarding activities carried out in the terraXcube and Eurac Research.

All activities carried out in the terraXcube must be such that they can be transparently disclosed to the public, subject to any Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). All confidentiality agreements must be justified and appropriate and should be limited, where possible, only to certain aspects, owing in part to the fact terraXcube was built almost exclusively with taxpayers’ money and covers most of its operating costs by the same means.

Once a year, terraXcube and Eurac Research management will submit a general report to the REC on all activities carried out in the terraXcube during the reporting year. The report will specify the percentual breakdown of basic or applied research, technology applications or R&D and training activities; it shall also specify the source of any funds acquired and how they were distributed (e.g. commissioned research, R&D tests, technology tests, training activities). In this way, if necessary, the REC can make general recommendations.

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