Ethics and International Collaboration Procedure

International collaboration has in recent years been the focus of greater ethical and legal attention. On the one hand, the current geopolitical situation has led to more attention to possible military applications of research results. On the other hand, there has been more attention to the role of non-state actors in promoting human rights, or at least preventing human rights violations. 

Internationalisation is becoming more and more important and is reflected, among other things, in staff and student exchanges, jointly organised education programmes, contributions to capacity building in the South, international networking, clustering of research capacity and cross-border research collaboration, collaboration in tech transfer, etc. Respect for human rights is inherent to universitiesโ€™ social role. Guidelines for human rights policy have been agreed upon by the rectors of the five Flemish universities in 2019. 

The VUB is committed to ensuring that its activities respect legal and ethical obligations. This procedure is intended to help the VUBโ€™s researchers and administrators identify possible ethical and legal issues that may arise from their international collaborations. The procedure consists of the following elements:

  • A definition of the scope of the procedure
  • A screening procedure for checking projects

It is essential to complete the procedure accurately and in good time to ensure that projects can proceed smoothly. 

The check consists of two simple stages: VUB researchers and administrators are asked to assess whether their international collaboration activities involve ethical or legal obligations, particularly with regard to human rights and/or possible military applications (dual use). If this is the case, or if there is any uncertainty, the second stage is to ask advice from the relevant legal department of VUB 
(see step 2). Please note that if the advice given by the ECDMM is not followed and or incorporated,  no contracts or other relevant documents concerning the project will be signed by VUB. 

Complete text (VUB-researchers only)

Ethics Committees

Human Sciences Ethics Committee

In its assessments, the independent Human Sciences Ethics Committee at VUB endorses the general research policy of the university, such as striving for a healthy research culture, quality research output, and scientific integrity in research.

The Committee provides ethical advice to researchers. It verifies the compatibility of research submitted for its opinion with ethical principles and standards. It can provide general ethical policy advice concerning research developments, insofar as these have a clear ethical dimension and are relevant to our university. 

More information for VUB-researchers

Ethics Committee Human Sciences

More info

Dual Technologies, Military Research and Misuse Ethics Committee

The Dual Technologies, Military Research and Misuse Ethics Committee is responsible for:

  • Verifying that VUB activities comply with the relevant provisions on exporting dual technologies and military goods.
  • Ethical evaluation of activities undertaken in cooperation with military or defence partners, or financed by military or defence funding.
  • Evaluating research activities at risk of misuse and providing advice or drafting measures to mitigate the risks.
  • Granting ethical approval for projects involving โ€˜dual technologiesโ€™, military research or projects with a risk of research misuse.
  • Providing advice and support to the VUB community regarding โ€˜dual technologiesโ€™, military research and possible misuse of research.

The ECDMM is part of the Legal and Ethics Office within the VUB Department of Research and Data Management.

Ethics Committee Dual Technologies, Military Research & Misuse

More info

Ethics Committee on Animal Testing

Read all about the Ethics Committee on Animal Testing 

Contact Point for Access & Benefit Sharing

The VUB Contact Point for Access & Benefit Sharing is responsible for:

  • Supporting VUB researchers in complying with the Nagoya Protocol.
  • Supporting VUB researchers in other aspects of fairness and benefit-sharing in relation to research processes and results.

The Contact Point is part of the Legal and Ethics Office within the VUB Department of Research and Data Management.

Contact Access & Benefit Sharing

More info

Data Protection Office

It is likely that you will work with personal data as part of your research. A broad range of privacy and data protection legislation applies to this. Such things as sending e-mails to colleagues, taking and processing surveys, or analysing publicly available information posted on social media are all covered by privacy legislation (including the well-known โ€˜GDPRโ€™, General Data Protection Regulation, which has been in force since 25 May 2018).

It is important that researchers are aware of the ways in which they handle personal data and what the consequences may be. One example is that all personal data processed by researchers without a legitimate basis must be deleted. Every researcher must always comply with the law, and this also applies to privacy and data protection law. In addition, scientists are judged according to higher standards of accurate and ethical behaviour, which ensures that the academic community is trusted and speaks with authority.

Fortunately, the Data Protection Office helps researchers meet these high standards and continue to protect the fundamental right to privacy - without making the practice of science suffer.

Do you have questions about privacy legislation (such as the GDPR) and what it means for your research?  

VUB researchers can log in to the DPO website.

Log in here

VUB Logo Digitaal Gebruik

Andries Hofkens

Data Protection Officer VUB