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Creating and enhancing TRUSTworthy, responsible and equitable partnerships in international research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TRUST (Creating and enhancing TRUSTworthy, responsible and equitable partnerships in international research)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

Global collaboration in research is essential to address humanity's challenges. However, such research should not repeat past mistakes of exploitation of low and middle income countries. Equitable partnerships must be built. The main goal of the TRUST Project was to catalyse a global collaborative effort to improve adherence to high ethical standards in research around the world.

Achieving equity in international research is one of the pressing concerns of the 21st century. Many international groups and organisations are working on governance frameworks and standards to guide research activities after progressive globalization. However, their efforts are disparate and lacking a guiding vision. In an interdisciplinary collaboration between multi-level ethics bodies, policy advisors, civil society organisations, funding organisations, industry and academic scholars from a range of disciplines, this project combined long-standing, highly respected efforts to build international governance structures with new exciting network opportunities between Europe, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, China and Russia.

The project's strategic output are three sets of tools based on participatory engagement covering all continents: (1) a global code of conduct for funders, (2) a fair research contracting on-line tool and (3) a compliance and ethics follow-up tool.

The project's objectives were:

1. Create an international network on global research ethics governance with relevant key actors to identify generic risks of exporting non-ethical practices.
2. Identify paradigmatic case studies of exporting non-ethical practices and report on lessons learnt.
3. Develop a global code of conduct that can be used by the European Commission and funders world-wide to foster ethical research and equitable partnerships.
4. Develop an on-line tool that gives power to vulnerable populations under non-ideal conditions (fair research contract).
5. Develop a compliance and ethics follow-up tool for conditions of high vulnerability.
6. Develop a strategy for fostering the convergence of global ethical research governance to improve adherence to high ethical standards in the longer term.
The work performed during the second reporting period of the project, include

1. Completed and disseminated a Global Code of Conduct (GCC) that can be used by funders world-wide to foster ethical research and equitable partnerships.
2. Completed and disseminated an on-line tool that gives negotiation power and guidance to those who do not have access to lawyers (fair research contract).
3. Developed a compliance and ethics follow-up tool for conditions of high vulnerability.
4. Successfully built sustainability measures to ensure that the outputs of the project will be relevant for years to come.
5. Completed and disseminated a San Code of Research Ethics.
6. Raised the project profile through high-profile and sustained media and related engagement (e.g. European Parliament, Vatican, UN Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network)
"The TRUST project achieved considerable impact on three major issues:

1. Significant contribution on raising the rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous populations bear a disproportionate burden of research whilst being potentially highly vulnerable to exploitation.

""The San Code of Research Ethics [launched by TRUST] is the voice of a community that have been exploited for so many years. This code also manages to bridge the gap between the Research community and the San Community through dialogue. By taking ownership of the Code the San Community will ensure that this document will remain relevant for generations to come."" Leana Snyders, Director of the South African San Council.

2. Significant contribution on reducing the risk of ethics dumping with EU funding.

The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (http://www.globalcodeofconduct.org/) developed by TRUST, is now a mandatory reference document for EU framework programs and the EDCTP.

3. Significant contribution on supporting those without access to lawyers in international collaborative research.

The Fair Research Contracting (http://frcweb.cohred.org/) on-line tool provides valuable information on: Negotiation Strategies, Research Contracts, Research Data, Intellectual Property, Research Costing, Capacity & Technology, Community Engagement

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In addition, considerable media interest was generated in very high-profile publications: Nature, Guardian, Aljazeera Television, Times Higher Education, Science, Scientific American, National Geographic and many others."
TRUST project (WITS partner) visited by EC in Johannesburg
Case studies TRUST meeting in Mumbai March 2016
European Parliament event June 2018 TRUST group and invited speakers
South African plenary meeting March 2017
Plenary TRUST Meeting at UNESCO Paris October 2015 copyright © UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo
Launch of the San Code of Research Ethics
European Parliament event June 2018 Jeffrey Sachs, Stelios Kouloglou, Klaus Leisinger
Paquet Account Tweet
Plenary TRUST Meeting in Nairobi May 2016
European Parliament event June 2018 first panel