CERN to end collaboration agreements with Russia and Belarus

Chain of Large Hadron Collider dipole magnets at CERN, Geneva (Hertzog, Samuel Joseph: CERN)

The decision comes three months after the European particle physics laboratory suspended Russia from its membership.

CERN’s decision-making body on Friday said it will “terminate” its cooperation agreements with Russia and Belarus when they expire in 2024.

The decision comes after the physics lab’s 23 member states suspended Russia from its membership in May due to its invasion of Ukraine.

At the 208th meeting of the CERN Council held in Geneva on Thursday, member states said they will continue to monitor developments in Ukraine and the Council “stands ready to take any further decision”. 

The move means scientists from Russia and Belarus will not be able to use the research centre’s facilities after the agreements expire.  ​​Over 1,100 scientists affiliated to Russian academic and scientific institutes – not all Russian – currently work with CERN, representing one of its biggest country communities out of a workforce of around 12,000 people.

Read also: ‘Science sanctions on Russia should not stop exchanges between scientists’ 

The council also decided to review the organisation’s cooperation with the Russian Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR). The agreement with JINR will expire in January 2025. 

“Yesterday’s council’s decision confirms the strong condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation aided by Belarus, while leaving the door ajar for continued scientific collaboration should conditions allow in the future,” Dr Fabiola Gianotti, the director-general of CERN said in a statement. 

The International Cooperation Agreements are entered for a period of five years and are usually renewed for another five years unless one party provides another with a written notice of termination with the appropriate notice period. The ICAs with Russia and Belarus will expire in December and June 2024 respectively. 

This decision comes over and above the ones already taken in the meetings held in March 2022. In a meeting of the council on 25 March, the member states decided to boycott Russia and Belarus from its events and imposed a ban on its scientists associating with any institution located in Russia or Belarus. In its meeting on Thursday, the council reiterated that all its previous decisions concerning Russia and Belarus will remain in force. 

 Russia was an observer-member of the European particle physics laboratory which means that it does not pay anything to CERN. But its institutions were heavily involved in several scientific projects in CERN. Meanwhile, Ukraine is an associate member of CERN which means that it pays a share to the organisation’s finances but does not hold a seat in the council.