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Recommendations to the General Comment on the Right to Science

Addressing United Nations

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations has published the General Comment on Science on the 7th of April 2020

This version represents an improvement from the draft version published in January, and many of the comments sent by Science for Democracy were taken into account. Read the General Comment on Science.

Science for Democracy has been campaigning for years for the full recognition of the right to science and submitted comments to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

We focused on three main recommendations.

  • Paragraph 89, the last of the document that is dedicated to “A human right to science” should be included at the outset of the text and, possibly, reformulated as follows: This set of rights, entitlements, liberties, duties or obligations related to science, analyzed in this General Comment, might be brought together in a single broad concept named “the human right to science”, in the same way that, for example, “the human right to health” encompasses a broad set of rights and freedoms affecting human wealth and well-being. This approach and this name have already been adopted by the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, by UNESCO, by some international conferences and summits and by some important scientific organizations and publications.
  • The General Comment should become the basis for the development of guidelines to assist Member States in their documenting the implementation of article 15 of the ICESCR.
  • Given the growing importance of science in our daily life, and its possible positive and negative impact on billions of people, Member States should consider the possibility to establish a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Science or the human rights implication of Science (as described in the General Comment) also through ad hoc debates to be hosted by the UN Council on Human Rights. Science for Democracy invites everyone to contact their government to share these recommendations and ask them to submit them on behalf of their Member State, in order to show the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that there is a wide consensus around these proposals. The General Comment was also part of the agenda of the VI World Congress for freedom of scientific research that we held in Addis Ababa on 25-26 February 2020.


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