Policy ForumHuman Rights

A Human Right to Science

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1291
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233319

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Although recognized in international law for decades, the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications has received little attention from the human rights and scientific communities (15). In 2012, Farida Shaheed, a Special Rapporteur (SR) for the United Nations (UN), presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on the meaning and application of the right (6). The next step is for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to adopt an official statement on the meaning and application of the right that provides clear guidance on the steps governments must take for implementation. The CESCR has been reluctant because of the complexity of issues and the need to know more about government practice. To address such knowledge gaps, the scientific and human rights communities need to provide input.