Workshop on Human Right to Science: Latin American perspectives
The right to access the benefits of scientific progress is an understudied and shortly developed human right, in spite of it being recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
This right gains special relevance nowadays given the accelerated and continuous scientific and technological advances, and their impacts on society, economy, democracy, and people´s rights.
This is why UNESCO, in its mandate to promote the sciences for peace and development from a rights perspective, considers it fundamental to start discussing the contents, scope and limitations of the right to science from a Latin American and Caribbean perspective.
This closed workshop will bring together 20 experts from different fields and disciplines (scientific community, human rights, ethics of science, scientific policy, ancestral knowledge, intellectual property, among others) in order to begin to discussing characteristics and criteria to help develop the right to science from a regional perspective.
The inputs of this workshop will serve to feed the discussion that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations is giving on this issue and to position it on the agenda of the governments of the region and in the Latin American Human Rights System.
Science is a Human Right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights considers it as such in its article 27: "Everyone has the right ... to participate in scientific progress and in the benefits that result from it ... Everyone has the right to the protection of moral interests and materials that correspond to it because of scientific productions ...“. In addition, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 15) is deepened, and at the inter-American level, the American Convention on Human Rights and, in particular, article 14 of the Protocol of San Salvador on Economic Social and Cultural Rights - ESCR.
Joinly with the development of ESCR rights, a global interest originated, to deepen the Human Right to Science, framed into Cultural rights according to international human rights instruments. In previous years, UNESCO has organized a series of global meetings to discuss the topic (Amsterdam -2007, Galway-2008 and Venice -2009), and has produced some related documents, such as the Recommendations on Science and Scientific Researchers in 2017, approved by the Member States of UNESCO.
Furthermore, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights has published two reports (2012 and 2014) on the subject, making a series of recommendations, inviting to deepen the debate, and continuing to carry out studies that help to provide greater conceptual clarity of the straight.
The United Nations Committee on ESCR took on the task of drafting a General Comment that develops Article 15 of the International Covenant on Human Rights, defining the normative content of this right and analyzing its implications. The Committee will hold a new meeting in November 2019 and it will be a strategic moment to present comments and observations on how the Committee should approach the study of law.
At a Latin America and the Caribbean (hereafter, LAC) level, little has been studied and deepened in the right to science. At the political level, within the framework of the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State in 2018, governments called for the first time for “Support the development of Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the International Bill of Rights Human, which recognizes, among others, the right of every person to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, and the presentation of a general observation in the committee session, in October-November 2019, as an advance towards effective recognition of the human right to science".
As a result, UNESCO has created spaces for discussion within the region, during the CLACSO 2018 Conference and the Global Conference on South-South Cooperation in 2019. The purpose of these spaces was to start positioning the issue among political decision-makers, human rights defenders and the scientific community of the region, and to begin to analyze together how the right to science should be understood from a Latin American and Caribbean perspective.
UNESCO in LAC has placed the Right to Science and Access to Knowledge as one of its main axes of work in the region. On the one hand, it aims to consider the vision of the right to science from a Latin American perspective, contributing to the global debate being given by the UN ESC Committee. On the other hand, it pursues to install the discussion in the regional human rights and scientific policies agendas to develop the right at the regional level. Moreover, it seeks to begin to create a critical mass of experts, institutions, and organizations, which from a multidisciplinary perspective can help develop the right to science in LAC within the framework of the 2030 Agenda.
For this, UNESCO intends to organize a first closed discussion workshop of two days (August 20 and 21), with experts from different fields and disciplines (scientific community, human rights, science ethics, scientific policy, ancestral knowledge, companies private, among others) to start discussing the right to science from a regional perspective.
The realization of this workshop seeks three objectives:
1. Contribute to the elaboration of the General Comment on the right to science that the UN DESC Committee is developing, from a Latin American and Caribbean perspective of the right to science.
2. Begin to put on the agenda of the Inter-American Human Rights System and the scientific policies of the region, the development of the right to science in light of the commitment made at the 2018 Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State.
3. Start to create a multidisciplinary network that studies, deepens and develops the right to science in Latin America and the Caribbean