Science and Human Rights…a starter

Human Rights must encompass science, of course, if only to safeguard humans and their rights in light of scientific applications such as the development and  use of nuclear weapons and genetic modification.

Science and Human Rights: From SciDevNet

Promoting a human rights approach to S&T advances will reinforce moves towards inclusive development. But implementation challenges remain.

There was a time when debates on the links between science and human rights focused on the plight of individual scientists, and in particular on their rights — both as humans and as intellectuals — to the freedom of expression.

In the 1970s and 1980s, for example, dissident scientists such as the Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov became focal points for protests by the human rights movement in the West, keen to throw a spotlight on the harshness with which the government of the Soviet Union treated its critics.

Since then, the terrain of the science and human rights debate has expanded considerably. One direction has been the use of technology to provide evidence of human rights abuses — for example, the use by Amnesty International of sophisticated satellite imagery to document unlawful executions and the destruction of villages in conflicts in the Middle East and Sudan.

An equally significant trend, however, has been the growing interest in promoting the idea that enjoying the fruits of scientific knowledge is a basic human right, and in how this right can be implemented in the context of social and economic development.

Eyes on human rights

This week, we publish a series of articles highlighting emerging thinking about the potential impact of, and challenges faced by a human rights-based approach to the role of science in development.

In an overview article, S. Romi Mukherjee, senior lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and the University of Chicago Center in Paris, who was the editorial consultant on the project, outlines a human rights-based approach intersects with debates over science and technology (S&T) and development.

In a complementary feature article, Jan Piotrowski talks to some of those who are seeking to implement this rights-based approach, particularly within UN agencies such as UNESCO and the Food and Agricultural Organization, as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

More from the same article….


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