Joint Initiative: Article 15

In addition to specialized Areas of Work that engage associations in the pursuit of many different objectives, the Coalition has an overarching initiative that engages the full membership. This joint initiative is the promotion of the right to “the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” (Article 15, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).


The right to “enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” elevates fundamental scientific values, such as equitable access to scientific and technical knowledge, scientific freedom, and international cooperation, to universal standards that governments everywhere must protect. A right unto itself, this right is also a key prerequisite for the realization of other human rights, including the rights to health, food, water, and to a healthy environment. Although universally recognized, this human right remains largely ignored by governments, as well as the scientific, engineering, health and human rights communities. As a network of scientific, engineering and health organizations that recognize a role for science and technology in promoting human rights, the Coalition has a unique and vital contribution to make to efforts to ensure that governments respect, protect, and fulfill this neglected right.

Through empirical research and engaging Coalition members across disciplines, the Coalition has made substantive contributions to the ongoing United Nations (UN) process of defining the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. As a result, the Coalition has secured a place for the STEM community in the UN process and ensured that the perspectives of United States-based scientists, engineers, and health professionals inform that process. Within the next three years, we anticipate that the UN will continue to explore the meaning and application of the right, leading to the adoption of a definitive articulation of the meaning of the right (General Comment).

The objectives for the Joint Initiative in 2015-2017 are to:

  1. Place the Coalition in a position to shape the content of the General Comment;
  2. Engage natural allies in strengthening the voice of the STEM community in the UN process. Do this in particular, by reaching out to other STEM associations abroad, and to international scientific organizations such as ICSU; and 
  3. Launch a pilot initiative aimed at demonstrating, in practice, the significance of the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and supporting small-scale efforts to address current needs.

Further Information

If you wish to find out more about this Joint Initiative and how your association can participate, please contact Jessica Wyndham.