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The Human Right to Science

Author: Tara Smith


  1. Gisa Dang, Health and Human Rights Consultant, Treatment Action Group
  2. Rebecca Everly, Director, Committee on Human Rights, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
  3. Marco Perduca, Co-founder and Coordinator, Science for Democracy
  4. Sudip Parikh, Chief Executive Officer, AAAS, and Executive Publisher, Science
  5. Jessica M. Wyndham, Director of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, AAAS

Session Summary

This session explored the human right to science in terms of how it can be applied and interpreted practically, through advocacy and other actions, to achieve meaningful progress in realising the right to science and other rights in the international human rights framework. The session also discussed the impact and utility of General Comment No. 25 (2020) on science and economic, social and cultural rights in this regard by providing authoritative guidance on the contours of the right.


  1. We know what is expected of states and what their obligations are in relation to the right to science, though more work needs to be done to expand upon the authoritative understanding advanced in General Comment No. 25. In this regard, General Comment No. 25 was viewed as ‘mission launched’ rather than mission ‘complete’.
  2. The publication of General Comment No. 25 is a major advancement for human rights advocacy. It will be used by advocates, activists and civil society to achieve further progress in progressively realising the right to science going forward.
  3. The right to science is also about preventing harm: harm to those who create scientific progress, harm to general society when scientific progress is not permitted, and harm caused by the fruits of scientific progress and technology.


  1. The General Comment was broadly welcomed by the panel, but shortcomings were recognised, and further work needs to be done going forward to expand upon the authoritative understanding of the right to science advanced by General Comment No. 25.
  2. General Comment No. 25 represents a major advancement in our understanding of the right to science and that understanding will be useful in advocacy, activism and action going forward to ensure that signatories uphold their obligations under this and other rights within the international human rights law framework.

Key Words

  1. General Comment No. 25
  2. Advocacy
  3. State obligations
  4. Responsibilities of science

Other Resources

  1. General Comment No. 25