All scholars, including students, as well as human rights practitioners and community organizers, are encouraged to submit a session proposal. Proposals from those whose human rights are being threatened and who urgently need a platform for their voices to be heard so that their human rights can be respected are especially welcomed.
The theme of this year’s conference is The Human Right to Science and Freedom of Expression.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects freedom of expression, which includes the right of everyone to “seek, receive and impart” information and ideas, and the right to share in scientific advancement. As the COVID-19 pandemic and its inequitable impacts have shown, these rights are interconnected and interdependent in many ways. Scientists and health professionals have been attacked for their public health advocacy; access to knowledge to make personal health decisions has been inequitable; in some cases, governments have discouraged and even prohibited scientists from sharing information with each other. At the same time, the growth of global authoritarianism and the spread of misinformation and disinformation, especially on online platforms, pose new challenges to the right to science and the full spectrum of human rights. At this moment, there is an urgent need for concrete actions by governments, the scientific community, and civil society to more fully recognize and implement the right to science in ways that can enhance public engagement with scientific information, promote public participation in science, support evidence-based decisions, and enable scientific freedom and the responsible applications of science for human rights.
Since its founding in 2009, the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition has been a leader in promoting the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. Years of work by scientific and human rights communities led to the adoption in 2020 of General Comment No. 25, an authoritative interpretation of the right, by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Coalition’s annual conference brings together human rights leaders from around the world, academic researchers across different disciplines, scientists and engineers who work in private industry, government officials, members of impacted communities, and students in science, engineering, human rights, health, and law. The event is an opportunity for all those interested in or working on science and human rights to engage with each other, build trust, and develop new partnerships. This year’s event aims to give attendees practical tools so they can better support colleagues under threat, advocate for scientific freedom and responsibility, and articulate how and why the overlaps between the right to science, academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association are essential to solving today’s urgent human rights challenges.
The Coalition invites sessions that address this theme, including:
- Actions that could help reach full achievement of the human right to science for populations experiencing discrimination or increased vulnerability due to political, economic and social structures, for historically marginalized communities (such as persons with disabilities), and for the other human rights connected to the right to science and freedom of expression;
- The human rights of students, scholars, academics, researchers and other community members in places where displacement, conflict, censorship, and/or structural forms of oppression or discrimination make it difficult for them to continue their work;
- Examples of science journalism, digital media, or other innovative projects that bring together science and human rights to counter misinformation and disinformation;
- Approaches that expand access to scientific information while ensuring data sovereignty and the protection of traditional knowledge;
- Strategies for tackling human rights challenges associated with the conduct of science and applications of technology, including ethical guidelines and codes of conduct;
- Successful methods for building participatory and community-led science projects for human rights;
- Suggestions for engaging actors who can have an impact on the implementation of the right to science (governments, intergovernmental bodies, civil society, academia, etc.);
- New developments and applications in science and technology that support human rights documentation, monitoring, and strategic communications related to the right to science and freedom of expression;
- Leveraging the human right to science and freedom of expression to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals;
- The human rights dimensions of COVID-19 and the pandemic response, including COVID-19’s disparate impacts on marginalized populations, strategies to address vaccine inequities, global crackdowns on scientific organizations, and government censorship of facts and findings;
- Human rights and antiracism in STEM education in formal academic and informal settings, including partnerships between human rights educators and STEM educators.