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Right to Science Resources: Articles, Books, Reports and Statements

What does the "right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress" mean for scientists and human rights actors in how they conduct their work? Who has the responsibility to see that the right is enjoyed by all? How does this right relate to other human rights, including intellectual property rights? These and other questions are considered in a growing body of literature about the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.

Key Materials
Access to Knowledge
Information Technology
Cultural Rights
Intellectual Property
Scientific Freedom

Key Materials

AAAS Board of Directors, "On the human right to the benefits of scientific progress," Statement, April 16, 2010

AAAS, Letter to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, April 2, 2021

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. (2013), “Defining the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications: American Scientists’ Perspectives.” (Report prepared by Margaret Weigers Vitullo and Jessica Wyndham).

AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. (2017), "Giving Meaning to the Right to Science: A Global and Multidisciplinary Approach." (Report prepared under the auspices of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition)

Chapman, Audrey. (2009), "Towards an Understanding of the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications," Journal of Human Rights, 8

Chapman, Audrey and Wyndham, Jessica. (2013), "A Human Right to Science." Science 14 June 2013: Vol. 340 no. 6138 p. 1291 DOI: 10.1126/science.1233319

Claude, Richard P. (2002), “Scientists’ Rights and the Human Rights to the Benefits of Science,” in Chapman, A and Russell, S (eds) (2002), Core Obligations: Building a Framework for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Intersentia

Schabas, William A. (2007), "Study of the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific and Technological Progress and Its Applications," in Donders Y. and Volodin V. (eds) Human Rights in Education, Science and Culture: Legal Developments and Challenges, UNESCO, pp. 273-308

Wyndham, Jessica M. and Weigners Vitullo, Margaret. (2018), "Define the Human Right to Science." Science 30 November 2018: Vol. 362 no. 6418 p. 975. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1467


Chapman, A. (2007), “Development of Indicators for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The Rights to Education, Participation in Cultural Life and Access to the Benefits of Science,” in Donders Y. and Volodin V. (eds) Human Rights in Education, Science and Culture: Legal Developments and Challenges, UNESCO, pp. 111-152

Claude, Richard P. (2002), Science in the Service of Human Rights: An Introductory Class for Science, Technology and Public Health.

Claude, Richard P. (2002), Science in the Service of Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press

Dickson, David (December 10, 2008), "'Right to Science' Deserves More Support,"

Donders, Yvonne, “The Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications,” Speech by Yvonne Donders, Deputy Director of the Amsterdam Center for International Law, on the Occasion of Human Rights Day, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. UN Doc. SHS/RSP/HRS-GED/2007/PI/H/3, 10 December 2007

Haugen, Hans M. (2012), Technology and Human Rights – Friends or Foes? Highlighting Innovations Applying to Nature Resources and Medicine, Human Rights Series 2.

Kirby, Danielle. (2013) "Q&A: Farida Shaheed on the human right to science," SciDevNet

Monshipouri, Mahmood, Englehart, Neil, and Nathan, Andrew J. (2003), Constructing Human Rights in the Age of Globalization

Marks, S. (1977), “UNESCO and Human Rights: The Implementation of Rights Relating to Education, Science, Culture and Communication,” Texas International Law Journal 13(1): 35-68

Rabesandratana, Tania. (October 10, 2013). "Access to Science Defined as a 'Continuum'," SciDevNet

Rubenstein, Leonard, and Younis, Mona (November 28, 2008), "Scientists and Human Rights," Science

Saez, Catherine (December 2011), "A Call at OHCHR for Policy Action on Right to Enjoy Benefits of Scientific Progress."

Scott, Christina, and Dickson, David (March 2009), "Science is a human right," Science in Africa

Shaheed, Farida (2012), "The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications," 14 May 2012 (A/HRC/20/26,HRC, Geneva).

Symonides, Janusz (1998), "The Implementation of Cultural Rights by the International Community," Gazette, 60(1): 7-25

Timmermann, Cristian (2012), "Sharing in or Benefiting from Scientific Advancement?" Sci Eng Ethics

Weeramantry, C.G. (ed.) (1990), Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development, The United Nations University

Wyndham, Jessica (December 10, 2008), "How can we uphold the right to science?,"

Wyndham, Jessica (August 2011) "Breathing Life Into Neglected Human Right," The UNESCO Courier

Access to Knowledge

Danner, Richard A. (2007) “Applying the Access Principle in Law: The Responsibilities of the Legal Scholar,” 35 International Journal of Legal Information 355

Land, Molly Beutz (2009) “Protecting Rights Online,” 34 Yale Journal of International Law

Vadi, Valentina (2008) “Sapere Aude! Access to knowledge as a human right and a key instrument of development,” 12 International Journal of Communications Law and Policy 345

Willinsky, J. (2005), "The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship," MIT Press (see pp. 144-145)

Cultural Rights

Oloka-Onyango, J. (2005), "Who's Watching "Big Brother"? Globalization and the Protection of Cultural Rights in Present Day Africa," Human Rights Quarterly, 27:1245-1273

Shaver, Lea (2010), "The Right to Science and Culture", Wisconsin Law Review, 2010: 121 – 184

Symonides, Janusz (1998), "The Implementation of Cultural Rights by the International Community," Gazette, 60(1): 7-25


German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2008), “Fact sheet: Energy. A Human Rights-Based Approach in the Energy Sector,” in Applying Human Rights in Practice: Fact sheets on a human rights-based approach in development cooperation


Dommen, Caroline (1998), “Claiming Environmental Rights: Some Possibilities Offered by the United Nations’ Human Rights Mechanisms,” 11 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

Rodriguez-Rivera, Luis E. (2001) “Is the Human Right to Environment Recognized Under International Law? It Depends on the Source,” 12 Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy

Weiner, Andy. (2003) “The forest and the trees: Sustainable development and human rights in the context of Cambodia,” 151 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1543


Haugen, Hans Morten (2005), "The Right to Food, the Right to Benefit from Science and the TRIPS Agreement," in Eide, W. B. and Kracht, U. (eds), Food and Human Rights in Development, Intersentia, pp. 425-460


Arriaga, Alexandra (2002), "HIV/AIDS and violence against women," Human Rights, 29(3): 18-21

Campbell, Angela (2000), "Children living with HIV: reshaping law and policy in Quebec to preserve and promote their rights," Health Law Journal, 8:141-176

Claude, Richard Pierre and Issel, Bernardo W. (1998), "Health, Medicine and Science in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Health and Human Rights, 3(2): 127-142

Cook, Deborah et. al. (2008), "Randomized Trials in Vulnerable Populations," Clinical Trials, 5: 61-69

Cook, Rebecca, J (1993) “International Human Rights and Women’s Reproductive Health,” 24 Studies in Family Planning 73

Donders, Yvonne M. (May 2008), "Social Responsibility in a Human Rights Context: The Right to Health and the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress," Study prepared for the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO

Farmer, Paul (1999), "Pathologies of power: Rethinking health and human rights," American Journal of Public Health, 89(10): 1486-1496

Famer, Paul (2003), Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor

Faunce, T.A. (2005), "Will international human rights subsume medical ethics? Intersections in the UNESCO Universal Bioethics Declaration," Journal of Medical Ethics, 31:173-178

Frick, Mike, Henry, Ian and Lessem, Erica (2016) "Falling Short of the Rights to Health and Scientific Progress: Inadequate TB Drug Research and Access," Health and Human Rights Journal, 18(1)  

Government of Canada (July 2005), A Brave New World: Where Biotechnology and Human Rights Intersect, (see in particular Chapter 2.4.3)

Jones, Sinead B. (1999), "Cancer in the developing world: a call to action," British Medical Journal, 319: 505-508

Joseph, Sarah (2003), "Pharmaceutical corporations and access to drugs: The 'fourth wave' of Corporate Human Rights Scrutiny," Human Rights Quarterly, 25(2): 425-452

Langlois, Adèle (2008), "The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: Perspectives from Kenya and South Africa," Health Care Anal,16:39-51

Lazzarini, Zita (2003), "Making Access to Pharmaceuticals a Reality: Legal Options Under TRIPS and the Case of Brazil" Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal 6: 103
MacDowell, Enrique Gonzalez (2002), "Juridical Action for the Protection of Collective Rights and its Legal Impact: A Case Study," The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 30(4): 644-654

Macklin, Ruth (2005), "HIV/AIDS Vaccine Trials and Human Rights," INTERIGHTS Bulletin, 15: 64-66

Marks, Stephen P. (2002), "The Evolving Field of Health and Human Rights: Issues and Methods," The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 30(4): 739-754

Oxfam (2001), "Africa Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB and Other Related Infections," Presentation made as part of panel on drugs policy, April 26, 2001, Abuja, Nigeria

Shanner, Laura (1995), "The right to procreate: When rights claims have gone wrong," McGill Law Journal 20: 823
Sheremeta, Lorraine and Knoppers, Bartha Maria (2003), "Beyond the rhetoric: population genetics and benefit-sharing," Health Law Journal, 11: 89-117

Torres, Mary Ann (2002), "The Human Right to Health, National Courts, and Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment: A Case Study from Venezuela," Chicago Journal of International Law, 3(1): 105-114

Yamey, Gavin (2008), "Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: A rights violation that impedes global health," Health and Human Rights, 10(1): 21-42

Yamin, Alicia Ely (2002), “Not just a tragedy: Access to medications as a right under international law,” Boston University International Law Journal, 21:352-70

Yamin, Alicia Ely and Maine, Deborah P. (1999), "Maternal Mortality as a Human Rights Issue: Measuring Compliance with International Treaty Obligations," Human Rights Quarterly, 21: 563-607

Information Technology

Hilbert, Martin R. (2001), “Latin America on its path to the digital age: where are we?” UN Doc. LC/L.1555-P, 1 June 2001

Posner, Michael (2012), "Scientific and Academic Freedom in the Digital Age." Remarks at the American Assoicaiton for the Advancement of Science, 10 October 2012.

Tay, Alice. (21 October 1999), “Information highway must have a slow lane,” The Australian, Features section, p. 15

Intellectual Property

Anderson, Robert D and Wager, Hannu (2006), "Human Rights, Development, and the WTO: The Cases of Intellectual Property and Competition Policy," Journal of International Economic Law, 9(3): 707-747

Berger, Jonathan Michael (2002), “Tripping Over Patents: AIDS, Access to Treatment and the Manufacturing of Scarcity,” Connecticut Journal of International Law 17: 157

Bidault, Mylne (2000), "La protection des droits culturels," par le Comit des droits, conomiques, sociaux et culturels, UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/14, 2 October 2000

Chapman, Audrey R. (1999), “A human rights perspective on intellectual property, scientific progress and access to the benefits of science,” in Intellectual Property and Human Rights, (Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization), pp. 127-68

Chapman, Audrey R. (2000), "Approaching intellectual property as a human right: Obligations related to Article 15(1)(c)," UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/12, 3 October 2000
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Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Statement (2001), "Follow-up to the day of general discussion on article 15.1(c)," UN Doc. E/C.12/2001/15, 14 December 2001
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Cullet, Philippe (2007), "Human Rights and Intellectual Property Protection in the TRIPS Era," Human Rights Quarterly, 29:403-430

Dommen, Caroline (2000), "Economic, social and cultural rights and WTO work on intellectual property rights, Current processes and opportunities," UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/20, 13 December 2000
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ECOSOC (2000), "Protecting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional knowledge," UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/17, 27 October 2000
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ECOSOC (2000), "Protection of Intellectual Property under the TRIPS Agreement," UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/18.
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Green, Maria (2000), "Drafting history of Article 15(1)(c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/15, 9 October 2000
English | French | Russian | Spanish

Lim, Hoe (2001), "Trade and human rights: What's at issue?," UN Doc. E/C.12/2001/WP.2, 10 April 2001

Loff, Bebe and Heywood, Mark (2002), "Patents on drugs: Manufacturing scarcity or advancing health?," The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 30(4) 621-631

Martin, George and Vermeylen, Saskia (2005), "Intellectual Property, Indigenous Knowledge, and Biodiversity," Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, 16(3): 27-48

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2001), "The Impact of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on human rights," UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2001/13, 27 June 2001
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Plomer, Aurora (2012), 'The Right to Access the Benefits of Science and New Biotechnologies', Presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 2012

Plomer, Aurora (2012), 'In Defence of Helsinki and Human Rights', South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2012;5(2):83-86.

Saez, Catherine (2013), "Right to Benefits of Science: Human Rights Meet IP Rights," Intellectual Property Watch

Saez, Catherine (2013), "Right to Science: More Publicly Funded Research, Less IP, Panelists Say," Intellectual Property Watch

Valencia Rodriguez, Luis (1993), “The right of everyone to own property alone as well as in association with others,” UN Doc. E/CN.4/1994/19, 25 November 1993
Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

Yu, Peter K. (2007), "Reconceptualizing Intellectual Property Interests in a Human Rights Framework," 40 University of California Davis Law Review 1039-1149

Scientific Freedom

Arsanjani, Mahnoush H. (2006), "Negotiating the UN Declaration on Human Cloning," American Journal of International Law, 100(1): 164-179


Cristescu, Aureliu. (1981), “The right to self-determination: Historical and current development on the basis of United Nations instruments,” UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/404/Rev.1, 1 January 1981
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