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Defining the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications

In April 2010, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) adopted a statement on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, undertaking to engage the scientific community in defining the content of the right and determining its application to a diverse range of scientific disciplines and to contribute these findings to the UN process of defining the right (Statement: Appendix A). The AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition led the initiative that forms the basis for this report.

Over the course of 18 months, the Coalition conducted 17 focus groups, involving 145 participants from a diversity of scientific and engineering disciplines (Protocol: Appendix C). The objective of the focus groups was to learn the perspectives of U.S. based scientists, engineers and health professionals as to the meaning, application and barriers to implementation of Articles 15 1(b), (2-4) and is the first effort of its sort. This report starts from the basis of the current understanding of the right and reveals how the focus group participants perceive the right in ways consistent with or contrary to the existing literature. In the discussion that follows, the term scientist is used broadly to include all the focus group participants, including engineers and health professionals.

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