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Giving Meaning to the Right to Science: A Global and Multidisciplinary Approach

For the past decade, the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition has been eliciting the perspectives of scientists, engineers, and health professionals as to the meaning of the right to “enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” and associated obligations (Article 15, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). An initial focus group study that engaged U.S.-based scientists added clarity regarding the broad benefits of scientific progress relevant to the right and gave rise to a new conceptual framework for considering ‘access to science’ in the context of Article 15.

Building on this prior research, AAAS received funding from the Open Society Foundation to support (1) development, dissemination and analysis of a preliminary global questionnaire to elicit the views of scientists, engineers and health professionals as to the meaning of the right; and (2) organization of a briefing for the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to inform its development of a General Comment on the right. Two additional research efforts were undertaken: a series of interviews with health advocates around the world on how the right to science might apply to and help advance their work; and a project to create data visualizations of the ‘right to science’ references contained in periodic reports of States Party to the ICESCR. The report presents the findings of this research.

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