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The right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications

The right to benefit from scientific progress and its application is an important part of article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and therefore, a fundamental aspect of cultural rights that the mandate has looked into.

You will find below the thematic work conducted by the mandate over the years, as well as developments in other parts of the UN system and important links.

Ensuring everyone benefits from science

The right to enjoy scientific progress and its application covers all sciences: life, physical, behavioural and social, as well as engineering and the health professions. Implementation of this right means:

  • Access for all without discrimination to the benefits of science and its application necessary to live a dignified life, including scientific knowledge;
  • Opportunities for all to contribute to science and scientific research;
  • The information necessary for individuals and communities to engage in decision-making regarding areas of research and development, and the related right to information; and
  • An environment that promotes the conservation, development and diffusion of science and technology, and the freedom indispensable for scientific research.

Report on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (2012)

In her 2012 report to the human Rights Council (A/HRC/20/26), the Special Rapporteur focuses on the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. She stresses the strong link between this right and the right to take part in cultural life, as well as other human rights.

For essential innovations to reach everyone, states and the private sector need to work together to identify the needs of marginalized people through consultative processes, direct funding and targeted research. The private sector needs to prioritize the right to science through corporate social responsibility initiatives. The report also calls for states to give everyone access to essential technologies like the Internet, promote open access to scientific knowledge and information on the Internet, and promote science education at all levels.

To prepare this report and assess achievements and challenges related to the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, the Special Rapporteur prepared and disseminated a questionnaire. See the questionnaire and the responses received on the report page.

Read all recommendations to states, enterprise, universities and other stakeholders on how to ensure the right for everyone to take part in scientific life (A/HRC/20/26)

Related events and materials

Further developments in the UN system

Useful links