Human Rights and the Challenges of Science and Technology
- 555 Downloads
The expansion of the corpus of international human rights to include the right to water and sanitation has implications both for the process of recognizing human rights and for future developments in the relationships between technology, engineering and human rights. Concerns with threats to human rights resulting from developments in science and technology were expressed in the early days of the United Nations (UN), along with the recognition of the ambitious human right of everyone “to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.” This comment explores the hypothesis that the emerging concepts most likely to follow recognition of the human right to water primarily involve issues of science and technology, such as access to medicines or clean and healthy environment. Many threats to human rights from advances in science, which were identified in the past as potential, have become real today, such as invasion of privacy from electronic recording, deprivation of health and livelihood as a result of climate change, or control over individual autonomy through advances in genetics and neuroscience. This comment concludes by urging greater engagement of scientists and engineers, in partnership with human rights specialists, in translating normative pronouncements into defining policy and planning interventions.
KeywordsHuman rights Human right to science Misuse of science UNESCO International Bioethics Committee Human Rights Council
The author wishes to thank Jessica Wyndham and Natalie Gyenes for their assistance and suggestions in developing this manuscript.
- AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, “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), October 2013. doi: 10.1126/srhrl.aaa0028. Retrieved November 5, 2013 from http://srhrl.aaas.org/coalition/WG/3/Projects/Article15/UNReportAAAS.pdf.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2010). Advancing Science Serving Society Statement: On the human right to the benefits of scientific progress. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://shr.aaas.org/article15/Reference_Materials/Article15_AAASBoardStatement.pdf.
- Brand, G. (1971). Human rights and scientific and technological developments. Human Rights Journal, 4, 354.Google Scholar
- Burgers, J. M. (1948). Rights and duties concerning creative expression in particular in science. In UNESCO (1948). Human rights: Comments and interpretations (p. 216). Google Scholar
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). (2013). Privacy. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from https://www.eff.org/issues/privacy.
- Marks, S. (2009). Access to essential medicines as a component of the right to health. In A. Clapham & M. Robinson (Eds.), Realizing the Right to Health (pp. 82–101). Zurich, Switzerland: Rüfer & Rub, the Swiss Human Rights Book Series.Google Scholar
- Pillay, N. (2013). How to safeguard the right to privacy in the digital age? Geneva. Retrieved November 3, 2013 from http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/NewsSearch.aspx?PTID=HC&NTID=STM.
- UNESCO (1997). Universal declaration on the human genome and human rights. art. 19(a)(iii), UNESCO 29 C/Res. 3 l (Nov. 11, 1997).Google Scholar
- UNESCO (2005). Universal declaration on bioethics and human rights. arts. 2(d), (f), UNESCO. SHS/EST/BIO/06/1 (Oct. 19, 2005).Google Scholar
- UNESCO. (2009). The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (p. 2009). Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
- United Nations (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. New York: United Nations. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml.
- United Nations (1966). International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. art. 15(1)(c). Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cescr.htm.
- United Nations (1968a), Proclamation of Teheran, Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Teheran, 22 April to 13 May 1968, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 32/41 (1968). Para. 18. Retrieved November 3, 2013 from http://legal.un.org/avl/pdf/ha/fatchr/Final_Act_of_TehranConf.pdf.
- United Nations (1968b). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly. 2450 (XXIII). U.N. Doc. A/10034. Para. 1(a).Google Scholar
- United Nations (1970). Human rights and scientific and technological developments. U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1028/Add.6 (Dec. 29, 1970), and A/8055.Google Scholar
- United Nations (1975). Declaration on the use of scientific and technological progress in the interest of peace and for the benefit of mankind. General Assembly. Resolution 3384 (XXX).Google Scholar
- United Nations (1993). Vienna Declaration and Program of Action, ¶ 11, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.157/23 (July 12, 1993).Google Scholar
- United Nations (2002). Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Right to Water (arts. 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), General Comment No. 15. U.N. Doc. E/C.12/2002/11 (2002).Google Scholar
- United Nations (2011). Human Rights Council resolution 18/22, adopted on 30 September 2011.Google Scholar
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (1948). Human rights: Comments and interpretations. Grounds of an International Declaration of Human Rights, Appendix II, p. 14.Google Scholar
- Weeramantry, C. G. (1990). Human rights and scientific and technological development: studies on the affirmative use of science and technology for the furtherance of human rights. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.Google Scholar