Science for Democracy is a platform launched in October 2018, by some members of Rome-based Associazione Luca Coscioni (please see list below) to promote the affirmation of the “right to science” through a dialog between the scientific community and decision-makers all over the world at different levels.
The Right to Science is recognised and protected as a fundamental human right; it is enshrined in article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
The full enjoyment of the Right to Science depends on States’ ability to secure institutional, policy and legal frameworks that can guarantee fair access to scientific research and technological developments, the sharing of scientific knowledge, and the prevention of the infringement of other fundamental human rights and liberties by scientific progress.
Science for Democracy has followed the drafting process of a “General Comment on Science” by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is further clarifying the numerous implications deriving from the implementation of Article 15 of the ICESCR.
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
(a) To take part in cultural life;
(b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
(c) To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the benefits to be derived from the encouragement and development of international contacts and co-operation in the scientific and cultural fields.
Ad hoc panel discussions and side-events have been organized at the UN in Geneva and Vienna to raise some of the issues that could have benefited from specific mentions in the General Comment, such as human and vegetal biotechnologies, reproductive health, controlled narcotics for therapeutic purposes, gender equality in science, as well as open access to scientific literature.
To complement more in-depth discussions, Science for Democracy has also organized public demonstrations to raise awareness for the general public. The “Give crispr a chance” snack organised in front of the European Parliament in March 2019, and repeated at the Polytechnic in Bari, Italy are two such examples. In front of a large crowd, mostly made up of students, speeches were delivered explaining what crispr is and the repercussions of the 25 July 2018 ruling of the European Court of Justice. A crispr-produced rice meal was consumed by scientists to demonstrate the safety of the technique.
In the lead up to the definition of the European Union’s Horizon Europe 9th framework program in the fall of 2018, Science for Democracy submitted a petition to the European Parliament, aiming at allowing the financing of human genome editing for therapeutic purposes.
Human cloning is also one of the most crucial examples of an issue whose ethical implications have suggested tight regulations, moratoria if not outright prohibition by countries. Applying precautions vis-à-vis new therapeutic possibilities cannot hinder research that, under constant, serious, and transparent scrutiny, can provide a cure for people and put an end to genetically transmittable diseases. Science for Democracy believes that through systematic, possibly structured, exchanges between scientists and legislators, regulatory balances can be found to ensure the “right to enjoy the benefits of scientific research” globally.
The themes covered by Science for Democracy are wide-ranging, and in general every scientific issue is relevant. In order to engage decision-makers, a document presenting 11 points was submitted to candidates in the European Parliament elections in spring 2019. The text includes issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights, disability, end of life decisions, human and vegetal genome editing, to embryo research, controlled narcotics and policy evaluation processes and impact evaluation. In 2020, activities to raise the various themes with Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission will be promoted.
On 25 and 26 February 2020, in cooperation with the Commission of the African Union in the person of Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Science and Technology and thanks to the support of the Associazione Luca Coscioni, Science for Democracy has organized the 6th session of the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research at the headquarters of the African Union. The meeting is dedicated to the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.
The event is organized after the publication of the draft General Comment on Science and within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2063 Agenda for Africa whose objectives can all benefit from a strengthened relationship between science and decision-makers.
SCIENCE FOR DEMOCRACY
Promoted by Associazione Luca Coscioni* and coordinated by
Marco Perduca – United Nations
Mr. Perduca was a senator in Italy from 2008 to 2013, serving on the Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights committees. For 20 years, he has coordinated the activities of the Nonviolent Radical Party at the United Nations (UN) in New York, as well as in Geneva and Vienna, and has organized high-level meetings to abolish the death penalty in Africa and Central Asia. He has also collaborated with British law firms and various American foundations on ending human rights violations in Italy. Mr. Perduca is an expert on UN mechanisms, with an emphasis on drug policy reform.
His letters and opinions have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. When he was in Parliament, he was often a guest on the BBC as a commentator on Italian politics. In 2014, he published Operazione Idigov, a chronicle of his activities at the United Nations in the year 2000; in 2018, he co-curated Proibisco Ergo Sum, a collection of essays on prohibitions in Italy, and prefaced La Cannabis Fa Bene alla Politica and Terapie Stupefacenti. He has a blog at HuffingtonPost.it and just published a memoir, Farnesina Radicale.
Marco Cappato – European Union
Marco Cappato, Coordinator of the “World Congress for freedom of scientific Research”, Treasurer of “Luca Coscioni Association”.
Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009, and EP Rapporteur on: “privacy in electronic communication”; “human rights in the world for 2007”; “production of opium for medical purposes in Afghanistan”; “public access to EU documents”.
Nominated for the “Politician of the year” award by “Wired” in 2003; winner of the “European of the Year” award organised by “the European voice”.
Claudia Basta is a researcher at the Dutch national institute for the living environment, a public science-policy institute whose mandate is to evaluate environmental and sustainable development policies based on robust scientific knowledge.
Her expertise consists of designing and evaluating knowledge-production processes lying at the intersection of science, stakeholders and society.
Claudia obtained her PhD in European risk governance from the Delft University of Technology and her post-doctoral specialization in the ethics of technology from the 4TU Centre of Excellence for Ethics and Technology of the same university.
Federico Binda is a mathematician, working as a researcher at the University of Regensburg (Germany).
Before that, he studied mathematics in Germany, Italy and France. Apart from his primary research, he spends his days writing and talking about Open Science.
Since September 2017, he is a board member of the Luca Coscioni Association for the freedom of scientific research.
Andrea Boggio is a Professor of Legal Studies at Bryant University (USA).
He has authored Compensating Asbestos Victims. Law and the Dark Side of Industrialization (Ashgate 2013) and Health and Development: Toward a Matrix Approach (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009).
He earned a doctoral degree from Stanford University and completed his post-doc training at the University of Geneva. He has consulted for governments (Canada, Italy), international organizations (OECD, WHO) and many nongovernmental entities.
He is a member of the New York bar.
Laura Convertino graduated in Medicine at the University of Pavia, as a member of Collegio Ghislieri, and completed a diploma in Biomedical Sciences at IUSS, focusing on neuroscience and psychiatry.
She is strongly committed to the legal, ethical and social consequences of scientific advancement, and to the refugee crisis issue.
Laura will start her doctorate at UCL, under the Ecological Brain DTP.
Niccolo’ Figa-Talamanca holds a PhD and an LL.M in International Law, and is the Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice.
He has an extensive experience on the ground on human rights and humanitarian law operations in conflict and post-conflict environments.
He has advised governments and institutions on the establishment and operating methodology of international criminal justice institutions.
He was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, worked for the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights as their International Criminal Court consultant, and from 1995 to 1997 he clerked for Judge Sir Ninian Stephen, at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Lawyer before the Italian Court of Cassation, she is an expert in legislative issues
concerning human biotechnology.
For 10 years she has taught at the University of Teramo. Since 2005, she has promoted and followed most of the legal proceedings that led Italy’s Constitutional Court to declare the unconstitutionality of the national Law on assisted reproductive techniques.
She has collaborated with the Ministry of European Affairs and the Italian Drug Agency; a frequent commentator on bioethical issues in the national media, in 2012, she was elected secretary of the Luca Coscioni Association for freedom of scientific research.
Costanza Hermanin holds a PhD in European Public Policy and teaches at LUISS Rome, the College of Europe, and SciencesPo.
She is a member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and has worked as special advisor in the cabinet of the Italian Secretary for Justice.
Before, she was in charge of EU justice and home affairs for the Open Society Foundations. She authored Fighting discrimination in Europe and contributes regularly on Italian and European Affairs.
She is among the founders of Women in International Security Italy, RENA, and the Openmigration fact-checking project.
Claudio M. Radaelli is professor of public policy at University College London. He is principal investigator on his second advanced European Research Council’s project Procedural Tools for Effective Governance (Protego).
Protego explores the causal effects of evidence-based policy, transparency, access to regulation and consultation on governance, corruption, and the quality of the business environment.
A political scientist with a background in economics, he led the Centre for European Governance at University of Exeter, where he was professor of political science between 2004 and 2018; he is Editor in chief of the new flagship journal of the International Public Policy Association, the International Review of Public Policy.
Cesare P.R. Romano
Cesare P.R. Romano is Professor of Law, W. Joseph Ford Fellow and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
He holds a Laurea in Political Science, University of Milano (1992); a Diplôme des Études Supérieures and a PhD (Doctorat) of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva (1995 and 1999); and an LL.M. from the New York University Law School (1997).
His expertise is in public international law, and he specializes in particular in international courts and tribunals and human rights. Website: cesareromano.com