A Psychedelic Coming Out

A Psychedelic Coming Out

By Marco Perduca


On the 50th anniversary of Woodstock last year there was a lot of talk about psychedelics, even about a psychedelic Renaissance. Everywhere, however, in the country of the Renaissance, the movement is still struggling to establish itself. A group of Dutch activists launched the ThankYouPlantMedicine proposal to dedicate February 20th to the sharing (coming out) of therapeutic experiences with psychedelics to counter the stigma that still affects those substances.

To clarify the ideas, especially if we are dealing with stuff that perhaps enhances them, alters or annihilates, we recover the original meaning of the word: those substances that “free the thought from the superstructures of social conventions” are psychedelic. The term psychedelic is not directly inherited, like many words in our daily vocabulary, from the ancient Greeks – who, however, as for hallucinogenic beverages, did not miss anything. It is a neologism that merges soul, ψυχή and manifest, δήλος.

The quoted words just above are by the English psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in a letter sent in 1956 to his compatriot Aldous Huxley, writer and philosopher, to indicate the so-called “enlargement of consciousness” induced by hallucinogens and entheogens, mainly LSD.

Consumption of these substances can enhance creativity and self-awareness, but it can also accompany therapeutic experiences of various kinds, for many psycho-physical conditions. In both cases, however, the freedom to ingest the products of nature or of chemical synthesis clashes with very restrictive, if not fully prohibitionist, laws or policies that have been pursued in a coordinated manner at global level since the 1960s. The years of the Summer of Love.

The hippies of the sixties and seventies, sometimes called flower children, were an eclectic group: some were openly against the US government, some were anti-capitalist, some anti-communist, but all were against the Vietnam War. Some were interested in politics, others were more interested in art (music, painting and poetry) or in spiritual and meditative practices. In short, there was everything.

Among the groups that have become more interested in psychedelics today, and perhaps thanks to which we can start talking about the Renaissance, there are dozens of researchers and psychotherapists who work on consciousness and knowledge with scientific practices, often heterodox, that mix chemistry, millenary indigenous knowledge and traditions, psychology, ethno-botany, and shamanism all the way up to parapsychology. In short, there is everything. Everything, but all in the name of freedom and mutual listening.

As we all remember, especially those who were not yet born at the time of the Summer of Love, Woodstock is symbolically remembered by the opening and closing pieces: “Freedom” by Richie Havens and the distorted USA anthem by Jimi Hendrix. Legend has it that “Freedom” was not in the playlist of the then basically unknown folk-blues singer and guitarist. Indeed, it seems that the song did not exist at all, but that it was created on the spot when he started playing on that August 15th 1969. In all concerts the first artist playing doesn’t matter, the goal being to warm up the audience and wait for latecomers. Since the big names expected could not reach the festival stage due to a traffic jam caused by the flood of people who, by any means, tried to reach the concert lawn, Havens had to entertain the audience for three hours. After playing everything he knew, “Freedom” emerged from an old spiritual inspired, it seems, by the crowd itself. The raw energy of that first acoustic version of Freedom remains in the annals of music.

Since then Woodstock, its music, and the widespread use of any type of legal and non-legal substance, have been linked to freedom. A freedom that did not cause victims.

Thanks to an idea of ​​the psychiatrist and psychotherapist Ben Sessa, the Breaking Convention has been held since 2011. It is a biennial Woodstock of psychedelic therapies that looks like a festival with a thousand facets including scientific symposia on the most recent and promising research as well as innovative insights on human and social sciences, law, politics, art, history and the philosophy around psychedelics. Among the historical supporters of the Convention are the Beckley Foundation and Maps (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies); the latter is in phase three of clinical trials for the treatment of post-traumatic stress with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

Sessa also collaborates with the team of Robin Carhart-Harris and David Nutt who in April at Imperial College London launched the first institutional centre in the world for research on psychedelics, after having carried out studies and experiments with LSD and psilocybin for years, facing legal problems and a lack of funds.

Although focused on research, the organizers of the Breaking Convention have always kept the doors open to other types of experiences too, involving people who experiment on themselves, self-taught researchers, enthusiasts or representatives of indigenous cultures and traditions. The London festival has a corollary of events that, thanks to the psychedelics, arouse and accompany mental journeys, trigger individual and collective creativity, spirituality and positivity.

“Microdosing” and self-medication are some of the keywords when it comes to psychedelics, even if Dr. Nutt and his collaborators on July 15, 2019 complained that “there is no standard on the quantity taken nor defined protocols” due to the scarce evidence on the therapeutic use of small doses of LSD, mescaline or psilocybin. However, rather than archiving certain practices as an amateurish, anecdotal and observational amusement, researchers wished for systematic studies while launching a search for volunteers for clinical trials on depression.

Ceremonies, gongs, visions, plants, chemistry, anthropology, ethno-botany, archaeology, music and activism make up the multidisciplinary nature of psychedelics in the pursuit of that psycho-cultural and increasingly political unity (Onennes) trying to build a trans-national antiprohibitionist fight.

The fight against the loss of self-determination – at the individual and indigenous people’s level – the criminalisation of cultural choices and “therapeutic” options, as well as the attack on nature and biodiversity, are the key themes of this movement which proposes a “proactive psychedelic Renaissance”.

Coming out on psychedelics helps strengthen a movement that, although not (yet) organized, is increasingly coordinated.

The General Comment on Science of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights dedicates a whole paragraph to controlled substances:

“Controlled substances and science

Scientific research is prevented on some substances as they fall under international conventions on drug control and are classified as harmful to health and without scientific or medical value. However, there is evidence that there are medical uses for many of these substances or that they are not as harmful as they were thought to be when they were subjected to this regime. This is the case of opium derivatives (for pain treatment and maintenance programs in opioid addiction), cannabis (for epilepsy resistant to other therapies) and MDMA (used in psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder) to the extent that there is available scientific evidence.”

This is not a psychedelic coming out, but a sharing of necessary actions, partly in progress, so that a psychedelic Renaissance starts being possible also in Europe. All the political activities necessary for a qualitative leap must be strengthened and 2020 could also be the crucial year in this field.

If you are interested in joining a group of academics and scientists with a focus on freeing scientific research and controlled drugs, contact us. 

Open Science to fight coronavirus

Open Science to fight coronavirus


By Federico Binda and Andrea Boggio


The new coronavirus, which has now infected over 75.000 people, almost all of them Chinese citizens, has found insidious and silent allies: the limits to the freedom of circulation of scientific information, which have contributed to the delay in doctors’ and scientists’ reaction in violation of the “right to science” established by UN Conventions.

The spreading of the virus is showing all of the limits of the international system in responding to health emergencies. A system which was established when another virus from the same family, known as SARS, spread 18 years ago.

The SARS, with over 8.000 individuals infected in 28 countries, for a total of 774 deaths (less than half those due to the coronavirus from January to today) brought about the adoption of the International Health Regulations (IHR), an international law instrument that forces the 196 World Health Organisation’s (WHO) members to work together, following a detailed protocol, to protect global public health.

The IHR are fundamentally based on two parts: one dealing with prevention, the other with health emergencies management. The latter, as was made clear by the WHO Committee for the last coronavirus, is essentially based on containment: every country needs to implement actions aimed at locating, isolating and treating every case, trace contacts between potentially infected people and promoting every quarantine and containment measure proportionate to the gravity of the emergency. It is precisely what we are witnessing today.

These measures are necessary, without a doubt – and generate considerable attention from public opinion. But are they enough?

Borrowing an image from the informatics world, we could say that the global response system is made up of two parts: a frontend, the interface that all users see, and a backend, the engine that makes everything work. In this metaphor our strategies to respond to the spreading of a potential pandemic are focused on the interface, neglecting the engine.

When the WHO declared a new global health emergency, the international response mechanism is activated. Under WHO coordination, all necessary measures are deployed to stop the spreading of the disease: ports and airports are closed, the circulation of goods and people is reduced, until we reach extreme decisions such as the one taken by the Chinese government to quarantine an entire region. In the meantime, data and information are shared (or at least should be shared) between all actors, so that they can be immediately available to everyone.

But the crucial part of the response system is behind all this: it is the engine described above, and it includes the work of scientists, doctors and researchers, the mechanisms of data sharing and analysis capability, the development of new vaccines and new medicines, the specific training of medical professionals to face potential emergencies.

This backend also includes access to and the sharing of relevant scientific literature, so that it is available to researchers but also to authorities and decision-makers, to the media and, ultimately, to all citizens. A culturally informed and scientifically equipped population could better assess the risk without panicking. Prepared citizens-patients will necessarily be more cooperative with health authorities and will be, for example, more incline to follow quarantine measures and other public order dispositions, will seek medical counsel more promptly in case of symptoms and, if necessary, willingly accept classical clinical treatments and possible vaccines.

It is easy to notice that these structural measures, also because of the way in which the new coronavirus is spreading, have not been deployed in sufficient measures. The People’s Republic has certainly given new proof of the strength of its extraordinary administrative machine by building new hospitals with over 2.300 beds from scratch in the city of Wuhan to treat patients, but this shouldn’t make us forget that – at the beginning – there weren’t enough beds in a large urban area with over 11 million inhabitants. On a different front, articles and scientific publications concerning coronaviruses have remained protected by paywalls, available to the public, including technical public, made up of doctors and health professionals who were trying to get information on the disease, only with a payment. Only weeks into the epidemic, and only after a group of activists created a “pirate” archive open to all with over 5.000 articles, did large commercial editors, pushed by international pressure, decide to break – only on this topic – the walls impeding the spreading of studies made by scientists all over the world.

All of this while panic, racism and xenophobia were spreading, with the WHO reacting by starting a campaign to fight rumours and hearsays about the disease (to the point of having to deny the rumour according to which garlic consumption would reduce the risk of getting coronavirus).

Which instruments, then, do we have at our disposal to implement the necessary measures to ensure the backend, the engine described above, works in a proper way and prepares us to face the next pandemic?

International law offers us a precious instrument, coming from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, starting from the “right to health”, included in article 14, and the “right to science”, included in article 15, which established both the right for scientists to have the freedoms needed for research, such as the one to share discoveries, and the right of every human being to enjoy the results of scientific progress and its applications.

The respect and application of these rights on the part of States would guarantee (and bind) adequate investments in research and development, ample support to Open Science policies starting from open access to scientific publications, adequate training of health professionals, the building and maintenance of hospitals and medical centres in addition to, naturally, a wide sharing of scientific culture in the various segments of the population.

A series of measure non immediately appreciated by the public at large. But in their absence the global response system to health emergencies (and not only) cannot function properly: the current emergency, hoping that it will be confined in the best way possible, is an alarm bell.

We will be discussing these themes in a few days in Addis Ababa at the Sixth Session of the World Congress on Freedom of Scientific Research titled, fittingly, “The right to enjoy the benefits of science”.


Why Africa for a Congress on Science

Why Africa for a Congress on Science

by Marco Perduca

A most recent search for articles on Africa in the international press will include: the decision, yet to be confirmed, of the Sudanese transitional administration to send Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court that in 2009 indicted him of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes; the latest killing of Boko Haram or secessionist activities in Cameroon; chaos in Libya, unrest in Algeria; a contested election in Malawi, impunity in Kenya, and scandals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Angola. North-south relations revolve around the need to defend European borders, enforce arms embargoes, boost military cooperation against terrorism – or hide questionable arms deals.

This is the type of reporting that characterizes Africa in the Western media. But Africa is more than a peril for us or a lost cause for its inhabitants, way more than we are led to believe.

According to the World Health Organization, the five major causes of death in Africa (even if in constant decline) are lower respiratory tract infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoea, ischaemic heart disease, parasites and vector-borne diseases. On top of health-related issues, the two most common reasons for deaths in the continent are car accidents and interpersonal violence, not armed conflicts. But if we were to judge by the way in which Africa is covered by western media, Africa would still be considered a part of the globe which is on fire due to national and international wars. Africans die for diseases that, in many cases, could be treated with better care and improved welfare systems staffed by prepared professionals.

In an article published in Nature last summer, a group of African researchers made a public call to Build science in Africa arguing that to “cope with climate change and population growth, the continent urgently needs more home-grown researchers”.

We had just come back from Addis Ababa with Marco Cappato to prepare the convening of the 6th World Congress on Freedom of Scientific Research and, perfectly in line with what was proposed by African researchers, we decided to involve them in a seminar at the Law Faculty of the Addis Ababa University in November to address all the problems faced by science in Africa in a moment in which science is becoming so central to the global public debate that the United Nations have decided to dedicate a General Comment to her.

The notion that science is a human right is recent, but mentions of science can be found in dozens of international and regional documents from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in article 27 to article 15 of the International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights; as recently as 2017 UNESCO has adopted a definition of science. When a country ratifies an international instrument on human rights it agrees to do its utmost to fulfil the obligations deriving from that commitment. If there is no excuse for countries not to respect those obligations, the economic situation of each State may present different scenarios in terms of resources to allow the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. Multilateral cooperation, conditioned to the respect of human rights, should progressively upgrade the fields in which it articulates its support. There are hundreds of individual and successful cooperations between universities that have been ongoing for years, but the lack of a free scientific space, the hurdles posed to the movement of scientists, researchers, students, and the problems in having diplomas and other academic titles recognized across the world hinders scientific research.

And it is exactly around this that a more structured, comprehensive and trans-national dialogue between rich and developing countries should start: on the need to allow – for all – the full enjoyment of the benefits of scientific progress and its implications, from those historically known to the latest developments. If science is a human right, and as we have seen it is, we need to urge international institutions to invest in freedom of research, in the sharing of knowledge and in the enjoyment of the benefits of applied science.

While there still remains a lot to be done to strengthen the traditional activities promoted in the field of international cooperation for development, additional attention should be dedicated to adopt rules and regulations at the international level to allow a freer sharing of researches and researchers and patients from north to south and vice versa, to invest in providing essential but also more sophisticated medicines to developing countries and in promoting research in all sorts of fields in the so-called “global south”.

The 6th session of the World Congress on Freedom of Scientific Research, facilitated and hosted by the Commission of the African Union, will address issues from stem cell research to precision medicine, reproductive health, new breeding techniques and the introduction of new products in the market as well as free and open access to science, knowledge open data and artificial intelligence to highlight the many issues related to the “right to science” that need to be protected and promoted as if they were a human right. We hope that the two-day gathering will adopt a set of recommendations to contribute to a global movement to promote reforms that are based on facts, freeing decisions from still existing and powerful ideologies – starting perhaps from the one that depicts Africa as “the third world”.

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The real challenge for democracy is to make us enjoy the benefits of science

The real challenge for democracy is to make us enjoy the benefits of science

By Marco Cappato

The fear of scientific and technologic progress is the main fuel of populisms, so much so that it becomes an inescapable question for any democracy. Fighting for the respect of the right “to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications” (art.15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) is the urgency of our times for politics aiming at being democratic and liberal.

At the end of the 1990s the problem seemed to be hostility towards globalisation, from which the “no global” movement started and the foundations for the souverainist wave were laid. The challenge for liberal democracies was to propose an alternative to globalism and nationalism: the globalisation of rights and democracy itself. The creation of the International Criminal Court in 1998 or the 2007 moratorium on capital punishment were examples of actions in this direction. Unfortunately, neither the United States nor the European Union were able face this challenge, and today – without a strengthening of rules and with international institutions lacking – we risk going back even in the field of economics, towards new protectionisms.

At the beginning of March the UN will approve a “General Comment” interpreting the human right to science, which includes the freedom for scientists to conduct research and the right for citizens to enjoy its benefits. It is not a new right, but rather the concrete enforcement of decisions taken by the UN half a century ago that have remained dead letter ever since. Once this text is approved, States all over the world will be forced to report back on their politics in the fields of science and technology. There will thus be a chance to discuss in Geneva – as currently happens for classic human rights – about free creation and circulation of scientific knowledge and equality in the access to the technological results of research itself.

If science has for the past few centuries been crucial for civilian, cultural, democratic and economic development, today it is decisive also for human evolution, if we think about technologies such as genome editing or those that go by the name of “artificial intelligence”. In both cases, it is not about technologies that are “only” apt to influence our life, but that can also modify our very nature and determine the future of our species in a way that was never possible before.

It is very clear that in front of changes of this magnitude, the old theme of equality, which has always interested politics, today is presented in new, more dramatic and urgent, versions. To stay “behind”, genetically or in terms of access to increasingly pervasive information, does not “only” mean to have a lower standard of living, but can even become a downgrade into a lower and inferior species, not able to share the same social relationships as before. It would be the end of the democratic and liberal ideal of equality between all citizens at least in terms of the starting point, and the negation of the premises of the rule of law.
Such scenarios are not imaginative dystopias; we must take the instinctive fears of the population less equipped to face this change seriously.

It is useless to be technophobes or techno enthusiasts, optimists or pessimists. We need to act.

The Sixth World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research will take place at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 25 and 26, and is organised by the African Union together with Associazione Luca Coscioni and Science for Democracy. There will be discussions with Nobel Prize winners, scientists, academics and governmental and institutional representatives from all over the world – and in particular Africa – about how the continent that will be at the centre of the residual demographic and economic growth will be ready for the enforcement of the human right to science.

It is particularly the responsibility of the “western” ruling classes to abandon any welfarist approach or, worse, any depiction of the African continent solely as an immigration policy threat. It is in Africa that the possibility to make the poorest regions of the world enjoy the benefits of scientific progress is most real, whether in regions stricken by climate-related droughts or in the outskirts of the world’s megalopolis.

The UN General Comment on the human right to science and the process we are starting in Addis Ababa together with the African Union represent a new chance – after the missed opportunity in the 1990s – for the globalisation of individual freedoms and rights, by joining the process that more than any other will have consequences for our life and our future.

Instead of trying to comfort people invoking a past that will not be back, it is the role of liberal democracies to invest resources, rules and politics so that knowledge and technology are spread through criteria of equity and fairness. If we don’t do it, the question will increasingly be in the hands of authoritarian and dictatorial powers, who know how to be quicker and more efficient in taking advantage of progress, to the detriment of important segments of the population who are cut out of it.
The challenge is to keep science, democracy and human rights united; we need to take action now.

If you would like to support freedom of research you can donate here.

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Un Congrès Mondial à Addis-Abeba les 25 et 26 février pour affirmer “le droit global à la science”

Un Congrès Mondial à Addis-Abeba les 25 et 26 février pour affirmer “le droit global à la science”

Science for Democracy: “Le coronavirus devrait être pris comme une opportunité pour affirmer la science comme droit humain. Un fort message aux Nations unies d’un point de vue africain.”

Addis-Abeba – Rome, 17 février

Science for Democracy, avec l’Associazione Luca Coscioni, organise la sixième session du Congrès Mondial pour la Liberté de Recherche Scientifique, sur « LE DROIT A BENEFICIER DES PROGRES DE LA SCIENCE » à Addis-Abeba du 25 au 26 février 2020. L’évènement est co-sponsorisé par la Commission de l’Union africaine dans la personne de la Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissaire pour la Science et la Technologie. Parmi les orateurs : Sir Richard John Roberts, prix Nobel de physiologie, et Abdi Adam Hoosow, Ministre des travaux publics, Somalie.

Les thèmes au centre de la discussion contribueront au débat global sur le « Droit à la Science », qui constitue l’objet du dernier « Commentaire Général » du Comité des Nations unies pour les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, qui sera bientôt adopté aux Nations unies de Genève.

Une fois approuvé, le document créera une obligation pour les États Membres de faire des rapports sur le respect de la liberté indispensable pour la recherche scientifique et le droit humain fondamental de bénéficier des avantages du progrès scientifique et de ses applications.

Le Congrès Mondial d’Addis-Abeba inclura des discussions sur les avantages concrets qu’amène la science dans différents domaines, tels que: la promotion de la culture scientifique; le libre accès à la science; la modification du génome humain, les biotechnologies végétales; les maladies rares, infectieuses et non transmissibles ainsi que l’aérospatial, les big data et l’intelligence artificielle.

L’interaction entre la science, la méthode scientifique, les débats sur la base de preuves e le processus de prise de décision dans le plein respect de l’État de droit a toujours été au centre des cinque rencontres du Congrès Mondial organisées depuis 2004 aux parlements italien et européen par l’Associazione Luca Coscioni.

Le Congrès d’Addis expliquera les ramifications du « droit de » et du « droit à » la science sur une variété de thématiques qui deviennent cruciales afin que les pays africains puissent réaliser les objectifs de développement durable d’ici 2030, en soutenant que la légalité internationale devra prendre en considération structurale le besoin d’éduquer le public sur la manière dans laquelle fonctionne la science, à travers la vérification, duplication et falsification de la recherche. Tous les objectifs de développement durable bénéficieraient d’investissements dans la recherche et la technologie pour fortifier la science et l’innovation dans les pays en voie de développement.

Marco Perduca, Président de Science for Democracy et Coordinateur du Congrès, a déclaré:

« L’émergence liée au coronavirus vient de démontrer à quel point il est important de compter sur la libre circulation d’information scientifique, des investissements appropriés sur la recherche scientifique et les structures médicales, un système global de coordination et d’intervention. Tous sont des aspects du droit à la science qui, si pleinement respecté, pourrait fortifier la démocratie et l’état de droit partout dans le monde. Nous espérons que le Congrès d’Addis-Abeba offrira des propositions concrètes sur comment mieux promouvoir et protéger la science en tant que droit humain. »

Afin de participer au Congrès et obtenir l’accréditation auprès de l’Union africaine il est impératif d’envoyer IMMEDIATEMENT une photo du passport à info@sciencefordemocracy.org



08:00 Enregistrement 

08:30 Café de bienvenu

09:00 Ouverture

Maîtres de Cérémonie

Dr Mahama OuedraogoDirecteur pour les Ressources Humaines, Science et Technologie, Commission de l’Union africaine 

Marco Perduca, Co-fondateur et coordinateur, Science for Democracy

Discours d’ouverture

S.E. Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang, Commissaire pour les Ressources Humaines, Science et Technologie de l’Union africaine

Filomena Gallo, Secrétaire-Générale, Association Luca Coscioni pour la liberté de recherche scientifique

09:30 Introduction: Le Droit à et de la Science 

Emanuela Del Re, Vice-Ministre pour les Affaires Etrangères, Italie (vidéo-message)

Angela Melo, Directeure, Politiques et Programmes, UNESCO (vidéo-message), présentée par introduced by Lydiah Gachingi, Regional Adviser on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists, bureau de liaison de l’UNESCO  aupès de l’Union Africaine et de la Commission Economique des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique

Mikel Mancisidor, Professeur Associé de Droit au Washington college of Law, Expert des Traités ONU au CDESC, co-rédacteur du Commentaire Général sur l’article 15 de la CIDESC (via Skype)

11:30 Lectio Magistralis: La recherche scientifique est la clé pour le développement futur

Sir Richard John Roberts, Prix Nobel en Physiologie, Chief Scientific Officer, New England Biolabs 

Hon. Abdi Adam Hoosow, Ministre des Travaux Publics, Reconstruction et Logement, République Fédérale de Somalie 

13:00 Pause Déjeuner

14:15 Première Session: Les avantages de la recherche sur les cellules souches et la modification thérapeutique du génome

Modérateur: Marco CappatoCo-fondateur, Science for democracy; Trésorier, Associazione Luca Coscioni

Cellules-souche: faits, espoirs, canulars et obstacles

Michele De Luca, Professeur de Biochimie, Directeur du Centre pour la Médecine Régénérative “Stefano Ferrari”, Université de Modena et Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italie

Comment peut-on utiliser les cellules souche pour réparer le cerveau

Malin Parmar, Professeur de Neurobiologie développementale et régénérative, Université de Lund, Suède

Le London Project pour soigner la cécité à 10 ans, avons-nous trouvé un remède?

Pete Coffey, Professeur de Psychophysique visuelle. Institute of Ophthalmology. Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, Royaume-Uni

La situation et les problèmes rencontrés par la recherche génétique dans les pays africains en développement: l’Égypte comme exemple

Ghada El Kamah, Professeure de Clinical Genetics, Coordinatrice de l’équipe Hereditary Blood Disorders and Genodermatoses Clinics and Research, Human Genetics and Genome Research Division, National Research Centre, Caire, Egypte.

Questions et Réponses

16:15 Pause Café

16:30 Deuxième Session: Les avantages des politiques sur la base de faits pour avancer les droits sexuels et reproductifs

Modérateure: Pia Locatelli, ancienne membre des Parlements italien et européen, ancien membre du IPU Advisory Group sur l’HIV/AIDS et la santé de la Mère du Nouveau-Né et de l’enfant (MNCH) (par la suite IPU Advisory Group on Health).

Hon Dr Christopher Kalila, MP Zambia, Hon Dr Ouattara Bakary, MP Cote d’Ivoire, Hon Aboubakry Ngaide, MP Senegal, Hon Sabina Wajiru Chege, MP Kenya, Hon Fatuma Gedi, MP Kenya, Hon Mwakibete Fredy Atupele, MP Tanzania

Surpopulation et planning familial volontaire, un nouvel agenda politique

Michele Usuelli, Conseiller régional en Lombardie,+Europa con Emma Bonino; Néonatologiste; Partnership for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health: focal point for Italian Society of Neonatology, Italie

L’importance des faits dans la prise des décisions – Consolata Opiyo, Vice-présidente, International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICWEA)

La santé e de la mère et de l’enfant au centre du continuum des sois: l’expérience de Doctors with Africa CUAMM

Michele d’Alessandro, Bureau des Relations Internationales de Doctors with Africa CUAMM

19:00 Diner à l’Union africaine


08:00 Enregistrement

08:30 Café de bienvenu

09:00 Troisième Session: Les avantages des innovations scientifiques dans l’agriculture et les bien de consommation 

Modérateurs: Vittoria Brambilla, PhD, Département de Sciences Environnementales et Agricoles, Université de Milan, Italie et Marco Perduca, Co-fondateur et coordinateur, Science for Democracy

Sir Richard John Roberts, Prix Nobel Prize en Physiologie

Communiquer la science de la modification du génome: passé, présent et futur

Margaret Karembu, directrice du ISAAA AfriCenter, présidente de l’Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Kenya Chapter Programming Committee.

Modification du génome et son potentiel pour l’agriculture africaine

Marc HeijdeVIB-International Plant Biotechnology Outreach

L’espace en évolution et les niches émergentes pour un breeding moderne en Afrique

Emmanuel Okogbenin, Directeur, Programme Development and Commercialization (AATF)

Engager les preneurs de décisions politiques dans l’acceptation des innovations scientifiques (leçons de la réduction des dégâts en Afrique du Sud)

Solomon Tshimong Rataemane, MD, Professeur de Psychiatrie à la Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Réduction des dégâts du tabac: les bases scientifiques

Fares Mili, Président de la Société Tunisienne de Tobaccologie et de Comportements Addictifs 

Reconnaitre le droit à l’information et le droit à la science: un parcours pour réaliser le droit à la santé dans les pays à revenu bas et moyen

Tequila BesterProgramme Coordinator pour les Droits Humains, les Personnes Vulnérables, et autres thèmes sociaux auprès de l’Association for International Human Rights Reporting Standards

11:00 Pause café & Photo opportunity

13.00 Pause Déjeuner

14:00 Quatrième Session: Accès Libre à la Science, données et Intelligence Artificielle 

Modérateur: Federico Binda, Steering Committee, Science for Democracy et Département de Mathématiques “F. Enriques”, Université de Milan

Norman Mushabe, Science Programme Consultant au bureau de liaison de l’UNESCO  auprès de l’Union Africaine et de la Commission Economique des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique

Science ouverte vs propriété intellectuelle dans un ordre démocratique

Roberto Caso, Professor Associé, Droit Privé Comparatif, Université de Trento 

La littératie numérique apporte la liberté de la recherche – l’expérience éthiopienne

Margareth Gfrerer, Higher Education Strategy Center, Ethiopie

Les bienfaits de la science ouverte pour la science

Solomon Mekonnen, Coordinateur National pour l’Accès libre, Université d’Addis-Abeba et EIFL


16:30 Présentation du document final et recommendations, débat général

18:00 Remarques finales 

S.E. Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang, Commissaire pour les Ressources Humaines, Science et Technologie de l’Union africaine

Marco Cappato, Co-fondateur, Science for democracy; Trésorier, Associazione Luca Coscioni

Sir Richard John Roberts, Prix Nobel en Physiologie, Chief Scientific Officer, New England Biolabs 

Autres membres de la Commission de l’Union Africaine, représentants des organizations internationales et/ou des agences des Nations unies

18:45 Adoption du document final

19:30 Diner au Restaurant Habesha 2000

Vous trouverez plus d’informations sur le Congrès ici.

Pour plus d’informations veuillez contacter info@sciencefordemocracy.org

Science/African Union: A World Congress in Addis Ababa on 25/26 February to affirm “the right to science globally”

Science/African Union: A World Congress in Addis Ababa on 25/26 February to affirm “the right to science globally”

Science for Democracy: “Coronavirus should be taken as an opportunity to affirm science as a human right. A strong message to the United Nations from an African perspective.”

Addis Ababa – Rome, February 17th

Science for Democracy, together with Associazione Luca Coscioni, is organizing the 6th meeting of the World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research on “THE RIGHT TO ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF SCIENCE” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 25 to 26 February 2020. The event is co-sponsored by the Commission of the African Union in the person of Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner for Science and Technology. Among speakers: Sir Richard John Roberts, Nobel Prize in Physiology, and Abdi Adam Hoosow, Minister of public works, Somalia.

The themes at the center of the debate will contribute to the global debate on the “Right to Science”, which constitutes the object of the latest “General Comment” of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, soon to be adopted at the United Nations in Geneva.

Once approved, the document will create an obligation for Member States to report on the respect of both the freedom indispensable for scientific research and the fundamental human right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.

The World Congress in Addis Ababa will include panel discussions on the concrete enjoyment of the benefits of science in different fields, such as: the promotion of scientific culture; open access to science; genome editing on humans, vegetal biotechnologies; rare, infectious and non-transmissible diseases as well as aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence.

The interaction between science, the scientific method, evidence-based debates and the decision-making process in full respect of the international Rule of Law has always been at the center of the five meetings of the  World Congress organized since 2004 at the Italian and European Parliament by the Associazione Luca Coscioni.

The Addis Congress will explain the ramifications the “right of” and the “right to” science on a variety of topics that are becoming crucial for African countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, arguing that international legality will need to take into structural consideration all issues related to scientific evidence when policy decisions are taken, stressing the need to educate the general public on the ways in which science works through the verification, duplication, and falsification of research. All SDGs would greatly benefit from investments in research and technology to strengthen science and innovation in the developing world.

Marco Perduca, President of Science for Democracy and Coordinator of the Congress, declared:

“The Coronavirus emergency has just proved how important it is to rely on the free circulation of scientific information, appropriate investments in scientific research and medical facilities, a global system of coordination and intervention. All these are aspects of the right to science which, if fully respected, could strengthen democracy and the rule of law the world over. We hope that our Addis Congress will provide some concrete proposals on how to better promote and protect science as a human right.”

You can find out more about the Congress here.

For more information please contact info@sciencefordemocracy.org.

The General Comment on Science is very good but could be even better!

The General Comment on Science is very good but could be even better!

The Associazione Luca Coscioni (ALC) and Science for Democracy (SfD) commend the work of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on their comprehensive “General Comment on Science” that has addressed the implications of science within a human rights framework. 

The Associazione Luca Coscioni and Science for Democracy are convinced that given the importance of the elements included in the GC, the arguments it provides should be developed into guidelines for Member States to assist them in their implementation of Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. 

The Asociazione Luca Coscioni dedicated its 2015 General Assembly to the “Right to Science”, and has been working to highlight the implications and repercussions of science on the welfare and wellbeing of society. Since its founding in October 2018, Science for Democracy has reinforced those activities to raise awareness on the need to take as many scientific developments as possible into consideration in the drafting of the GC. Side-events at the UN in Geneva, New York, and Vienna have been organized to promote the inclusion of science-related issues within the wider human rights discourse thanks to the contribution of jurists and scientists.

Given the importance of the General Comment, it is of the utmost importance that the final paragraph is moved to the beginning of the text. 

This set of rights, entitlements, liberties, duties or obligations related to science, analyzed in the General Comment, might be brought together in a single broad concept named “the human right to science”, in the same way that, for example, “the human right to health” encompasses a broad set of rights and freedoms affecting human wealth and well-being. This approach and name have already been adopted by the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights,  UNESCO, some international conferences and summits and by some important scientific organizations and publications.

The recommendations submitted by the Associazione Luca Coscioni and Science for Democracy intend to suggest a further elaboration on some issues such as for instance:

  • the need to emphasize a free research regardless of the issue investigated;
  • the need to clarify the freedom for researchers to communicate their work;
  • the need to balance the precautionary principle with the “innovation” principle; 
  • the need to involve the public in evidence-based decisions;
  • the need to avoid any reference to “morality”;
  • the need to take into further consideration developments in the field of research on controlled substances for medical reasons,
  • the need to expand on indigenous traditions.

The Associazione Luca Coscioni and Science for Democracy believe that the General Comment on Science should suggest the creation of a Special Rapporteur, whose work should be entirely dedicated to the monitoring of all the human rights-related implications of science. 

Read the Written contribution to the Draft General Comment on Science

Three recommendations on the General Comment on Science

Three recommendations on the General Comment on Science

A few weeks ago, the draft General Comment on Science was published.

Science for Democracy has been campaigning for years for the full recognition of the right to science, and will be submitting comments to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There are three main recommendations:

1) Paragraph 89, the last of the document that is dedicated to “A human right to science” should be included at the outset of the text and, possibly, reformulated as follows:

This set of rights, entitlements, liberties, duties or obligations related to science, analyzed in this General Comment, might be brought together in a single broad concept named “the human right to science”, in the same way that, for example, “the human right to health” encompasses a broad set of rights and freedoms affecting human wealth and well-being. This approach and this name have already been adopted by the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, by UNESCO, by some international conferences and summits and by some important scientific organizations and publications.

2) The General Comment should become the basis for the development of guidelines to assist Member States in their documenting the implementation of article 15 of the ICESCR.

3) Given the growing importance of science in our daily life, and its possible positive and negative impact on billions of people, Member States should consider the possibility to establish a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Science or the human rights implication of Science (as described in the General Comment) also through ad hoc debates to be hosted by the UN Council on Human Rights.

Science for Democracy invites everyone to contact their government to share these recommendations and ask them to submit them on behalf of their Member State, in order to show the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that there is a wide consensus around these proposals.

The General Comment will also be part of the agenda of the VI World Congress for freedom of scientific research that will be held in Addis Ababa on 25-26 February.

Putting data science to work on the farm

Putting data science to work on the farm

How the digital transformation of farming is reducing risk and increasing confidence

Farming is one of the riskiest professions in the world. That’s because the amount of capital a farmer invests each year to raise a crop is enormous, while the challenges they face from season to season are constantly evolving. With more mouths to feed and fewer people to feed them, farmers must contend with a changing climate, resource limitations, low commodity prices and shifting consumer expectations.

Whether dealing with nature’s unpredictability or volatile markets, farmers try to reduce risk in their operations by increasing crop yields and effectively managing key farm inputs such as water, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. Like business owners or executives in other industries, they’re starting to use data and insights to optimize productivity, profitability and sustainability.

The digital transformation of farming

Applying data science in agriculture is only as powerful as the farmer’s ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data sets. When farmers are able to easily connect their equipment —  such as tractors, combines, irrigation systems and other on-farm sensors — and use their own agronomic data to make more informed decisions, they begin to experience the true value of digital farming. When their farm data can be combined with other agricultural data sets to uncover unique insights, the potential of digital farming is endless.

Continue reading the article on Politico

How to participate in the 6th World Congress

How to participate in the 6th World Congress

Science for Democracy is happy to share the conditions to take part in the VI World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research, “The right to ENJOY the benefits of SCIENCE, an African Perspective”, on February 24-25-26 2020 (working languages Italian, English and French).

It is even more happy to do so now that its goal of the past few years – the right to science – has been put on the agenda of the UN.


500€ package* everything included for the 2020 members of the Associazione Luca Coscioni
550€ package* everything included for non-members

  • package (*) including return plane tickets, stay in a hotel double room (a single room costs 50€ extra, in total not per night), dinners, lunches, coffee breaks, and shuttles to move around, to be transferred to the Associazione Luca Coscioni (HERE the info and payment options)
  • departure from Milan Malpensa late in the evening of February 23 (arrival in Addis Ababa on the morning of the 24th) and return arriving in Milan at dawn on February 27;
  • departure from Rome Fiumicino late in the evening of February 23 (arrival in Addis Ababa on the morning of the 24th) and return to Rome at dawn on the 27th;
  • stay at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel.
  • goals of the VI world Congress (HERE), organised together with the African Union;
  • the agenda is being prepared, and will be available at the end of January;
  • the UN document on the right to science which will be at the centre of the debate (HERE)

NB Useful information:

Passport: required, with remaining validity of at least 6 months.

Entry visa: required, to be requested online, or at the Ethiopian embassy. The tourist visa can also be obtained upon arrival at the Addis Ababa airport (with the exceptions of citizens of Eritrean origin, who cannot receive the visa at the airport). Tourist visas with a validity of 30 days are issued at the Addis Ababa airport, at a cost of 50$ or the euro equivalent, currently 44€).

SfD is still waiting for a response regarding the possibility of obtaining courtesy visas.

Vaccines: there are no compulsory vaccinations.

To organise the Congress in the best way possible kindly confirm your attendance by Monday, January 20th, by writing to info@sciencefordemocracy.org and attaching a copy of your payment. It will be possible to confirm your attendance at a later date, but at that point you will not be guaranteed the same conditions offered by Ethiopian Airlines.

Science for Democracy hopes you will confirm your attendance, to meet you in Addis Ababa, and to continue this journey together, to affirm the human right to enjoy the benefits of science.