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