Right to science and culture
The right to science and culture is one of the economic, social and cultural rights claimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related documents of international human rights law. It recognizes that everyone has a right to participate in culture, to benefit from science and technology, and to protection of authorship.
Recognition under international law
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
The right to science and culture also appears in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
(1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
(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.
Related concepts and disambiguation
The right to science and culture is often referred to separately as "the right to take part in cultural life" "or the right to cultural participation" or "the right to culture," and "the right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications" or "the right to benefit from science" or "the right to science."
The term "cultural rights" may be used in at least three senses. It is most often used to refer to the concept protected by Article 27 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which assures minority groups the right to practice and preserve their languages, religions, art forms, and ways of life. Alternatively, the term "cultural rights" may be used to group both minority rights and the right to science and culture, which have a common origin in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration. Even more broadly, "cultural rights" may be used to refer to a larger category of economic, social and cultural rights, which may be understood to refer to the right to science and culture as well as the right to education.
Scholarly interpretation and advocacy
All human rights found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights require a process of interpretation to translate the broad principles into specific state obligations. This takes place through United Nations processes and in national courts. The process is strongly influenced by human rights scholars and human rights activists.
The right to science and culture remains at a relatively early stage in this process, in contrast to other human rights such as the right to health or the right to education that have already been the subject of more extensive elaboration and litigation.
Some authors particularly active in this area include: Samantha Besson, Audrey R. Chapman, Yvonne Donders, Laurence Helfer, Lea Shaver, William Schabas, Jessica Wyndham, and Peter Yu.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is active in advocacy around the right to science and culture, with a particular focus on the rights and responsibilities of professional scientists.
The Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has issued two General Comments interpreting portions of the right to science and culture. General Comment 17 and General Comment 21. The Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Farida Shaheed, addressed the right to science and culture in several reports between 2010 and 2015.
Relationship to intellectual property
In 2000 the United Nations Economic and Social Council Sub-commission on Human Rights suggested that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights may violate the right to science and therefore conflict with international human rights law.
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