The Right to Science and Culture

64 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2009 Last revised: 3 May 2014

See all articles by Lea Bishop

Lea Bishop

Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

Date Written: March 6, 2009


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “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.” This Article suggests how this text may offer a philosophical and legal basis to constrain the further expansion of protectionism in international IP law.

Drawing on accepted methodologies of human rights interpretation and recent research from legal and economic scholars on the value of preserving the knowledge commons, the Article offers a theory of “the right to science and culture” as requiring a public goods approach to knowledge innovation and diffusion. The Article then translates this public goods theory into concrete guidance for policy makers seeking to implement human rights obligations, and for jurists asked to adjudicate rights-based challenges to copyright and patent laws. In conclusion, this Article suggests that reviving attention to this long-marginalized provision of international public law may provide an important rhetorical and legal tool with which to open up new possibilities for sensible IP reform.

Keywords: human rights, intellectual property, access to knowledge, universal declaration, UDHR, socio-economic rights, cultural rights, Article 27, ICESCR, Article 15, science, culture, technology

Suggested Citation

Bishop (formerly Shaver), Lea, The Right to Science and Culture (March 6, 2009). Wisconsin Law Review 2010, no. 1 121-184 , Available at SSRN: or

Lea Bishop (formerly Shaver) (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )


Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics