COVID-19: Time to Invest in the Human Right to Science
8 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2020 Last revised: 12 Aug 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
In light of the current global health crisis, the human right to science can be viewed as the most crucial human right. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the human right to science at the heart of several domestic and global agendas. Agendas at the forefront being the status of inequalities pertaining to the right to benefits from scientific research, and the existing intellectual property frameworks vis-à-vis universal access to the benefits of scientific advances relating to COVID-19.
Under the international human rights framework, the human right to science finds its place in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR], the International Covenant on Economic, Social, Cultural Rights [ICESCR] and regional human rights frameworks. The right has been part of a series of deliberations between the UN organizations, states, and other stakeholders. Deliberations have mostly been directed towards elaborating upon the relationship between science and human rights and in search of a more concise definition of the right. Despite the attention the right has received, it is still vague in terms of its content and related obligations. According to the CESCR, state parties in relation to the right, give least attention to in their reports and dialogues with the Committee. It is also viewed as the least known, discussed, and enforced of the rights recognized in the ICESCR.
In 2020, the Committee under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [CESCR hereinafter] issues two statements [General Comment No. 25 on science and economic, social and cultural rights and the COVID-19 Statement] bringing the focus on the right to science and highlighting its importance in light of the pandemic.
Keywords: right to science, ICESCR, general comments, human rights framework, scientific information, COVID-19, intellectual property rights, global inequality
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