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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Human Rights
of the NAS, NAE, and NAM

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Learn more about topics at the intersection of human rights and science, health, and technology. 

Right to Science

The human right to science is recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and various other international and regional instruments.  Article 27 of the UDHR refers to the right of everyone to "...share in scientific advancement and its benefits", while Article 15 of the ICESCR enshrines the right to "enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications".  It further obliges States Parties to respect the freedom "indispensable for scientific research" and to take necessary steps "for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science".  The ICESCR also affirms the benefits to be derived from international scientific cooperation.  

In April 2020 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) published General Comment No. 25 on Science and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which provides interpretative guidance on the right to science and a basis for measuring and monitoring implementation of the right.  Background information about General Comment No. 25, including input provided by scientists and scientific organizations to the drafting of the General Comment, can be found here.   

The following materials provide additional information about the nature and scope of the right to science, as well as efforts to put it into practice.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, working together with the members of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, played an important role in efforts to define the right to science and continues to push for and monitor its implementation. Among the most significant contributions of these efforts was research conducted to elicit the perspectives of scientists, engineers and health professionals, in the United States and globally, as to the meaning of the right to science.

Key literature and resources arising from that research are linked below:


The 2020 AAAS Science, Technology and Human Rights Conference featured a panel discussion
about the U.N.’s recent adoption of an authoritative definition of the right to science.


 Other resources compiled by AAAS on the right to science are available here: