The Human Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications

The human right to enjoy benefits of scientific progress and its applications includes protection of cultural and scientific works, and encourages putting science to work improving society. In April 2010, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science adopted a statement on this right. The goal was to engage the scientific community to define it, and then apply it to a diverse range of scientific disciplines. These findings were later provided to the United Nations.

Defining the Right

To define this right, APA conducted a focus group (PDF, 99KB) in 2011. The results from the focus group helped inform the report, “Defining the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications: American Scientists' Perspectives.”1 (PDF, 702KB)

The report stated that everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Major points included:

  • Science and culture should be developed, protected and shared.
  • Any moral and material interests resulting from a person’s scientific, literary or artistic works should be protected.
  • International scientific and cultural cooperation should be encouraged.

Seeing the Right in Action

Preventing firearm violence

APA’s Resolution on Firearm Violence Research and Prevention focuses on reducing gun violence through a comprehensive, science-based public health approach. It calls for research that identifies risk and protective factors vis-à-vis firearms violence for diverse groups. The resolution also advocates for enhanced  mental health services to meet the needs of both people with severe mental illness and those in emotional crisis.

Reducing sexual orientation discrimination

In response to media reports that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni planned to use  scientific information about homosexuality as the basis for his decision regarding Uganda’s "Anti-Homosexuality Act," (PDF, 21KB) members of the International Psychology Network for LGBTI Issues and two international psychological organizations sent  the president of Uganda a letter that included scientific information about homosexuality. They encouraged the president to reject the bill, thereby affirming  Uganda's commitment to human rights. 


Reference
1 “Defining the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications: American Scientists' Perspectives” report was prepared on behalf of the Service to the STEM Community Working Group of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Human Rights Coalition, an APA member.