AAAS Coalition Explores Human Rights Implications of Open Access
AAAS Coalition Explores Human Rights Implications of Open Access
AAAS Coalition Explores Human Rights Implications of Open Access

July 2013

The Science and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) met in Washington, D.C., earlier this month to discuss Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications. 

The meeting, which drew 130 participants, explored challenging conceptual questions about the meaning and implementation of this right, including those raised by open access to data and in the context of international research collaborations.

AERA Exec. Dir. Felice Levine (center) speaks at AAAS meeting
The opening plenary dealt with the contributions of scientists and engineers to defining Article 15, as Jessica Wyndham, AAAS, and Margaret Vitullo, American Sociological Association, gave a brief history of the right and explored key questions such as how scientists define the benefits of science, pointing to health as the most frequently mentioned benefit.  

Another plenary focused on international scientific cooperation and Article 15, and featured experts from the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations.  E. William Colglazier, the science and technology advisor to the secretary of state, emphasized that there is a global interest in making every country a knowledge- and science-based society, which would greatly inform policy decisions, increase economic growth, and grow the middle class. 

AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine spoke as part of a lively panel of experts on the issue of “Conserving, Developing, and Diffusing Science: Article 15 and Open Access,” which also included Molly Land, University of Connecticut, and Alan Leshner, American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Levine focused on the implications of open access for scholarly publishers and stressed that scientific and engineering publishers have a responsibility to diffuse knowledge widely to the public.  

AERA, which is one of the 51 member organizations of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, adopted a statement on human rights in April 2013 that includes consideration of Article 15.


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