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Lunch Lecture @FRIAS Reflections with Yvonne Donders

Prof. Dr. Yvonne Donders
International human rights and cultural diversity
University of Amsterdam

Yvonne Donders - The right to science as a legal concept in international law
Wann 03.06.2020
von 15:00 bis 16:00
Wo Zoom-Meeting
Name
Teilnehmer Universitätsoffen / open to university members
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The right to science as a legal concept in international law

The right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, in short the right to science, is embedded in international law instruments, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Core elements of the right to science are scientific freedom, the sharing of scientific output and outcome, and international cooperation.

The human right to science has great potential to enable science to contribute more effectively to major issues, including for instance the current Corona pandemic. However, the right to science so far remains a vague legal norm that does not inform major science policies and governance issues at national and international levels and gives no guidance to practicing scientists. Question is also to what extent international law, based on inter-State agreement, is a suitable means to develop norms relating to scientific progress.


The talk is part of the Lunch Lecture Series 2020 “Science and Society in a Postfactual Era”

The values of science are under attack. The world is increasingly turning to science and technology for solutions to persistent socio-economic and developmental problems. Yet, at the same time, many people – from concerned citizens to powerful stakeholders – do not trust science. Public trust is suffering as falsehood is presented as ‘alternative facts’, ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’, and the ‘dual use’ and unintended consequences of emerging technologies as artificial intelligence or genetic engineering is perceived as an increasing risk.  The resulting devaluation of science-based reasoning is a problem for the scientific community, but also for democratic societies that rely on rational discourse and evidence-based decision-making. At the same time, social movements, such as Fridays for Future, emphasize the importance of scientific facts and hope to induce social and political change with evidence-based policies.

From a normative perspective, attention and adherence to the ethical and legal standards of science are crucial for creating trust in science among policy-makers and the general public. Furthermore, obstacles to the diffusion of scientific knowledge and its applications such as scientific illiteracy and lack of access to new technologies jeopardize the potential of science to help successfully address the grand challenges of our times. In this Lunch Lecture Series we will (1) map how science-based reasoning and decision-making is threatened and (2) how emerging digital technologies fuel postfactual and irrational discourses in society as well as (3) explore concepts and ideas, such as the ‘right to science’ that could strengthen science as a central tenet for democracy, human flourishing and sustainable development.