This is one of the questions we have asked to dozens of national delegates and experts who on 22 February 2018, took part in the panel discussion on the “right to science” organised by Italy at the United Nations Headquarters upon the initiative of the “Luca Coscioni Association” in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Our answer is that from now on we must consider science as an integral part of fundamental human rights.
UN Conventions already provide for this assumption, but nobody has so far bothered to enforce them, with the result that in some countries scientists are targeted by government repression, or “simply” deprived of the necessary funding to carry out research, or subject to senseless prohibitions which, in the name of animal or vegetable “sacredness of life”, hamper progress towards the discovery of cures against life-threatening diseases or the efforts to tackle water and food scarcity.
Therefore, the “right to science” applies not only to scientists, but above all to citizens throughout the world, who have the right to enjoy scientific progress, without suffering discrimination due to economic or ideological reasons.
In addition to citizens and scientists, science would also be essential for politicians and democracy.
In the era of fake news and electoral manipulation, nothing like the scientific method is fundamental to ensure that decision-making is based on facts, on evidence.
For this reason, with today’s conference at the United Nations Headquarters we have started a real global campaign, with the aim of compelling national states to account for their approach to scientific knowledge, in the hope that the international community may help to govern scientific progress using law and democracy as weapons.
If we do not, dictatorial countries will organise themselves to attract scientific investments, without the necessary controls in terms of fairness and respect for the weakest.
Scientific knowledge is the new frontier of human rights. Starting today, a global campaign is going to involve women and men of good will for the affirmation of freedoms that are fundamental for everyone’s quality of life.