The UN CESCR's General Comment 25 on the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress

One of the remarkable aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been how brilliantly science has responded: in tracing the genome of the virus, in understanding how it spreads and in developing vaccines and medical treatments for COVID-19. Yet these scientific gains have not been available to all. Article 15(1)(b) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guarantees that: “everyone has the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.” And, of course, this right extends to all scientific discoveries. Until recently, the right to enjoy the benefits of science had received little scholarly attention but that is now changing and the “sleeping beauty”, as William Schabas called it, may now be waking. In 2020, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published General Comment 25, the first to consider the right in depth. In this Bonavero Discussion Group, we are delighted to welcome Professor Rodrigo Uprimny, one of the members of the UN Committee that authored the report, as well as a member of the Bonavero Institute Advisory Council. Professor Uprimny will speak about the drafting of the report and its contents, and what impact the right may have in the decades ahead.

Professor Rodrigo Uprimny is a lawyer, with a Master’s degree (DEA) in sociology of development from the University Paris I (IEDES) and a PhD in Economy from Amiens University. He was a Professor and is now Professor Emeritus at the National University of Colombia, and has been a visiting professor at several universities. Professor Rodrigo Uprimny was an assistant magistrate and temporary replacement at the Colombian Constitutional Court and is co-judge of that Court and of the Council of State. He is a member of the International Commission of Jurists and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2015-2022). He has also served as a Consultant for the United Nations Development Programme on subjects of violence, citizen participation, conflict resolution, and justice. Professor Rodrigo Uprimny was co-founder and Director of the Colombian research and advocacy organization Dejusticia and is currently Member of the Board of Directors of Dejusticia and coordinator of the Drug Policy Line. His areas of interest are especially Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, transitional justice, judicial system and drug policy. He has published several books and articles on these issues, as author or co-author. He has published extensively on human rights, tensions between law and economics, drug trafficking, and the courts. He is also a columnist for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador.

Leah Trueblood will act as discussant. She is a Career Development Fellow in Public Law at Worcester College, and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. She completed her DPhil at Oxford in 2018. Her thesis was entitled ‘The Uses and Abuses of Referendums’ and funded by a Fellowship from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Her research is at the intersection of political theory and public law. She is particularly interested in referendums, democratic legitimacy, the concept of representation, and the role of science in democracy. Her work has been featured by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Discover Magazine, and the Guardian.