Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
International Human Rights Day celebrates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted on December 10, 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.
The theme for this year's Human Rights Day is "inclusion and the right to participate in public life" with a focus on making your voice count. For more about this year's theme see the United Nations event page.
What are the connections between science and human rights?
- Scientists have human rights
- Science and technology can be applied to human rights
- The conduct of science and applications of technology may have human rights implications
- International law recognizes the right to "enjoy the benefits of scientific progress"
- Scientists can be a constituency for human rights
To learn more about these connections go to the bottom of this page.
To commemorate International Human Rights Day, the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program is hosted Amnesty International's annual Global Write-A-Thon on Friday, December 7. In addition to the letters Amnesty International members all over the world wrote that week, this event highlighted human rights concerns for scientists, engineers and health professionals.
Information and letter writing supplies was available for participants to take action for Professor Kemal Gürüz (a retired professor of chemical engineering imprisoned in Turkey), Dr. Abdul Jalil Al-Singace (a mechanical engineer imprisoned in Bahrain) and Omid Kokabee (a physics student imprisoned in Iran).
Guests at this event included Dr. Arash Alaei. Dr. Alaei's work to prevent HIV/AIDS in Iran has been recognized as a model in the Middle East and North Africa, and with his brother, Dr. Arash Alaei, he is the recipient of many awards, including the New York Academy of Science's Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award. In 2008, Dr. Alaei and his brother were imprisoned in Iran and the editorial board of Nature, the Harvard School of Public Health and other scientific organizations joined human rights groups including Physicians for Human Rights and Amnesty International in calling for the doctors' release. Now Dr. Alaei and his brother are creating a Center for Health and Human Rights at the State University of New York in Albany.
Brief remarks were given by a representative of AAAS to highlight the important role of science and technology in realizing human rights, including the AAAS Geospatial Technologies for Human Rights Project, and a representative from Amnesty International USA emphasized the importance of individual action for protecting human rights.
Read the AAAS news piece on this event: Amnesty International, AAAS Host Letter-Writing Campaign on Behalf of Imprisoned Scientists.
"Human Rights Summit: American Ideals. Universal Values"
When: December 4th-5th
Who: Human Rights First
Where: The Newseum, Knight Conference Center, Washington D.C.
15th United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights
When: December 5th-7th
Where: UN Headquarters, New York, NY
Live webcast of the event will be available.
"Bioethics and Human Rights: Privacy and Consent"
When: December 6th at 1:00 p.m.
Where: Law Library of Congress Mumford Room, James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave S.E., Washington DC
"The Human Right to Housing: A Report Card on U.S. Policy"
Film Screening: "Justice for Sale: The Quest for Justice in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo"
When: December 10th from 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Who: The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Rudolf Bekink
Where: American Bar Association, 740 15th Street NW, Washington DC. RSVP to Alexander Kofman.
Powerpoint presentation on the relationship between science and human rights.
Wyndham, J., 'How can we uphold the right to science?' (SciDev.net), December 10, 2008
Rubenstein, L. and Younis, M., 'Scientists and Human Rights' (Science) November 28, 2008
AAAS, 'AAAS Board of Directors Urges Scientsits to Join Global Discussion on Right to Benefit from Science' (AAAS News Release), April 19, 2010
Lempinen, E. (ed.), 'AAAS Testimony: Science is "Vital" to Human Rights' (Science) November 25, 2011
PBS, 'Seeing Through the Fog of War: Monitoring Human Rights Abuses Via Satellite' (PBS NewsHour) August 15, 2012
Wyndham, J., 'Freedom and Engineering for All' (Mechanical Engineering) September 2012
(page updated 02/06/2013)