Nov 24 2008 Posted: 00:00 GMT
Professor William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, has said the human right to 'share in scientific advancement and its benefits' could become pivotal in the climate change debate. Professor Schabas was speaking following a high-level meeting at NUI Galway over the weekend, jointly organised with UNESCO and the Amsterdam Centre of International Law. Almost 60 years ago, the right of everyone to share in scientific advancement and its benefits was first established in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to Professor Schabas: "From a legal standpoint, the right to enjoy the benefit of scientific progress and its applications remains largely unexplored. Yet in today's context, there is undoubtedly a relationship between the right to benefit from scientific progress, climate change and environmental protection. The necessity to share the benefits of scientific progress and knowledge across humanity in the face of a global challenge has never been so relevant". He continued: "We already know that those living in poverty, in sub-Saharan Africa for example, are among the first casualties of climate change. The question for national and international law makers is how the right to benefit from scientific progress will be interpreted in relation to global climate change". The Professor also noted, as UNESCO has reported previously, that progress in science and technology does not necessarily constitute "progress" for humankind. Elements of scientific research can also have detrimental consequences leading to ethical questions. This might include sophisticated weaponry, untested medicines or genetically modified products. Opened in 2000, the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway supports the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law. The Centre offers a range of postgraduate programmes including International Human Rights Law, International Peace Support Operations, Human Rights Law, and Human Rights and Criminal Justice. At undergraduate level, NUI Galway also offers a new Bachelor of Arts with Human Rights.