Linking science and human rights: Facts and figures

A human rights-based approach to science, technology and development seeks to place a concern for human rights at the heart of how the international community engages with urgent global challenges. It entered the UN's lexicon in 1997, with Kofi Annan's call for human rights to be integrated into the UN's mandates, management, and methodologies for development and international cooperation.
The UN Development Programme characterises this approach as one that "leads to better and more sustainable outcomes by analyzing and addressing the inequalities, discriminatory practices and unjust power relations which are often at the heart of development problems. It puts the international human rights entitlements and claims of the people (the 'right-holders') and the corresponding obligations of the state (the 'duty-bearer') in the centre of the national development debate, and it clarifies the purpose of capacity development". [1]
However, there is no universally accepted definition of human rights-based approaches. [2] This does not necessarily mean the concept lacks focus or substance. On the contrary, it provides a framework for confronting important global issues — from gender biases to food and water safety to misuses of science and technology — grounded in a set of principles, developed through international consensus (see box 1), that clarify the relationship between 'rights holders' and 'duty bearers'. [3]

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