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Part 3 - International response
5. Impacts of scientific and technological
progress on human rights: normative response of the international
6. The institutional responses
5. Impacts of scientific and technological progress on human rights: normative response of the international community
Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the international community has sought constantly to elaborate and refine the normative framework within which human rights should be respected. However, despite considerable discussion devoted to the subject, refinements of human rights legislation with respect to the world's rapidly advancing scientific and technological prowess have failed to keep pace with other branches of United Nations human rights law-making.
It is evident that, as societies evolve, so too do the conditions under which human rights in any given society can most effectively be realized. Those conditions naturally change and, in some cases, expand or become more complex. In addition, new scientific and technological developments also modify the means to act which the state, private enterprise, and the individual have at their disposal. As a result, both the nature and scope of human rights violations - as well as the conditions which must be met in order to protect those rights - are in a permanent state of flux and demand continual re-evaluation.
Advancements in science and technology have so far proved a mixed blessing with respect to the protection of human rights. For instance, cheaper and more efficient means of communication which have evolved over the past 20 to 30 years have served to increase the flow of information across borders of all kinds: geographical, political, industrial, and interpersonal. Thus the right to freedom of expression and, in particular, the right to information, is enhanced. However, it must be acknowledged that the same advances in technology that afford human beings greater access to information also permit governments, political parties, and other bureaucrats to gain even tighter control of that information. Furthermore, the relative ease with which information can now be communicated almost instantaneously to wide audiences heightens the dangers posed by the dissemination of faulty or distorted information, i.e. disinformation.
It is in these particular contexts that the slogan "the right to know" has become of crucial importance in interpreting Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds..."
With the evolution of society, new conditions give birth to new aspirations which could lead to a reformulation of rights that have been expressed differently in previous situations1 However, the ease with which human rights are formulated and reformulated is in contrast to the absence of effective remedies. Contrary to common-law tradition, in which remedies precede rights, human rights are aspirations which can be declared even in the absence of remedies. The exercise in reformulating rights can foster the illusion that solutions can be found. Or worse, this could be a way to avoid providing solutions.
The international human rights norms related to science and technology offer a corpus of texts which can be analysed in terms of the underlying conceptions of man and society that prevail in the international community at a particular moment. Inasmuch as scientific and technological progress interferes with life and death, with different types of societies and communities (such as the family), as well as with nature and the environment, human rights problems which arise from this process are numerous and diverse. Varied discussions have developed internationally on such problems as the right to privacy, the beginning and end of life, manipulation of the mind, etc., from the human rights angle.
Despite the great amount of discussion on the impact of science and technology on human rights, the normative response resulting from it is relatively meagre. The international norms established to counter the effects of scientific and technological progress on human rights are often scattered among different kinds of other human rights problems such as torture and medical ethics, or find themselves as vague references in the declarations concerning welfare or development in general. The only international human rights instrument specifically related to scientific and technological progress is the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interest of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind (10 November 1975), which expresses the wish that all states make use of scientific and technological progress for good purposes.
This study will retrace the evolution of the normative instruments which have been elaborated to cope with human rights problems faced with scientific and technological progress. Before doing so, however, a stocktaking of those human rights which are particularly affected by scientific and technological progress will be necessary.
HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH ARE PARTICULARLY AFFECTED BY SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS
Among the human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the following rights would seem to be particularly affected by scientific and technological progress:
- The right to life (Article 3), in the sense that science (biology, medicine, etc.) as well as technology (gene technology, nuclear technology,2 etc.) can determine or influence birth and death. Problems posed by abortion, in vitro fertilization, embryo transplantation, euthanasia techniques, untested drugs, are examples.
- The right to physical and spiritual integrity (Article 5 stipulates that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment). Use of drugs and other chemical controls of the mind, psychological and physical testing methods, and behaviour therapy are still often used in interrogation.
- The right to privacy (Article 12 stipulates that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. . . ). The developments in recording, surveillance devices, personality tests, and other communication techniques based on electronics, optics, and acoustics, as well as new reproduction techniques, have considerably changed the ways in which privacy could be protected.
- The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to information (Article 19). Developments of micro-electronic communication technology have changed the conditions in which this right is exercised.
In a less precise way, the exercise of the following rights is influenced by scientific and technological progress:
- The right to property (Article 17)3 Developments of new forms of property, such as software, have given rise to new thinking about the right to property.
- The right to work (Article 23). Developments of new technologies have changed market structures affecting the right to work.
- The right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services (Article 25). Scientific and technological progress can engender new forms of discrimination in the exercise of this right. Lack of access to medical information can also affect adversely the right to health.
- The right to education (Article 26). Developments in communication and information technology can promote this right but they can also create new forms of discrimination in education.
- The right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits (Article 27). Scientific and technological developments do not in themselves guarantee this right, but combined with the reinforcement of freedom of expression, the right to information and the right to education, this right can be promoted, thanks to a better communication technology.
Thus, scientific and technological progress can have both negative and positive impacts on human rights. The effects depend often on the right to information and freedom of expression. Inasmuch as technological progress produces conditions favourable to disinformation and cultural indoctrination, the right to in formation and freedom of expression seems to be a crucial factor in transforming scientific and technological progress into conditions conducive to a better respect of human rights.
The international norms so far developed to cope with human rights problems arising from scientific and technological progress seem to have ignored this crucial dimension - the right to information and freedom of expression - which inevitably intervenes when dealing with these problems.
INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS AS A MEANS OF PROTECTION AGAINST THE ABUSE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Instruments of a General Character
The provisions contained in the International Covenants on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on 16 December 1966, reiterate those rights enumerated above.
The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the right to life (Article 6), the right to physical and spiritual integrity (Article 7), the right to privacy (Article 17), and the right to information (Article 19). Article 7 stipulates specifically that "no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation." Article 19 adds details about various forms of communication for receiving and imparting information, implying that freedom of expression should be adapted to the conditions posed by the advances in communication technology. ("Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.")
Instruments of a Specific Character
The Right to Life
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1948, protects in Article 11 (d) the right to life against the abuse of science and technology:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following
acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:
(a) killing members of the group;
(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The problems relating to the right to life posed by recent developments in gene technology have inspired many international and national research projects on this matter.4 The Council of Europe, as well as Unesco, have ongoing research programmes on the impacts of gene technology on human rights However, this has not yet reached the stage of a normative instrument being drafted.
The Right to Physical and Spiritual Integrity
Although they do not specifically refer to medical, scientific, or biological techniques, the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (9 December 1975), the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (17 December 1979), as well as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (10 December 1984) protect this right against torture.
The Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (18 December 1982) explicitly stipulates in Principle 4(a):
It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel, particularly physicians,
(a) to apply their knowledge and skills in order to assist in the interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that may adversely affect the physical or mental health or condition of such prisoners or detainees and which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments
Within the Council of Europe, the Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted on 7 duly 1987, establishing a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. The Committee is authorized by the state parties to visit those persons who are deprived of their liberty by public authorities.
The Right to Privacy
National legislation has been elaborated in many Western countries to protect personal data (Sweden in 1973, United States in 1974, New Zealand in 1976, Federal Republic of Germany in 1977, Denmark in 1978, Norway in 1978, France in 1978, Canada in 1982 and Japan in 1988). Within the United Nations, however, no specific normative instrument has been drawn up to protect the right to privacy. In the OECD and the Council of Europe, the development of computer-tele-communications technology gave rise to a movement to protect the right to privacy, especially in respect of the handling of personal data. The OECD adopted in 1981 the "Guidelines on the Protection and Transborder Flows of Personal Data." The Council of Europe adopted, also in 1981, the "Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data." It protects the right to privacy in the automatic processing of personal data, without prohibiting their transborder flows.
Unesco has also encouraged research in comparative Iegislation concerning data protection, although no international norms have been established. The initial research result covering 1968-1971 was published in the Social Science Journal in 1972.5 Unesco updated this study and added some intercultural research on the notion of privacy for publication in 1988.
The Right to Information
In 1947 the United Nations established a Sub-Commission on Freedom of Information and the Press. A world conference on this subject was held in 1948, but the Sub-Commission ceased to function in 1952, due in part to controversies over its functions. As a consequence, no normative instrument has been elaborated by the UN on the right to information, with the exception of the Convention on the International Right of Correction (16 December 1952). This Convention assures the contracting state the right to exercise the right of correction against the contracting states within whose territories a news despatch capable of damaging the state's prestige or dignity or its relations with other states has been published or disseminated. Despite the research effort made at the UN on the impacts of new information and communication technologies on human rights, no attempt has been made to draw up international instruments to reinforce the right to obtain the information held by state bureaucracies, local administration, or institutions with a public mission (e.g. schools, scientific research institutes, nuclear power plants, etc. ). Recently, significant developments have been observed in the national laws ensuring the access to information or documents held by the administration or the institutions carrying out public missions (Freedom of Information Act in the United States in 1966 amended in 1976, Denmark in 1970, Norway in 1970, the Netherlands in 1978, France in 1978, Canada in 1982, Australia in 1982, New Zealand in 1982, United Kingdom in 1985). In comparison with these developments in national laws, no attempt has been made to elaborate an international instrument to protect this "right to know" vis-à-vis public or semi-public institutions. From the point of view of the effects of scientific and technological progress on human rights, this seems to be the most important right, in terms of both the positive and the negative effects of such progress. At the national level, however, information related to the effects of industrial waste on water, the side-effects of medical products on human bodies, or the content of pollution due to power plants or uranium recycling plants can be requested by virtue of legislation allowing access to information or administrative documents.
Within the Council of Europe, attempts have been made to draw up a Convention on mass media based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (4 November 1950), which stipulates: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers..."
At the Colloquium organized in Sevillia in November 1986, which examined this right in connection with the restrictions "necessary in a democratic society"6 contained in paragraph 2 of the same Article, it was argued that such a new formula as the right to know or the right to have access to information, which is not explicitly recognized in the text of the Convention, could be included in the right to freedom of expression, if it affirmed in the case law of the European Convention. The right of the public to receive information and the duty of the mass media to contribute to it, affirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in the Sunday Times case (judgment of 26 April 1979) is a case in point. This case is of particular interest, reflecting as it does the impacts of scientific progress on human rights, as it concerns the harmful side-effects of medicine (thalidomide). In this case, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights was interpreted to include the right of the public to "know" the effects of pharmaceutical products and the obligation of the mass media to diffuse such information.
INSTRUMENTS AS A MEANS TO ASSURE POSITIVE USES OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS FOR ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS
Instruments of a General Character
The Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights refers vaguely to the obligation of the state to use scientific and technological progress for welfare. For example, to achieve the full realization of the right to work, Article 6, pare. 2 stipulates that the state should take steps including "technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual. "
The state should also take the following steps:
- To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources. (Article 11, pare. 2(a))
- [To ensure the] improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene in order to realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. (Article 12, pare. 2(b))
Much state action is expected to provide welfare, but few mechanisms have been developed to oblige the appropriate authorities to take such action. On the other hand, the question of private enterprise is not dealt with, perhaps because it touches delicately upon the important premises of liberal-individualistic society: the market economy, freedom of private enterprise, the right to property, freedom of expression, publicity, etc.
The Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights also assures the individual the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (Article 15, pare. 1(b)).
Instruments of a Specific Character
The Right to Benefit from Scientific
The Unesco Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers, adopted on 20 November 1974, combines the problem of the freedom of researchers and the implications of science and technology for world problems such as development and international peace.
This Recommendation recalls the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly its Article 27, which provides that everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. It recognizes, inter alia, that "A cadre of talented and trained personnel is the cornerstone of an indigenous research and experimental development capability and indispensable for the utilization and exploitation of research carried out elsewhere."
It provides under chapter IV, the Vocation of the Scientific Researcher, that:
Member states should seek to encourage conditions in which scientific researchers, with the support of the public authorities, have the responsibility and the right
(a) to work in a spirit of intellectual freedom to pursue, expound and defend the scientific truth as they see it;
(b) to contribute to the definition of the aims and objectives of the programmes in which they are engaged and to the determination of the methods to be adopted which should be humanely, socially, and ecologically responsible;
(c) to express themselves freely on the human, social, or ecological value of certain projects and in the last resort withdraw from those projects if their conscience so dictates;
(d) to contribute positively and constructively to the fabric of science, culture, and education in their own country, as well as to the achievement of national goals, the enhancement of their fellow citizens' well-being, and the furtherance of the international ideals and objectives of the United Nations. "
The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
The Proclamation of Tehran, adopted by the International Conference on Human Rights on 13 May 1968 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, introduced the distinct categories of developed and developing countries with regard to human rights. Article 12 of the Proclamation affirms:
The widening gap between the economically developed and developing countries impedes the realization of human rights in the international community The failure of the Development Decade to reach its modest objectives makes it all the more imperative for every nation, according to its capacities, to make the maximum to close this gap.
The same proclamation calls attention to the positive and negative effects of scientific and technological progress on human rights, with the emphasis on the potential for development offered by such progress:
While recent scientific discoveries and technological advances have opened vast prospects for economic social and cultural progress, such developments may nevertheless endanger the rights and freedoms of individuals and will require continuing attention. (Article 18)
This distinction between developing and developed states having been introduced into the categories of states, much attention has gradually turned to the rights and responsibilities of the state in exercising its economic and social functions for spreading welfare to developing countries. This has initiated a period where human rights are intricately intertwined with the rights and duties of the state and the rights of peoples, as well as all-inclusive issues of development. The role of information science and technology was also to be associated with human rights, viewed from the particular angle of development.
The Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 November 1975, takes into consideration that, "while scientific and technological developments provide ever-increasing opportunities to better the conditions of life of peoples and nations, in a number of instances they can give rise to social problems, as well as threaten the human rights and fundamental freedom of the individual. " This Declaration proclaims in all its nine articles the responsibilities of the state, particularly
- to promote international co-operation to use the results of scientific and technological developments for strengthening international peace and security and freedom and independence, and for the purpose of the economic and social development of peoples and the realization of human rights;
- to prevent scientific and technological development from being used to curtail the enjoyment of human rights;
- to co-operate in increasing the scientific and technological capacity of developing countries with a view to accelerating the realization of the social and economic rights of the peoples of those countries;
- to extend the benefits of science and technology to all strata of the population and to protect them from possible harmful effects of the misuse of scientific and technological developments.
This Declaration indicates that the major preoccupation of the United Nations in dealing with the impact of science and technology on human rights has turned to economic development and that, in order to achieve this goal, more and more emphasis has been placed on the economic and social functions of the state, both internally and externally.
This tendency towards the identification of a connection between human rights and development coincided with the ongoing effort of the international community to establish a new international economic order. The Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, adopted by the General Assembly on 1 May 1974, proclaims the "united determination to work urgently for the establishment of a new international economic order based on equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest, and co-operation among all states, irrespective of their economic and social systems, which shall correct inequalities and redress existing injustices, make it possible to eliminate the widening gap between the developed and the developing countries. ..." Article 4(p) of the Declaration states the principle of "Giving to the developing countries access to the achievements of modern science and technology, and promoting the transfer of technology and the creation of indigenous technology for the benefit of the developing countries in forms and in accordance with procedures which are suited to their economies." This is followed by two other principles:
(q) the need for all states to put an end to the waste of natural resources, including food products;
(r) the need for developing countries to concentrate all their resources for the cause of development.
The overriding concern with development gives new rights to the state. The Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States adopted by the General Assembly in the same year grants the state the right, inter alia
- to regulate and supervise the activities of transnational corporations within its national jurisdiction (Article 2, pare. 2(b)); and
- to benefit from the advances and developments in science and technology for the acceleration of its economic and social development (Article 13, pare. 1).
The Charter stresses, at the same time, the duties of the "developed countries to cooperate with the developing countries in the establishment, strengthening, and development of their scientific and technological infrastructures and their scientific research and technological activities so as to help to expand and transform the economies of developing countries" (Article 13, pare. 3), and the duties of "all states to co-operate in research with a view to evolving further internationally accepted guidelines or regulations for the transfer of technology, taking fully into account the interests of developing countries" (Article 13, pare 4).
The UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), held in Vienna in 1979, adopted the same line of thought, in a Declaration encouraging future programmes to be conducted for exploring alternative technologies and a better use of science and technology for development.
The implementation of human rights requires appropriate social conditions in all aspects of society. It is therefore natural that the conditions allowing for the implementation of the individual right to benefit from scientific and technological progress, as well as the right to an adequate standard of living, include not only the change of national social conditions, but also the entire world order.
It was in a similar perspective that Unesco carried out, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 331115 of 18 December 1978, consultations on ways and means by which assistance for developing countries could be increased in the field of communication technology and systems for their social progress and economic development. Subsequently, the Declaration on Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights, and to Countering Racism, Apartheid, and Incitement to War was adopted on 28 November 1978.
This Declaration, which aims at creating a "new international information order," conceives, as in other instruments related to the establishment of the new international economic order, of human rights primarily in the context of the elimination of disparities that exist between the developed and developing countries and of the liberation of oppressed peoples. Mass media in this Declaration are considered as a means for achieving human rights, conceived of as a social order to be realized. Mass media, whether in the form of private or state enterprise, have responsibilities to discharge in establishing this order. The meaning of human rights thus loses its individualistic character and becomes action to establish an international order. For those who consider freedom of expression of the private media to be an essential part of human rights, this Declaration, expressing national aspirations for economic development, does not really deal with the right to information as such. Economic well-being is certainly crucial to the exercise of human rights. A clash of principles and interests seems inevitably to occur on the question of whether the liberal-individualistic approach to human rights is compatible with the approach which calls for the active intervention of the state in many spheres of life, from childhood to old age, in education, culture and the economy, as well as in establishing a new international economic order- all these state actions together constituting a conditio sine qua non for the respect of human rights.
Once the international debate on human rights opens up all these divisive questions concerning the relationship between the state and the individual, more effort seems to be spent on arriving at superficial conceptual compromises than on devising effective ways and means of implementing human rights. One result of merely claiming and proclaiming rights of all kinds together can be the lack of conceptual clarifies that we encounter in the international normative texts, as well as the impossibility of achieving real progress in devising remedies.
One of the possible solutions to this impasse would be to specify the areas for implementing different categories of human rights and to dissociate them from the too general issues of economic development, such as transfer of technology, exploitation of natural resources, etc. These latter areas concern primarily the domain of the social and economic functions of the state, private enterprise, the economy and the settlement of disputes between private enterprise and the state.
These problems could perhaps be better solved if they were dealt with in their proper context.7
However, the search for remedies through specification of contexts and issues does not seem to be fashionable today. The Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by General Assembly resolution 41/128 on 4 December 1986, is a case in point. This Declaration reiterates all the civil and political, as well as economic, social, and cultural rights contained in the Covenants to encourage international co-operation to enable "more rapid development of developing countries" (Article 4, pare. 2). The adoption of this instrument could be of help in attenuating North-South verbal conflicts,8 but it hardly provides any real remedies.
POSSIBLE AREAS FOR DRAWING UP NEW INSTRUMENTS RELATED TO THE EFFECTS OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The above overview of international instruments relating to scientific and technological progress demonstrates clearly that the process of norm-making in this field is developing only haphazardly and is not providing sufficient and effective remedies for the problems at hand. Many declarations have been made which urge that scientific and technological advances be put to the best possible use for the greater social good, and few people would argue with these sentiments. But while such declarations do play an important role in sensitizing public consciousness to the human rights issues at hand, they are neither designed to be nor capable of acting as surrogate normative guidelines by which these human rights can be exercised.
The crucial issue in the process of finding an equilibrium between the progress of science and technology and the protection of human rights centres on a single question: How does the control of information conflict with the fundamental human right to that information? If, for reasons of state secrecy, national defence, public security, or the protection of industrial secrets, the public is denied access to information concerning the adverse effects of science and technology, it is conceivable that the rights to free expression, health, safety, and participation in democratic life could be threatened. National laws designed to ensure free access to information held by public institutions all contain exceptions. Among these exceptions - most of which are legitimate - are information related to defence, sensitive diplomatic negotiations, and public security, as well as information protected by industrial property laws and personal privacy laws. But these exceptions were meant to be just that - exceptions - and must not be abused. In particular, when human rights and any potential violation of these rights are at stake, institutional mechanisms by which information can be requested should be installed and maintained within any given system of information processing.
There is no question that human beings have the right to benefit from scientific and technological progress. And this right logically implies that in order to make responsible qualitative judgments on how this "benefit" should be defined, people have the right to information concerning scientific and technological developments. Again it is clear that the key principle involved in making decisions about human rights in a world of rapidly advancing science and technology is "the right to information." As scientific and technological developments continue to play an increasingly significant in more and more human lives, the right to have free access to accurate, truthful, and complete information concerning these developments should be self-evident. It is thus appropriate to elaborate an international instrument which will reinforce the right to information. The absence of information equals, eventually, the absence of real choice. And for democratic societies, nothing is more dangerous.
1 See, for example, Review of the Multi-lateral Treaty-making Process UN Soc. ST/LEG/ SER.B/21 (19X2); Philip Alston, "Conjuring Up New Human Rights: A Proposal for Quality Control," American Journal of International Law vol. 78 (1984): 6()7; Theodor Mern, "Reform of Lawmaking in the United Nations: The Human Rights Instance," American Journal of International Law vol. 79 (1985): 664.
2. The Human Rights Committee included in the general comments on Article 6 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that the "designing, testing, manufacture, possession, and deployment of nuclear weapons arc among the greatest threats to the right to life," and that "use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited and recognized as crimes against humanity.'' Report of the Human Rights Committee: General Assembly Official Records: Fortieth Session Supplement no. 40 (A/40/40), pp. 162-163
3. In comparison to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the Convenants do not include the right to property. But the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights protects the right to intellectual and industrial property (Article 15, 1(c)).
4. See. for example, Génétique procréation et droit Procerdings of the Colloquium organized by the Comité Consultatif National d'Ethique pour Ies Sciences de la Vie et de la Société (Actes Sud, Arles, 1985), which deals mainly with the effects of genetic engineering on human rights.
5. International Social Science Journal, vol. 24, no. 3 (1972).
6. Final Report for the 6th International Colloquium on the European Convention on Human Rights, Sevillia, 13-16 November 1986 (Council of Europe, H/Coll(85)17).
7. Thus, the draft code of conduct on the transfer of technology (TC/CODE TOT/47) does not refer to human rights, but only to the principle that "technology is key to the progress of mankind and all peoples have the right to benefit from the advances and developments in science and technology in order to improve their standards of living" (Preamble, pare. 2). It is addressed to parties including "any person, either natural or juridical, of public or private lay`, either individual or collective, such as corporations, companies, firms, partnerships and other associations, or any combination thereof, whether created, owned or controlled by states, government agencies, juridical persons, or individuals, wherever they operate, as well as states, government agencies and international, regional, and subregional organizations, when they engage in an international transfer of technology transaction which is usually considered to be of a commercial nature" (chap. 1: Definitions and Scope of Application, pare. 1.1(a)).
It is within this delimited, specialized field that the draft code delineates objectives and principles, among which: "facilitating and increasing the access to technology, particularly for developing countries, under mutually agreed fair and reasonable terms and conditions, are fundamental elements in the process of technology transfer and development" (chap. 11.2: Principles (vii)).
Evidently, the conflict of interests and the different positions of the states make the adoption of this text difficult. Still, the issues are not of a rhetorical nature, which makes it possible to explore the ways and means of strengthening the bargaining power of those who are in a weak negotiating position.
8. Summary Record of the 61st meeting (28 November 1986) of the Third Committee, United Nations, A/C.3141/SR.61 pf 5 December 1986
United Nations. Human Rights: A Compilation of International Instruments. 1988. (ST/HR/1/ Rev 3.)
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