Contents - Previous - Next


This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at http://unu.edu


6. The institutional responses


Notes
Bibliography


YO KUBOTA

INTRODUCTION

Universal awareness of the fact that scientific and technological developments do not occur in a vacuum but that they are inextricably linked to and affect human rights has never been more acute than in the latter half of the twentieth century. This consciousness has understandably been reflected in the work of the United Nations Human Rights organs.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was written in the atmosphere of the aftermath of the Second World War, when the full extent of the atrocities committed by the hand of or in the name of scientific development were made known and there was a strong impetus for the promotion and protection of human rights. More recently, the far-reaching advances in information technology, biotechnology, and arms technology, among others, and their impact on human rights have also been the subject of debate and study in the United Nations human rights fore.

It is precisely man's thirst for knowledge and understanding that has led not only to scientific and technological developments but also to the need to study the consequences of progress in these fields.

At its forty-second session in 1986, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution 1986/9, entitled "Use of Scientific and Technological Developments for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms"2 under agenda item 15, "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments. " The original draft of this resolution, contained in document E/CN.4/1986/L.59, was sponsored by Japan and Yugoslavia and introduced by Japan.

Introducing the draft resolution, the representative of Japan, Ambassador Tomohiko Kobayshi, stated that "the goal of the draft was to invite the United Nations University to study both the positive and the negative impact of scientific and technological developments on human rights."3 Ambassador Kobayshi had earlier taken the floor and expressed his views on the question in more detail, stating his country's intention to support a research project on the relationship between human rights and scientific and technological progress by the United Nations University:

Mr Kobayshi (Japan) said that, over the years, the United Nations had undertaken a number of useful studies which had helped to alert the international community to the negative impact of scientific and technological developments on human rights. It might, indeed, be desirable to make an overall review of the studies that had been carried out, in the light of recent advances, with a view to updating them and taking any further action that might be necessary.

Regarding the positive effects of a proper use of science and technology, the comments submitted by states in response to Commission resolutions 1983/41 and 1984/27 (E/CN.4/ 1986/27 and 28) showed how effective science and technology could be in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Of course, as many states had noted, the positive and negative effects of scientific and technological developments on human rights were intimately interrelated, and constituted, as it were, a double-edged sword. In considering the relationship between scientific and technological developments and human rights, it should not be forgotten that the former did not necessarily constitute a prerequisite for or a guarantee of the latter. There were many technologically advanced countries in which the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual were not fully realized.

A number of academic institutions were engaged in research on the relationship between scientific and technological progress and human rights. The United Nations University, for instance, was planning a preliminary study on the negative and positive impact of scientific and technological developments on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and his government intended to make a financial contribution to that project in the hope that other governments would do likewise.4

At the twenty-second meeting of the same session, the co-sponsor of the draft resolution, the representative of Yugoslavia, stated the following:

Mrs Djordjevic (Yugoslavia) recalled that science and technology had become a subject for consideration by the international community in the early 1970s and that the interrelationship between human rights and scientific and technological development had first received international recognition at the 1968 Tehran Conference. Since that time, the Commission had conducted many studies and adopted many resolutions on the issue.

However, the negative effects on human rights had always been emphasized, and an effort should, consequently, be made to review the many benefits which scientific and technological developments could have for the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. That concept underlay Commission resolutions 1983/41 and 1984/27, submitted jointly by the Yugoslav and Japanese delegations some years earlier. A broad approach should be adopted, as a part of wide-ranging efforts to place material development at the service of man.

Her delegation was grateful to all those Member States and international organizations which, in compliance with the above-mentioned resolutions, had submitted to the Secretary-General their views on the most effective ways and means of using the results of scientific and technical developments for the promotion of human rights. However, the relationship between science and technology and human rights was one that evolved constantly, and the Commission should follow up developments, with the assistance of the Sub-Commission and other organizations, including academic institutions. Her delegation therefore supported the research planned by the Nations University on the impact both positive and negative, of science and technology on human rights, and hoped that the study would further stimulate the deliberations on the issue at the Commission's forty-fourth session.5

In operative paragraph 3 of the adopted resolution, numbered 1986/9, the Commission on Human Rights invited the United Nations University, in cooperation with other interested academic and research institutions, to study both the positive and negative impacts of scientific and technological developments and expressed the hope that the United Nations University would inform the Commission on Human Rights of the results of its own study on the question.6

In response to the above invitation, the United Nations University has decided to undertake such a study.7 The general objective of the project is to develop a conceptual framework which will enable the discernment of both negative and positive impacts of scientific and technological developments on human rights and fundamental freedoms.8

The present article has been written in response to the United Nations University's invitation. The author of this article intends to consider the discussion to date within the United Nations human rights bodies, particularly in the Commission on Human Rights and its Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, of the critical issues surrounding the relationship between human rights and scientific and technological developments, and to offer possible directions for its future study.

INITIAL STEPS

The promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms have been affected both positively and adversely by scientific and technological developments. Explaining this point, one Member State (the Federal Republic of Germany) stated in its submission to the Commission, that: "Scientific and technological progress have laid highly important foundations for the realization of human rights. Nevertheless, the fact cannot be ignored that technological developments have and will no doubt continue to have consequences which affect respect for human rights."9

Equally, an author from the German Democratic Republic expressed his views on this matter in the following way:

Technological advancements have always been potential means in man's hand, and they have always served human requirements. And it is man who has to decide the ends to which science and technology shall be used. And as man is a social being, his steps taken in this regard reflect necessarily the advantages or inadequacies in the political, social, and intellectual organization of society 10

On reflection, therefore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first international human rights instrument, and the International Covenants on Human Rights, the first international human rights conventions of a general and universal character, as might be expected, all contain provisions relating to various aspects of the effect of scientific and technological developments. However, this question was not considered in detail until 1968, when it was the subject of debate at the International Conference on Human Rights in 1968.

In paragraph 18 of the Proclamation of Tehran, adopted by the Conference on 13 May 1968, the Conference expressed the view that "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." It later adopted the resolution on "human rights and scientific and technological developments. "

On the basis of the above-mentioned resolution, the General Assembly, in its resolution 2450 (XXIII) of 19 December 1968, invited the Secretary-General to undertake, with the assistance, Inter alia, of the Advisory Committee on the Application of Science and Technology to Development, and in co-operation with the executive heads of the competent specialized agencies, a study of the problems in connection with human rights arising from developments in science and technology, in particular from the following respects:

(a) Respect for the privacy of individuals and the integrity and sovereignty of nations in the light of advances in recording or other techniques.

(b) Protection of the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity in the light of advances in biology, medicine, and biochemistry.

(c) Uses of electronics which may affect the rights of the person and the limits which should be placed on such uses in a democratic society.

(d) More generally, the balance which should be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity.

The General Assembly, in resolution 2480 (XXIII), also requested the Secretary-General "to prepare, on a preliminary basis, a report comprising a summary account of studies already made or in progress on the aforementioned subjects, emanating in particular from governmental and intergovernmental sources, the specialized agencies and the competent non-governmental organizations, and a draft programme of work which might be undertaken in fields in which subsequent surveys would be necessary for the attainment of the objectives of the resolution. "

The preliminary version of the report, requested by the General Assembly, was available to the Commission on Human Rights at its twenty-sixth session in 1970 for consideration. However, the Commission did not have sufficient time to study the substance of the report in depth at the session.

The Commission consequently made a thorough examination of the question at its twenty-seventh session in 1971, and in its resolution 10 (XXVII), recognizing the need to study further, decided to make a series of requests addressed to different entities to initiate or continue studies on the relationship between science and technological developments and human rights.13 It was not until this resolution 10 (XXVII) of 18 March 1971 that the Commission recognized the need during the Second United Nations Development Decade to concentrate its attention on the most important and basic problems of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of scientific and technological progress, and in particular on:

(a) Protection of human rights in the economic, social, and cultural fields in accordance with the structure and resources of states and the scientific and technological level that they have reached, as well as protection of the right to work in conditions of the automation and mechanization of production.

(b) The use of scientific and technological developments to foster respect for human rights and the Iegitimate interests of other peoples and respect for generally recognized moral standards and standards of international law.

(c) Prevention of the use of scientific and technological achievements to restrict fundamental democratic rights and freedom.

AN OUTLINE OF DEVELOPMENTS, STUDIES, AND REPORTS, 1971-1987

Developments: The Declaration of the Use of Scientific and Technological
Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind

Attention must be directed to the Declaration of the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind, as it serves to demonstrate the direction of UN activities in the relationship between human rights and scientific and technological developments, in the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s.

At its twenty-ninth session, in 1974, the General Assembly considered briefly a draft declaration on the use of scientific and technological progress in the interests of peace and for the benefit of mankind, submitted by Bangladesh, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Mauritius, Poland, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.14 At its thirtieth session, in 1975, the Assembly considered a revised declaration. 15

In resolution 3384 (XXX) of 10 November 1975, the General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind. It took into account that, while scientific and technological developments provided ever-increasing opportunities to better the conditions of life of peoples and nations, in a number of instances they could give rise to social problems as well the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual, and proclaimed the following:

1. All states shall promote international co-operation to ensure that the results of scientific and technological developments are used in the interests of strengthening international peace and security, freedom and independence, and also for the purpose of the economic and social development of peoples and the realization of human rights and freedoms in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

2. All states shall take appropriate measures to prevent the use of scientific and technological developments, particularly by the state organs, to limit or interfere with the enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant international instruments.

3. All states shall take measures to ensure that scientific and technological achievements satisfy the material and spiritual needs of all sectors of the population.

4. All states shall refrain from any acts involving the use of scientific and technological achievements for the purpose of violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states, interfering in their international affairs, waging aggressive wars, suppressing national liberation movements or pursuing a policy of racial discrimination. Such acts are a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of the principles that should guide scientific and technological developments for the benefit of mankind.

5. All states shall co-operate in the establishment, strengthening, and development of 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.

6. All states shall take measures to extend the benefits of science and technology to all strata of the population and to protect them, both socially and materially, from possible harmful effects of the misuse of scientific and technological developments, including their misuse to infringe upon the rights of the individual or of the group, particularly with regard to respect for privacy and the protection of the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity.

7. All states shall take the necessary measures, including legislative measures, to ensure that the utilization of scientific and technological achievements promotes the fullest realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination whatsoever on grounds of race, sex, language, or religious beliefs.

8. All states shall take effective measures, including legislative measures, to prevent and preclude the utilization of scientific and technological achievements to the detriment of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the dignity of the human person.

9. All states shall, whenever necessary, take action to ensure compliance with legislation guaranteeing human rights and freedoms in the context of scientific and technological developments.

Following the adoption of the Declaration in 1975, the General Assembly, in resolution 31/128 of 16 December 1976, expressed its concern at the fact that scientific and technological achievements might be used to the detriment of fundamental human rights and fundamental freedoms, the dignity of the human person, international peace and security and social progress, and called upon Member States to take account of the provisions and principles contained in the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind. The Assembly requested the specialized agencies concerned to take the provisions of the Declaration fully into account in their programme and activities, and requested the Commission on Human Rights, in its consideration of the question of scientific and technological progress and human rights, to give special attention to the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration.

The implementation activities of the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind were also undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights at the request of the Assembly.

Five years after the adoption of the Declaration of 10 November 1975, in 1980, the General Assembly adopted resolution 35/130A, concerning the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration. In accordance with requests in the resolution made by the Assembly, the Secretary-General prepared reports on a variety of relevant issues, including problems for human rights caused by advances in biology, medicine and biochemistry, and those relating to human experimentation and to genetic manipulation. Studies relating to national and international machinery on technological assessments, needed to ensure that the short-term and long-term effects of new developments are not detrimental to human rights, had also been undertaken. Studies on these aspects were also prepared by the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

At its thirty-seventh session in 1982, the General Assembly, in its resolution 37/189A, inter alia expressed its firm conviction that all peoples and all individuals have an inherent right to life, and that the safeguarding of this foremost right is an essential condition for the enjoyment of the entire range of economic, social, and cultural, as well as civil and political rights; stressed the urgent need for all possible efforts by the international community to strengthen peace, remove the threat of war, particularly nuclear war, halt the arms race, and achieve general and complete disarmament under effective international control, and prevent violations of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and self-determination of peoples.

At the same session, in its resolution 37/189B, the General Assembly, inter alia, invited those Member States, specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system that have not yet done so to submit their information in accordance with General Assembly resolution 35/130 A of 11 December 1980, and requested the Commission on Human Rights to give special attention, in its consideration of the item entitled "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments," to the question of the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration.

Document A/38/195, prepared in pursuance of that resolution, contains a report of the Secretary-General based on information received from Member States regarding the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration.

In 1983 and 1984, similar documents (A/39/422 and A/40/493 and Add 1 and 2) were prepared by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly pursuant to resolutions 38/112 and 39/133 respectively.

At its fortieth session, in 1984, in its resolution 1984/27, the Commission on Human Rights invited all Member States and relevant international organizations that had not yet done so to submit to the Secretary-General their views on the most effective ways and means of using the results of scientific and technological developments for the promotion and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and further requested the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to consider areas in which studies could be undertaken on the most effective ways and means of using the results of scientific and technological development for the promotion and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Commission, in its resolution 1984/28, adopted at the same session, inter alia appealed to all states, appropriate organs of the United Nations, specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations concerned to take the necessary measures to ensure that the results of scientific and technological progress are used exclusively in the interests of international peace, for the benefit of mankind and for promoting and encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Pursuant to its decision 1983/108, by which the Commission on Human Rights decided to consider the item "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments" on a biennial basis, the Commission did not consider that item at its forty-first session, in 1985.

At its forty-second session, after consideration of the question of scientific and technological developments and human rights, the Commission, having expressed its conviction that implementation of the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind by all States would contribute to the strengthening of international peace and security, the economic and social development of peoples, and international co-operation in the field of human rights, stressed the importance, for the promotion of the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms under conditions of scientific and technological progress, of the implementation by all states of the provisions and principles contained in the Declaration.

The Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1986/10 entitled "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments," also reaffirmed that all peoples and all individuals have an inherent right to life and that the safeguarding of this cardinal right is an essential condition for the enjoyment of the entire range of economic, social, and cultural, as well as civil and political rights and requested the Secretary-General, in the light of the comments and views of Member States, to submit the report on the implementation of this resolution to the Commission at its forty-fourth session in 1988.

Outline of Studies and Reports

During the period between 1971 and 1976, a number of valuable reports on various aspects of human rights and technological developments were prepared by the Secretary-General and the specialized agencies concerned. The major reports of this period were the following:

1. The report on respect for the privacy of individuals and the integrity and sovereignty of nations in the light of advances in recording and other techniques (E/CN.4/1116 and Add 1-3 and Add 3/Corr 1 and Add 4). This report deals with beneficial uses of new devices and methods of auditory and visual surveillance, personality assessment techniques ("personality tests"), polygraphs ("lie detectors"), narco-analysis, certain blood, breath, and other bodily tests for non-medical purposes, and communication and observation satellites.

2. The report on uses of electronics which may affect the rights of the person and the limits which should be placed on such uses in a democratic society (E/ CN.4/1142 and Add 1 and 2). It deals with beneficial uses of computerized data systems, benefits derived from computers in various areas of their use, beneficial applications of electronic automation from the point of view of human rights, and benefits derived from electronic communications techniques in various fields of their application.

3. The report on protection of the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity, in the light of advances in biology, medicine, and biochemistry (E/CN.4/1172 and Corr 1 and Add 1-3). This report deals with the beneficial use of artificial insemination, psychotropic drugs, procedures of pre-natal diagnosis, and chemicals introduced into food production, processing, packaging, and storage.

4. Reports on the impact of scientific and technological developments on economic, social, and cultural rights, which deal with the use in the modern world of scientific and technological progress to increase the availability and improve the quality of food and clothing. These reports also contain information concerning the realization of the rights to food, clothing, just and favourable remuneration, equal pay for equal work, housing, rest and leisure, and social security under conditions of scientific and technological progress (E/CN.4/ 1084, E/CN.4/1115, E/CN.4/1141 and E/CN.4/1198).

5. The report on protection of broad sectors of the population against social and material inequalities, as well as other harmful effects which may arise from the rise of scientific and technological developments (A/10146). This report deals with the harmful effects of automation and mechanization of production, deterioration of the human environment, the population explosion, and the hazards arising from the increasingly destructive power of modern weapons and from atomic radiation.

6. The report on the balance which should be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity (E/CN.4/1199 and Add 1). This report deals with the effects of scientific and technological progress upon the enjoyment of particular human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those set out in the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 11(1), 12, 16(1), 17(1), 18, 19, 20(1), 21, 23, 24, 25, 26(1), 26(2), and 27. The report outlines possible international action to assess new technologies, give warning of the possible dangers to human rights which they may present, and possibly even control new developments if threats to human rights seem likely.

7. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's report on the impact of scientific and technological developments on economic, social, and cultural rights, pursuant to Commission resolution 10 (XXVII) of 18 March 1971. It should be noted with interest that the report, E/CN.4/1114, contains chapters not only on the right to culture but also the rights to education and to information. This report is supplemented by document E/CN.4/ 1196 of 19 November 1975, which contains important considerations on the right to freedom of expression and the campaign against propaganda for war or for national, racial, or religious hatred.

The Commission on Human Rights, at its thirty-third session in 1977, considered a number of reports on various aspects of human rights and scientific and technological developments which it had been unable to examine at earlier sessions, including the report on the protection of the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity in the light of advances in biology, medicine, and biochemistry16, the report on the balance which would be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity,17 a report by Unesco dealing with the impact of scientific and technological developments on the rights laid down in Article 26, paragraphs I and 2, and Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning the right to education, the right to culture, and author's rights,18 a report on developments relating to science and technology elsewhere in the United Nations system of interest to the Commission,19 a report on national technological assessment machinery,20 and a report on the human rights implications of the genetic manipulation of microbes.21

On 11 March 1977, the Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 10B (XXXIII), responding to General Assembly resolution 31/128 of 16 December 1976, spoke of the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind as a guide for its future work and re-emphasized the Assembly's concern that Member States should take account of the provisions and principles contained in the Declaration. The Commission's resolution, continuing in this vein, emphasized that Member States should take account of the provisions and principles contained in the Declaration, in particular those relating to the transfer of technology and scientific knowledge to developing countries, which would accelerate the realization of the economic and social rights of the people of those countries. It instructed the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities to examine, in the light of the provisions of the Declaration, studies relating to this subject, and to submit its observations thereon to the Commission.

Also on 11 March 1977, the Commission on Human Rights in resolution 10A (XXIII) requested the Sub-Commission to study, with a view to formulating guidelines, if possible, the question of the protection of those detained on the grounds of mental ill-health against treatment that might adversely affect the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity. However, it was not until 1980 that the Sub-Commission appointed a Special Rapporteur to prepare a study on the protection of persons detained on the grounds of mental ill-health.

The Protection of Persons Detained on the Grounds of Mental Ill-Health

The Sub-Commission, at its thirty-third session in 1980, appointed two Special Rapporteurs; one, in resolution 11 (XXXIII) of 10 September 1980, to prepare guidelines relating to procedures for determining whether adequate grounds existed for detaining persons on the grounds of mental ill-health and principles for the protection of persons suffering from mental disorder, and another, in resolution 12 (XXXIII) of 11 September 1980, to undertake a study of guidelines relating to the use of computerized personal files.22

The first Special Rapporteur, Mrs Erica-lrene Daes, submitted a preliminary report to the Sub-Commission in 1981 23 and a final report, as requested by the Sub-Commission, in 1982. 24 Having considered the final report of Mrs Daes and having examined the report of the sessional working group on the question of persons detained on the grounds of mental ill-health,25 the Sub-Commission, by its resolution 1982/34 of 10 September 1982, requested the Commission to recommend to the Economic and Social Council that the Special Rapporteur supplement her final report with an account of the views expressed in the Sub Commission and any new reply which might be transmitted in the meantime, and also to establish a sessional working group for a proper examination of the body of principles, guidelines, and guarantees and to submit the revised final report to the Commission at its fortieth session.26 The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Commission on Human Rights subsequently agreed to the above request.

In 1983, at the thirty-sixth session of the Sub-Commission, resolution 1983/39 was adopted which recommended that Mrs Daes' report should be published and given widest possible distribution. The sessional working group continued with its work on the question at the request of the General Assembly, the Commission, and the Economic and Social Council.

In 1984, the Sub-Commission, continuing its first reading of the draft body of principles, decided to consider it further in 1985. In order to expedite consideration of the draft body at the request of the General Assembly, in 1985, the Sub-Commission again established a sessional working group. In fact, the working group approved, at its second preliminary reading, the first seven articles of the draft body of principles, which contained 47 articles. The report of the group was approved, by the Sub-Commission, without a vote. However, no decision was taken on the draft resolution on the question E/CN.4/Sub.2/1985/L.10. 27

Unfortunately there was no Sub-Commission session in 1986 due to the unforeseeable financial crises of the United Nations. Therefore, no progress was made on the question. In the same year, the General Assembly, in its resolution 41/114, again urged the Sub-Commission to expedite their consideration of the draft body.

In 1987, the working group continued, at its second preliminary reading of the draft body of principles, consideration of articles 8, 9 and 10. 28

The General Assembly by resolution 42/38 of December 1987 urged expected consideration of the draft body of guidelines, principles and guarantees, in order that the Commission could submit them with its views and recommendations to the Assembly through the Economic and Social Council, it being suggested that such Commission views and recommendations on the draft should be before the Assembly at its forty-fourth session in 1989. Subsequently, the Commission at its forty-fourth session adopted resolution 1988/62, in which it endorsed the recommendation of the Sub-Commission, in its resolution 1987/22, that the Sub-Commission be requested (a) to attach much greater emphasis at its fortieth session to the Working Group and its drafting assignments; (b) to complete the work on the draft body of guidelines, principles, and guarantees as a matter of urgency at its fortieth session; and (c) to take account of the paper presented by the World Health Organization (E/CN.4/1988/66) and to submit it to the Working Group for consideration.

During the years 1987 and 1988, the World Health Organization and interested non-governmental organizations had met informally to consider the draft body of principles and facilitate agreement between those concerned. In document E/ CN. 411988/66, the World Health Organization proposed that the draft should be in two parts. Part I would include fundamental principles and part 11 would be detailed guidelines for the implementation of those principles.

In 1988, Professor Claire Palley, the new British independent member, was appointed to chair the Working Croup on the Mentally Ill. The other four members of the Group were also new, having just been eIected to the Sub-Commission, and therefore to the Group.

Professor Palley from the outset was determined that no efforts should be spared in trying to complete the draft in 1988. She was aware that the four hours alloted to the Working Group during the session of the Sub-Commission would be inadequate for this task. She thus requested that the Group should hold a number of informal consultations. Some 13 hours were spent in meetings in which interested non-governmental organizations and delegates were given the opportunity to make suggestions and comments. During the 1988 session of the Sub-Commission, the Working Group completed consideration of the articles of the draft body of principles, and approved the texts as "Draft Body of Principles and Guarantees for the Protection of Mentally III Persons and for the Improvement of Mental Health Care," contained in document E/CH.4/Sub.2/1988/23.. The Working Group called this exercise the second preliminary of the draft body

The Sub-Commission subsequently considered the report of the Group which contained the text of the draft body (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1988/23), adopted the draft body, and decided to forward it to the Commission on Human Rights for adoption. The rapid conclusion by the Sub-Commission of this draft was due to the enormous amount of time that Professor Palley devoted to the task, and the new Soviet Expert, Professor Chernichenko, also greatly facilitated completion of the draft.

The Commission on Human Rights, by resolution 1983/40 of 6 March 1989, decided to establish an open-ended working group to examine, revise, and simplify as necessary the draft body of principles and guarantees, and invited comments, for consideration by the working group, from governments and specialized agencies (in particular the World Health Organization and non-governmental organizations) on the draft body of principles and guarantees submitted by the Sub-Commission; it requested the Secretary-General to circulate these comments to governments prior to the session of the working group.

If the Commission and its open-ended working group, after examination of the draft body with comments submitted to it, consider it appropriate to forward it immediately to the General Assembly for final adoption, we might possibly have a new international human rights instrument on the human rights of persons who are mentally ill.

The draft body of principles and guarantees made it clear that all persons with a mental illness shall, in particular, have the right to protection from exploitation, abuse, and degrading treatment. The non-discrimination principle was also confirmed. It was also provided that every mentally ill patient shall have the right, inter alia to receive visitors in private, in particular his lawyer or representative, regularly and at all reasonable times; to send and receive unread and uncensored any private and public communications; and to privacy. It was also significant that a diagnosis of mental illness shall be in accordance with internationally accepted medical standards.

A Study of Guidelines Relating to the Use of Computerized Personal Files

In its resolution 10B (XXXIII) adopted on 11 March 1977, the Commission on Human Rights instructed the Sub-Commission to examine, in the light of the provisions of the Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace and for the Benefit of Mankind, studies relating to the implementation of their provisions. As previously mentioned, the Sub-Commission, accordingly, by its resolution 12 (XXXIII) of 11 September 1980, requested its Chairman to designate a member of the Sub-Commission to undertake a study on relevant guidelines in the field of computerized personal files. The Chairman of the Sub-Commission designated Mrs Questiaux for this study.

At the thirty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission in 1981 on behalf of the Special Rapporteur, Mrs Questiaux, her alternate, Mr Louis Joinet, made a statement on the progress report.29 He stated that the study was not designed to analyse the problem in all its aspects but rather, with due regard for the many studies that had already been made, to examine guidelines which might be taken into account in that field.30

At its thirty-fifth session in 1982, this matter was not discussed by the Sub-Commission.

At the thirty-sixth session of the Sub-Commission, the final report was prepared and submitted by Mr Louis Joinet on the relevant guidelines in the field of computerized personal files.31 At the same session, after approving, in its decision 1983/8, the conclusions and recommendations of the final report on relevant guidelines in the field of computerized personal files presented by Mr Louis Joinet (E/CN.4.Sub.2/1983118) pursuant to its resolution 12 (XXXIII) of 11 September 1980, the Sub-Commission decided, in accordance with the wish expressed by the Commission on Human Rights in its resolution 10B (XXXIII), to submit Mr Joinet's report to the Commission at its fortieth session for whatever action it deemed appropriate.

At its thirty-seventh session in 1984, the Sub-Commission endorsed the conclusion of the study of the relevant guidelines in the field of computerized personal files prepared by Mr Joinet and requested the Secretary-General to transmit to Member States and all relevant international organizations the provisional guidelines in the field of computerized personal files, inviting them to transmit their views thereon.32

At its thirty-eighth session in 1985, the Sub-Commission had before it a revised report by Mr Joinet.33 Holding the view that, for the purpose of effectiveness, governments should be consulted more widely on the revised draft guidelines, the Sub-Commission requested the Secretary-General to continue to obtain the comments and suggestions of governments on the revised guidelines and to render the Special Rapporteur all the assistance he needed in submitting the final report on guidelines to the Sub-Commission at its fortieth session.34

By successive notes verbales of 18 November 1985 and 29 April 1987, the Secretary-General accordingly requested the governments to submit comments and suggestions.

At its fortieth session in 1988, the Sub-Commission considered the final report submitted by the Special Rapporteur (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1988/22). The purpose of the report was (1) to identify the main trends emerging from comments made by the members of the Sub-Commission during the discussion of the interim report (E/CN.41Sub.2/1985/21), as well as from the analysis of the answers received; and (2) to submit, for the approval of the Sub-Commission, the revised final draft guidelines with a view to their transmission to the Commission on Human Rights. The Special Rapporteur noted that the list of answers received showed the increasing interest of United Nations organs and specialized agencies in the draft guidelines, due, it would seem, to the number of personal files they were keeping.

The Sub-Commission, by resolution 1988/29, welcomed the recommendations contained in the report, in particular the draft guidelines applicable to computerized personal data files, and decided to forward them to the General Assembly through the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council. The draft guidelines contain provisions concerning the principle of lawfulness and fairness, the principle of accuracy, the principle of nondiscrimination, supervision and penalties, etc. The Special Rapporteur in his report recognized "a consensus [emerging] from the comments received on the desirability of encouraging the formulation of guidelines in this area, both for member states wishing to adopt domestic legislation and for international, organizations and agencies in respect of the status of their own personal files."

In 1989, the Commission, by resolution 1989/43, forwarded the report to the Economic and Social Council.

Further Studies

Pursuant to Commission resolution 1984/27, the Sub-Commission, at its thirty-seventh session, considered areas in which further study would be desirable and adopted resolutions 1984/17 and 1984/18. By these resolutions, the Sub-Commission recommended, through the Commission, to the Economic and Social Council, to entrust the Sub-Commission to undertake a study on the current dimensions and problems arising from unlawful human experimentation and a study on the implications for human rights of recent advances in computer and microcomputer technology.

The Commission on Human Rights, at its forty-first session, determined by its decision 1985/104 to request the Sub-Commission to reconsider the studies mentioned, with a view to integrating them in the work already being undertaken in the Commission and the Sub-Commission under the agenda item "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments."

By its resolution 1984/29, the Commission reiterated its request to the Sub-Commission to undertake as a matter of priority a study on the use of the achievements of scientific and technological progress to ensure the right to work and development.35

Another study, which the Commission requested the Sub-Commission to carry out by its resolution 1982/27 of 19 February 1982, concerns the negative consequences of the arms race for the implementation of economic, social, and cultural, as well as civil and political rights, the establishment of the new international economic order, and, above all, the inherent right to life.

At its thirty-eighth session in 1985, the Sub-Commission adopted resolution 1985/7 concerning hazardous processes, products, and technologies. By this resolution, the Sub-Commission, bearing in mind that the of scientific and technological development on human rights have both beneficial and harmful aspects, and therefore must be examined in their totality, and recognizing that inadequate information and the absence of uniform protection and safety measures with regard to the potential dangers of the application of hazardous technologies result in a grave threat to the right to health and to life, requested, inter alia, all transnational corporations and enterprises to disclose all the information at their disposal regarding the hazards to human lives of their processes, products, and technologies to governments, employees, consumers, and the general public.36

The General Assembly, by resolution 42/183 of 11 December 1987, requested the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report on the question of illegal traffic in toxic and dangerous products and wastes for submission to the General Assembly at its forty-forth session in 1989 and to have a preliminary report on the question submitted to the Economic and Social Council at its second regular session of 1988. The report was submitted to the Council as document E/1988/ 72. In 1988 the Sub-Commission noted that the report drew attention to the increased traffic in toxic and dangerous products and wastes, especially from the developed countries to the developing countries, and recommended that the Commission adopt a resolution (1989/42) on the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes. The Commission subsequently endorsed this recommendation.

OBSERVATIONS ON PAST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE FIELD AND DIRECTIONS FOR THE FUTURE

Positive and Negative Aspects

We have seen that a great many efforts have been made, including the preparation of a series of studies by various United Nations human rights bodies, to examine both the positive and negative aspects of scientific and technological developments on human rights and to identify the main issues in this field.

Before proceeding further, it might be appropriate to introduce the summary of conclusions drawn from the studies prepared by the Secretary-General between 1973 and 1976, which appear in "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments" of 1982.37

The main conclusions that can be drawn from the many aspects of the question of human rights and scientific and technological developments that have been discussed in these chapters are the following:

1. Science being itself a part of culture, the essential problem facing mankind in relation to scientific and technological progress, on the one hand, and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity, on the other, is to decide on the appropriate two-way relationship which should exist between them. This relationship is not the same for all times or all places.

2. An investigation of this relationship includes an examination of the impact, both beneficial and harmful' of recent scientific and technological developments upon the rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such impact affects many such rights, either individually or in combination.

3. The application of policies and measures appropriate to the circumstances is an aspect of achieving the correct relationship between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity.

4. Educational policies should aim at a better understanding of science on the part of the general public and a better understanding of the humanities and the needs of society on the part of scientists.

5. Many and varied measures have been taken on the national level for the protection of human rights against threats posed by recent scientific and technological developments. Nevertheless, there is a growing conviction that there is need for continuing technology assessment on the national level in order to assess possible side-effects and longrange effects of new innovations and to establish whether their advantages outweigh the discernible disadvantages, and for control over innovations with harmful potentialities.

6. The positive uses of modern science and technology for the promotion of human rights are potentially vast, but their exploitation depends upon the laying down of appropriate science policies on the national level and the creation of machinery to carry out those policies Such machinery need not be separate from that set up for technology assessment as envisaged in paragraph 5 above.

7. On the international Ievel, in addition to the possibility of setting international standards relating to specific aspects of human rights and scientific and technological developments, there have been proposals for a general Declaration on Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments. There are many existing texts which could be taken into account in drafting such a Declaration.

8. There have also been a number of proposals for technology assessment on the international Ievel. The reasons given for the establishment of machinery for such assessment have been essentially the same as those given in relation to assessment on the national level, except that greater stress has been placed on problems of an international nature, including the prevention of threats to human rights on an international scale and the use of science and technology for the benefit of mankind.

In considering the relationship between scientific and technological developments and human rights, it should not be forgotten that the former does not necessarily constitute a prerequisite for a guarantee of the latter.38 On this point, the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany submits that "Scientific and technological progress is neither of intrinsic value nor to be evaluated externally, but is to be judged according to the contributions it is able to make for the well being and dignity of the individual, for freedom and the peaceful community of nations. "39

In other words, science and technology have no limits and they will continue to develop in the future with or without our full-hearted support, and these scientific and technological processes are going to have their effect on human rights.

The main question is how to utilize scientific and technological developments wisely and properly for the benefit of human rights.

In the recent discussion on scientific and technological developments and human rights, it has been pointed out by a number of speakers and observers that the United Nations bodies have mainly been studying the negative nature of any developments and not fully examining their positive aspects 40 This observation is quite correct as far as the topics of previous studies and resolutions adopted are concerned However, this observation needs further clarification and explanation

It is true that the examination, discussion, studies, and research carried out by United Nations human rights bodies should not simply be restricted to analysing the problems; efforts should also be made to seek effective guidelines to secure and safeguard the beneficial usage of scientific and technological developments for the promotion and protection of human rights. However, inevitably in this field, the United Nations had to start examining the issues by identifying the problems at the beginning rather than making efforts to seek guidelines or policy recommendations immediately.

In this connection we should note with interest the statement made by Mr Louis Joinet, when he introduced the progress report on relevant guidelines in the field of computerized personal files, particularly as they affect the privacy of the individual, at the thirty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission.

The study was not designed to analyse the problem in all its aspects, but to examine guidelines which might be taken into account in an international instrument, with due regard for the many studies that had already been made, particularly the Report of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments (E/CN.4/1142), which was still relevant and very topical.41

The author's interpretation of this statement is that the report by the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments42 had already dealt with, inter alia, beneficial uses of computerized data systems and benefits derived from computers in various areas of their use, and had basically analysed the phenomenon, and the report presented to the Sub-Commission by Mr Joinet was to focus on how to secure benefits from scientific and technological developments.

Therefore, it is clearly of extreme importance that scientific and technological activities should be guided in such a direction that maximum advantage and minimum disadvantage would result for the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In their examination of the relationship between Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments, the General Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission have adopted innumerable resolutions and have prepared a considerable number of studies. It is generally submitted that, so far, most of them fall into the following three categories:

1. Peace, security and disarmament.

2. Transfer of science and technology for effective development of the developing world.

3. So-called "negative aspects of scientific and technological developments," including "computerized personal files and privacy" and "human rights of the mentally ill."

Whilst the author of the present article recognizes the importance of the work undertaken to date, he would also like to emphasize the need for guidelines and rules of conduct or policy recommendations in scientific and technological activities. Or, more precisely, he considers it important that the effective implementation of the existing human rights standards and international law should be recognized in scientific and technological activities and policy-making.

Science and Technology and Human Rights Standards

There is little doubt that scientific and technological developments are the products of scientific and technological activities by human beings. If this is so, it is self-explanatory that those activities should he guided by the existing universally recognized human rights standards and framework of international law.

Ziman, Sieghard, and Humphrey, in their book entitled The World of Science and the Rule of Law,43 touch upon this point, stating that:

Science is not a disembodied activity, it is a human enterprise, conducted by human beings interacting in a complex social network with each other, and with the societies in which they work. And whatever may have been the case about human rights in the past, today they have acquired a sharply defined and objective framework in which can be set the performance of many human enterprises, including the pursuit of science.

Discussion of the need for guidelines has also been touched upon by the group of experts on the question of "the balance which should be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural and moral advancement of humanity. "44 The following quotation is from the conclusions and recommendations section of their report:

3. A thorough revision of education at all levels is required to bring about a sufficient harmony of science and technology with other human activities. Science and technology must be taught in the context of the ascent of Man, not primarily as potential contributors to the disruption of society or the depersonalization of individual lives. A proper understanding of science and its impact on society is essential for dealing adequately with the evolving problems of civilization.

4. Not every change or development that science and technology make feasible needs to become an actuality. Governments and societies must determine by appropriate mechanisms for technological assessment - including the assessment of possible side-effects and long-range effects - whether the time is right for particular innovations and whether their advantages outweigh for the society the discernible disadvantages. International machinery should be entrusted with such a technological assessment for man kind as a whole. It is a basic human right to have a voice in such decisions. Decisions in such matters must be made on the basis of the considered opinion of bodies of experts and laymen who represent the interests of all the people as well as of future generations.

5. With these ideas in mind, and taking into account the necessity for keeping under constant review the promotion and protection of human rights in the light of rapid scientific and technological developments, the Group recommends that consideration be given to the possibility of drafting a declaration on human rights and scientific and technological developments.

6. It is recommended that a better definition be given of the duties of the individual to the community and of the right of future generations. For example, it seems to us that the crisis in growth of the world's population must lead to some constraint on the individual right to reproduce, and that the right of the child to be born physically and mentally sound takes precedence over the rights of parents to reproduce.

Concerning this idea of drafting a declaration on human rights and scientific and technological developments, the Federal Republic of Germany states the following:45

Concerning the proposal for a declaration on "human rights and scientific and technological developments," the human rights contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should first be examined to see whether these do not constitute sufficient guidelines on scientific and technological progress. The field of human rights is characterized more by a lack of implementation than by a lack of legal norms. What is important basically is to improve the instruments for implementation and thereby provide greater protection for human rights.

In this connection, it must be ensured that the institution of "human rights" will not, by the inclusion of global dangers for humanity, be expanded to a point of endangering what has already been attained in the field of human rights protection.

With regard to the creation of a new international institution to deal with questions as to what extent negative influences on human rights protection should be tolerated in order to enjoy the benefits of scientific and technological progress we would refer to existing United Nations bodies (the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Committee). The strengthening and optimal efficiency of these bodies must be the aim of the human rights discussion and activities.

Another recommendation of the group of experts is to arrive at an improved definition of the duties of the individual towards society and the rights of future generations exceeds the scope of human rights.

Whether one agrees or not on the drafting of a new declaration in this field and, if so, on the content of any new declaration, it is quite clear that international standards or guidelines should be borne in mind in this field.

It is evident that not only science and technology but also human rights have a universal transnational character, as it is now true that a more or less complete international code of human rights law exists composed of closely defined rights, freedoms, and duties, agreed upon by the international community of nations, which is independent of any particular place, culture, tradition, or economic or political system, and which has been accepted as an international standard of reference for the exercise of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural activities throughout the world.46

It should be recognized that almost all the rights and freedoms of individuals and responsibilities of organs of society and states necessary for the free and effective pursuit and activities of science and technology are in fact already covered by the existing international code of human rights law. This code actually covers, in principle, all men and women, including scientists, beneficiaries, and users of science and technology. Consequently, if the code could be fully implemented, positive aspects of science and technological developments would be more effectively safeguarded and promoted.

In conclusion, if we want to utilize science and technology for the benefit of mankind (in other words, "human rights"), we have to respect and observe human rights standards at the same time.

In this context, the representative of Yugoslavia made an interesting intervention:47

The idea of using the results of scientific and technological developments for the promotion of human rights is part of the broader efforts to place material development in the service of man. In this, emphasis should be placed on the promotion of human dignity, man's position in the society and the elimination of his dependence and alienation, together with the improvement of his general living conditions.

The link between scientific and technological developments and human rights, in particular those which have been unequivocally recognized at the international level, to whose observance numerous states have subscribed, can be examined proceeding, first of all, from the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The right to education (Article 13) and the right to take part in cultural life (Article 15) are in particular closely linked to the progress in science and technology. Article 15, paragraph 1, recognizes the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress. Paragraph 2 of the same article stipulates that steps to be taken by States Parties to the Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for the conservation, the development and the diffusion of science and culture. Paragraph 4 emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in the scientific and cultural fields for the realization of these rights.

However, it would be erroneous to concentrate in the current review only on economic, social, and cultural rights. Civil and political rights arc not, as it is often claimed, only endangered by scientific and technological progress but they frequently to a large extent depend on them. Certain rights stipulated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights can well illustrate this notion.

The realization of the right to freedom of expression (Article 19), including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas cannot be imagined today without a developed system of mass media communication and without ensuring to a large number of individuals and groups access to these media.

Development of science and technology, coupled with an adequate social policy, can play a significant role in the ensuring of material conditions for genuine enjoyment of the formally proclaimed and adopted and political rights. Science and technology should also be used in the improvement of the organization and operation of institutions for the protection of these rights, by making them more easily accessible to larger portions of the poorer populations.

Modern Science and Technology and Freedom of Information

The development of science and technology is opening up new horizons of knowledge and is making possible the acquisition of previously undreamed-of vast sources of energy, the conquest of outer space and the exploitation of the depths and sources of the seven seas. The scientific and technological revolution underway offers mankind powerful means for solving global problems, eliminating hunger, disease, poverty and illiteracy, overcoming economic backvardness.48

Indeed, the development of science and technology in the modern world is remarkably fast and constant. On an everyday basis, new inventions and discoveries are made in every corner of the world.

Modern science and technology is, however, so sophisticated and c complex that only people who have already studied the subject, and not the layman, are likely to understand the complicated implications of specific scientific or technological developments. The whole process of science and technology is most of the time no longer just a matter of doing simple experiments with a test tube and bunsen burner. The process by which new scientific and technological ideas are generated and tested might take many years, and test results might also be interpreted differently. In these circumstances, it is very difficult to know or to foretell what would lead to positive results and what to negative results, nor what sort of developments would be regarded as unlawful or unjustifiable.

In addition to these difficulties, more impediments exist in modern society of concern to individuals controlling the direction of scientific and technological developments. Now, many of the major scientific and technological activities are carried out by state-related agencies or big commercial industries in secrecy for national or industrial security reasons. All over the world, scientists are most of the time dependent on their governments or big industries. And, of course, this dependence can expose scientists to some explicit or implicit pressures not to disclose information.49

One writes elaborates this point with regard to hazardous exports.50 She says that "if the end-user, whether called consumer or simply a human being, has not been alerted to the hazards which imported goods, foreign in the strict sense of the word, carry with them, there is no manner in which he/she can defend him/ herself. The person becomes a defenceless victim, defenceless because of being kept ignorant of the danger imminent in the goods given, or bought..."

There is a need for everyone to defend himself or herself against the negative effects of science and technology; to do so one needs access to information on the potential dangers of specific scientific and technological developments, be it pesticide or baby food, nuclear power plants or pharmaceuticals, as negative effects are experienced in different parts of the world.

Therefore, it is freedom of information that is at the heart of the protection and promotion of all other human rights. The European Commission on Human Rights has asserted the principle of free flow of information to the public in general.

It is only after obtaining the correct information on a specific question that people can act with some degree of confidence, perhaps participating in a decision-making process or appealing before different legal, quasi-legal, administrative, or legislative bodies. These Iegal and procedural aspects are largely covered by civil and political rights. Indeed, these civil and political aspects are important for the effective realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. This "interdependent nature of economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights" is quite obvious in this context.

Concerning the freedom of information and free flow of information for the beneficial use of scientific and technological developments, it is interesting to note the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization51 and the International Social Science Council, a non-governmental organization,52 in this field.53

In March 1985, the International Social Science Council held an international symposium at Barcelona to consider the challenges to human rights posed by scientific and technological progress. Scholars in the field of anthropology, biochemistry, biology, brain research, clinical, experimental and physiological psychology, genetics, law, mental health, neuroscience, pharmacology, and psychiatry attended the symposium and contributed papers on a variety of scientific subjects, with particular reference to their impact on human rights. Special attention was paid to the human rights set forth in Articles 5 (the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment), 26 (the right to education), and 27 (the right to enjoy cultural life) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; in Articles 12(1) (the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health), 13(1) (the right to education) and 15(1) (the rights to take part in cultural life, to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, and to benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary, or artistic production) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and in Article 7 (the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The participants at the symposium agreed that it was important that Unesco should educate the general public not only regarding the application of scientific discoveries for the benefit of human rights, but also on the potential danger to human rights of withholding or abuse of scientific discoveries. It was recognized that that would only be possible if the general public had a sound basic education in the behavioural and social sciences, which would allow it to appreciate the benefits of science.

Consequently, it was decided to create a network of scientists concerned with human rights issues, who would exchange information on ways of promoting human rights in their research activities.

The symposium made five priority recommendations to Unesco, that it should:

1. Seek the broadest possible worldwide applications of tested scientific advances and promote scientific contributions to human rights.

2. Encourage scientists to become aware of human rights issues.

3. Pay special attention to the impact of new technologies on the human rights of women, particularly with respect to the productive processes.

4. Give special priority to the human rights of patients, a particularly vulnerable group.

5. Develop standards for the use of neuropathetic drugs.

It further recommended that experts in neuroscience and the behavioural disciplines should be consulted when determining policies and administering programmes in education and health.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, must be counted as one of the great achievements of the United Nations. The Declaration and the Covenants and more than 50 other conventions that grew out of it provided the world, for the first time, with an international code of human rights which establishes as norms of international law the way in which the state must treat individuals. Specific mechanisms have also been established by the United Nations to monitor compliance with these agreements.54

Nevertheless, this significant and historical change in this held has not deterred scientists and engineers, politicians, businessmen, philosophers, and citizens from continuing to debate whether or not scientific and technological activities and decision-making processes would be bound even by a moral obligation.55 It may come as a surprise to some that scientific and technological activities and decision-making processes have something to do with international human rights standards.56 These current policies, approaches, and attitudes which create or maintain an artificial dichotomy between legal and human rights considerations and scientific and technological activities should be abandoned or rectified. Imperative human rights, humanitarian and legal considerations are too often considered as separate and secondary interests, or sometimes even regarded as irrelevant and not as integral parts of scientific and technological activities and policies. One might add that this approach of "artificial compartmentalization" could be for many policy- and decision-makers a convenient means to marginalize the human rights and legal factors.57

In this connection, the comments made by the United Nations Department of Technical Co-operation for Development, in its reply to the questionnaire on "popular participation"58 pursuant to resolution 1986/14 of the Commission on Human Rights, should be noted with interest: "The notion of human rights underlies technical assistance activities, and more specifically, UNDTCD projects in the field of integrated rural development, concerned with the improvement of socio-economic and living conditions in rural areas, based on the concept of community and popular participation in all aspects of decision-making, as well as in the implementation of practical activities affecting their lives."

Participation in the field of politics, culture, education, communication, social science, etc., is not an end in itself. It also serves as a means for the exercise of human rights in these spheres, at the local, national, regional, and international level.59 Professor Peter Jambrek pointed out in his study, entitled Participation as a Human Right and as a Means of Exercise of Human Rights, prepared for the Unesco Division of Human Rights and Peace in 1982, that "Participation is also viewed as a means to guarantee and foster the right to development, to combat racism and racial discrimination, and to promote the interests and needs of underprivileged communities in the process of decision-making at political, economic, social, and cultural levels."60

It has been ascertained that the United Nations University has developed a series of projects on scientific and technological developments, and it has been explained that these projects have the common objective of setting forth the guidelines for science and technology policies to contribute best to human and social development needs.61

In fact, the need for guidelines has been pointed out by the group of experts on the question of "the balance which should be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual cultural, and moral advancement of humanity"62 as well as by the summary of conclusions drawn from the studies by the Secretary-General between 1973 and 1976 in "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments."63

Whether one considers or not that the existing human rights standards already cover the whole range of scientific and technological activities, or that some additional standards are necessary, it could be said that it is now time that we recognized the need to establish the accountability of governments and of international organizations in terms of the impact of their policies and programmes on the beneficial use of scientific and technological developments from a human rights and international legal point of view in the present world.

In 1984, the head of the Japanese delegation to the Commission on Human Rights, Mrs Sadako Ogata, stated that: "the time had come to appraise the studies undertaken and bring them up to date where necessary in the light of the advances made during the past decade, so as to enable the Commission to consider what further action was needed."64

Asserting that "the existing human rights standards in the field are adequate so that no further guidelines would be necessary" may not necessarily be persuasive as an argument, when we know that effective implementation of the existing norms is something different from mere standard-setting. It might be interesting to recall, in this connection, that the Commission on Human Rights, although recognizing that new standards, rules, or new rights are not necessary, decided to prepare a new "declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms" by establishing an open-ended pre-sessional working group of the Commission.65 This future declaration's main aim is not to establish new rights but to promote more effective implementation of the existing human rights standards. A similar approach could be also taken with regard to science and technology.

It is submitted that establishing new guidelines in the field of scientific and technological developments and a new human rights framework might certainly facilitate the transfer of scientific and technological activities from the purely technical and natural scientific arena to the legal and political arena, so that more human rights considerations would be given in the process.

The author of the present article truly hopes that the United Nations University's project on scientific and technological developments and human rights will bring us some new and fruitful achievements in the field, particularly as this is the first time the United Nations University has decided to respond to an invitation made by a United Nations human rights body and to launch a project of this kind.66


Contents - Previous - Next