Where Have All the Scientific and Academic Freedoms Gone? And, What Is ‘Adequate for Science’? Crucial Guidance on the Interpretation of the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and Its Applications

Article 15(1)(b) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights protects the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (REBSPA). While this provision’s interpretation has not been a focus of attention in the past, this is changing. A danger lies in construing this provision as entitling states to comprehensively regulate the field of science, at the expense of scientific and academic freedom. Scientific or academic freedom rather than state regulation guarantees creativity and innovation in the field of science for the benefit of society at large. This paper seeks to guide all those tasked with interpreting Article 15(1)(b) – specifically, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Relying on the notion that a science system must be ‘adequate for science’, the paper concludes with a set of twenty-two recommendations on how the REBSPA should be construed so as to duly respect scientific and academic freedom.