Article 27

 

What is Article 27?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, includes an article that supports the human right to participate in science through education, advocacy, and the development of open tools for self-research. This article, known as Article 27, has been largely neglected but is now gaining attention from those working on participatory science and open culture.

The first clause of Article 27 acknowledges that the right to participation in science is a fundamental human right. This implies a right of access to data, instrumentation, and scientific literature, because without access to these resources, no participation in science is possible. The text of the first clause is as follows:

“Everyone has 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.”

The second clause of Article 27, typically used to defend private copyright interests, is also important. It states:

“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

This clause is particularly relevant in the context of human sciences today, which often rely on data collected from individuals in the course of their daily life or “harvested” from individuals through enrollment in scientific studies. When our own data is used for scientific production by others, shouldn’t we also have a right to use it ourselves? If we have a right to the moral and material interests of any scientific production of which we are the author, don’t we also have a right to use materials of authorship derived from our own bodies and experiences?

The organization Article-27.org is working to educate, advocate, and develop instrumentation so that everyone can access useful tools for reasoning about themselves using their own data. They believe that science, as our accumulated tradition of formal tools for thinking, belongs to everyone. They are open to collaboration with funders, developers, researchers, and community members who share this aim.

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