Fair and equitable benefit-sharing at the cross-roads of the human right to science and international biodiversity law

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As the debate about the need to clarify the content of the human right to science intensifies, this article assesses opportunities for opening a scholarly and policy dialogue on fair and equitable benefit-sharing between international human rights and biodiversity lawyers. To that end, the article contrasts the emerging conceptualizations of the right to science in the context of international cultural rights and of fair and equitable benefit-sharing under international biodiversity law. It then critically assesses the potential for cross-fertilization with specific regard to: the sharing of scientific information and promotion of scientific cooperation, the transfer of technology, and the protection and valorization of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. While acknowledging that both the right to science and fair and equitable benefit-sharing are far from being fully understood or operationalized, the article argues that developments in international biodiversity law concerning the latter may provide insights into how a vague and optimistic concept can (and when it cannot) lead to tangible outcomes, rather than remaining merely rhetorical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803-831
Number of pages29
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2015


  • right to science
  • benefit-sharing
  • equity
  • international law
  • biodiversity
  • human rights
  • environmental law

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