IU McKinney Pro Bono Group Calls for Focus on Access to Knowledge as a Human Right


Advocating access to knowledge and a developmental approach to intellectual property issues, IU McKinney students and faculty called upon the Geneva-based United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to urge Egypt to ensure “that new technologies and cultural works are made affordable to all sectors of society.”

“Debates on IP in Egypt still focus problematically on topics of policing and enforcement,” Professor Lea Shaver noted in the report from IU McKinney’s Pro Bono UN Human Rights Reporting Program. “Overly rigid enforcement of patents and copyrights can have a detrimental impact on access. The right to science and culture recognizes the importance of protecting and expanding access to technology and opportunities to take part in cultural life.”

“As Egyptians work to shape their future, we hope an appreciation of the impact of IP on access to technology and cultural participation for all Egyptians will be part of the democratic vision,” Shaver said.

The report asks the committee to put greater emphasis on the Article 15 “right to science and culture” enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), noting that “Article 15 has historically received little attention in the CESCR's reporting process than many others, in part due to uncertainties of interpretation.”

McKinney students and graduates participated in the project. They included Eslah Salah Alkathiri, LL.M. candidate; Mohamed Arafa, S.J.D. ‘13; 3L J. Michael Blackwell; 2L Ritu Chokshi; 2L Sherif Mohamed Mansour; 2L Deyana Fatme Unis; and 2L Qifan Wang. Arafa and Mansour both hail from Egypt. Shaver and Professor Ian McIntosh of the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts serve as faculty advisors to McKinney’s Pro Bono UN Human Rights Reporting Program. Perfecto “Boyet” Caparas, LL.M. ’05, heads the program.

“The right to access to knowledge, science, art and culture implicates a broad array of fundamental human rights, not only in the economic, social and cultural spheres, but in the civil and political areas as well,” Caparas said. “Egypt has the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to equality and non- discrimination in exercising the right to access to knowledge, science, art and culture.”

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