The Right to Science and Africa | 26 January 2023

This online Symposium is organised by the Cambridge-Harvard Right to Science Study Group at gloknos, led by Christine Mitchell (Harvard), Sebastian Porsdam Mann (Oxford), and Helle Porsdam (UNESCO Chair of Cultural Rights, University of Copenhagen), in collaboration with Kostantinos Tararas and the UNESCO's Inclusion, Rights and Intercultural Dialogue Section.

The event takes place on 26 January from 1 to 4:30 PM GMT. To attend, please register here: You will then receive the event's Zoom link.

Drawing on its normative arsenal and notably its 2017 Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers, UNESCO, the United Nations specialized agency on science, promotes a holistic vision of science anchored in human rights.

The COVID-19 experience has shown the need for a stronger application of the right to science in the face of modern-day challenges. At the same time, it put the spotlight on critical gaps in this respect. References to the right in the design of responses remained throughout the pandemic inconsistent and sporadic.

Taking a closer look at the right to science and Africa could not be timelier. Science, technology and innovation are the heart of the continent’s vision for a better future as captured by Agenda 2063. And it is even more important to consider the role of the right to science in transforming this aspiration to reality when we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The presentations and the ensuing conversation will bring to the fore developments, challenges and recommendations for future action.


  • Prof. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, Associate Professor, University of Ghana School of Law
  • Dr. Klaus Beiter, Associate Professor of International Human Rights Law, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Dr. Siyabulela C. Fobosi, Senior Researcher & Acting Head: UNESCO ‘Oliver Tambo’ Chair of Human Rights, Nelson R. Mandela School of Law
  • Trish Lorenz, journalist and writer, winner of the 2021/2022 Nine Dots Prize
  • Dr. Abdul Mohammad, Senior Professor of Biological Psychology at Linnaeus University, and associated at Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Sandile Mtetwa, Africans in STEM, PhD candidate in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge, Gates-Cambridge Scholar, and NanoDTC associate

1:00pm – 1:10pm

Introductory remarks, Professor & UNESCO Chair Helle Porsdam, University of Copenhagen

1:10pm – 1:20pm

Introductory remarks, Programme Specialist at UNESCO, Konstantinos Tararas

First part:

1:20pm – 1:40pm

Prof. Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, “Freedom of scientific researchers in Africa: perspectives from a UNESCO research project”

1:40pm – 2:00

Dr. Siyabulela C Fobosi, “The Neglected Right to Science in Africa”

2:00pm – 2:20pm

Trish Lorenz, “Technology will set us free’: how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is impacting young Africans”

2:20pm – 2:35pm

Discussion: takeaways and recommendations

2:35pm – 2:50pm


Second part:

2:50pm – 3:10pm

Sandile Mtetwas, “Knowledge and Skill Set Transfer Between the Diaspora and Africa: The Case of Climate Change Mitigation”

3:10pm – 3:30pm

Dr. Klaus Beiter, “The right to science, copyright, and access to scholarly publications in Africa”

3:30pm – 3:50pm

Dr. Abdul Mohammad, “Science by and for Africans: Applying the Right to Science in Africa”

3:50pm – 4:05pm

Discussion: takeaways and recommendations

4:05pm – 4:30pm

Taking this agenda forward – insights, conclusions, and recommendations


Image: State-commissioned mural in Ghana representing Ancient Ghanaian science.