|The Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-studies (UNU, 1993, 322 pages)|
|4. Human rights and technological development: Eastern Europe and Poland|
Poland, like other countries of Eastern Europe, has now undertaken a substantial reorientation of her approach to human rights. Citizens' rights, subordinating individual human rights to collective and social rights, and identifying increases in the satisfaction of the fundamental needs of society with increases in the fulfilment of human rights, are being replaced by liberally perceived human rights, which place individual freedom above the interests of the collectivity.
This new approach to human rights has changed, in a substantial way, the attitude of the societies of East European countries towards technological development. Traditional technologies collide with the new interpretation of human rights, giving rise to sharp social protest. In view of this, the necessity arises to bring about a profound transformation in the field of technological development, especially with regard to the replacement of traditional technologies with advanced technologies. However, here again collisions are possible, as shown by the example of nuclear power engineering.
While the process of reorienting the countries of Eastern Europe in the field of human rights has been short and radical, the reorientation of technological development is impossible in a short time and encounters many economic, cultural, and social barriers. The basic economic barrier is the lack of means for the implementation of advanced technologies. In the short run, importing advanced technologies is, in practical terms, the only possibility for countries with low- and middle-level development. Such imports cannot be rapidly replaced by domestic technologies because of the inferiority of local scientific and technological potential, compared with that of leading countries in the field, and also because of the lower qualifications of local technical staff.
To sum up, it should be stated that the thesis on the interaction between human rights and technological development finds confirmation in the example of East European countries. It should be noted, however, that the change in the approach to human rights has resulted so far in a one-sided impact on the direction of technological development.