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close this bookThe Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-studies (UNU, 1993, 322 pages)
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View the documentNote to the reader from the UNU
View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contents1. Technological impacts on human rights: Models of development, science and technology, and human rights
Open this folder and view contents2. Democracy, human rights and the impact of scientifc and technological development in Venezuela
Open this folder and view contents3. Technology and human rights: critical implications for Thailand
Open this folder and view contents4. Human rights and technological development: Eastern Europe and Poland
Open this folder and view contents5. The impact of modern science and technology on human rights in Ethiopia
Open this folder and view contents6. Western European case-study: The impact of advanced methods of medical treatment on human rights
Open this folder and view contents7. Conclusions
View the documentAppendices
View the documentContributors
View the documentOther titles of interest

(introductory text...)

Studies on the affirmative use of science and technology for the furtherance of human rights, commissioned as a special project by the United Nations University, following a reference to the University by the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Edited by C.G. Weeramantry

United Nations
University Press

The United Nations University is an organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly in 1972 to be an international community of scholars engaged in research, advanced training, and the dissemination of knowledge related to the pressing global problems of human survival, development, and welfare. Its activities focus mainly on peace and conflict resolution, development in a changing world. and science and technology in relation to human welfare. The University operates through a worldwide network of research and postgraduate training centres, with its planning and coordinating headquarters in Tokyo.

© The United Nations University, 1993

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations University.

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Note to the reader from the UNU

The UN Commission on Human Rights invited the United Nations University in 1986 to study both the positive and negative impacts of scientific and technological development on human rights and fundamental freedoms. The University responded to the invitation by launching a research project on the interrelationship between human rights and the advances in science and technology, focusing especially on the interaction between socio-cultural, economic, and political factors on the one hand and scientific and technological advances on the other. One aim of the project was to formulate policy recommendations that will strengthen the positive impacts of technological development, and an effort was made to survey the opinions and perceptions of international experts and human rights lawyers in developing countries in order that those recommendations would carry not only social scientific significance but have legal applicability as well.

This publication is a sequel to Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development, edited by C.G. Weeramantry and published by the United Nations University Press in 1990. It includes a philosophical overview and case-studies relating to Western Europe, Eastern Europe (with special reference to Poland), Latin America (Venezuela), South-East Asia (Thailand), and Africa (Ethiopia).


This is a sequel to Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (UNU Press, 1990) and takes the studies further - from the generic to the specific -by exploring, through case-studies, the impacts of scientific and technological developments on human rights. The contributions by Aart Hendriks and Manfred Nowak (the Netherlands), Vitit Muntarbhorn (Thailand), Pawel Bozyk (Poland), Edgardo Lander (Venezuela), and Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabber (Ethiopia) touch on the complex relationship between human rights on the one hand and agricultural and industrial technology, biomedical technology, firearms technology, and the economic impact of technology on the other. They all stress the importance of technology for self-reliance and utilization of its advances to supplement rather than supplant traditional technologies, as well as a careful consideration of the potential and unintended implications for human rights. These case-studies will offer new grounds and avenues for furthering theories and promoting practical policy recommendations in the area of science, technology, and human rights.

Professor C.G. Weeramantry, who served as editor of the first volume, continued to coordinate the research and edit the results included in the present volume. In 1990 he was elected a judge of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. We wish to congratulate him on his election to this important international position and express our heartfelt gratitude for his excellent and dedicated work as editor of this volume.

We are happy to record with appreciation the support provided for the project by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Japan. We are also grateful to the UN Centre for Human Rights for its encouragement and cooperation in undertaking the research.

Roland J. Fuchs
The United Nations University

(introductory text...)


The spectacular advances in science and technology that have continued unabated throughout the 1980s have emphasized the urgency of the problems considered in this volume. With every step forward in science and technology, the power of these forces to affect human society for better or for worse has increased. The power of science and technology at the of the appearance of this volume is greater than it was when the previous volume in this series appeared two years ago. With every passing year that power will increase and the need to use it in the interest of human rights will grow correspondingly more urgent. Since this task grows more difficult by the day, it is right that we bring to it a sense of compelling urgency.

Moreover, just as the power of science and technology keeps growing, the problems we are addressing tend to worsen. For example, given that the right to food and a pure environment is a recognized human right, the problems facing us today at the beginning of the 1990s are far more acute than they were in the early 1980s. To quote the Bellagio Declaration on Overcoming Hunger in the 1990s:1

We have only imprecise numbers to take measure of the hungry, but those numbers tell us that: (1) a billion people live in households too poor to obtain the food they need for work; (2) half of these are too poor even to obtain the food they need to maintain activity; (3) one child in six is born underweight and one in three is underweight by age 5; and (4) hundreds of millions of people suffer from anaemia, goitre, and impaired sight from diets with too little iron, iodine or vitamin A In a world of potential food plenty, we have collectively failed more than one billion of our people.

The urgency thus grows on two fronts - the scientific and the practical - and in combination these two factors produce an exponential growth in the urgency and the magnitude of the problem.

A world that has moved from the concept of the mere coexistence of nations to that of active cooperation among them for the betterment of the human condition can no longer ignore the problem. In the words of Javier Perez de Cuéllar, former Secretary-General of the United Nations:

One of the great challenges of the new era is to realize the possibilities of genuine cooperation to the maximum extent that the world's resources and capabilities will permit. Lasting peace will necessarily require an improvement in the human condition. This, in time, can only be achieved through productive patterns of interaction among all members of the international community.2

Science and technology offer the opportunity par excellence for generating "productive patterns of interaction among all members of the international community." Human rights is a vital field of attention in the drive to improve the human condition. Such an improvement is, as the Secretary-General observes, a prerequisite for lasting peace. The studies in this volume, therefore, contribute some perspectives to a problem as important as that of global peace, for we see all around us the spectre of desperate and destabilizing denials of human rights, in the midst of a growing scientific and technological capability to eliminate some of their root causes. These studies come at an opportune moment in history, when scientific and technological capability has grown to unprecedented proportions, and further delay can only be indulged in at the cost of lasting damage to the future of the race.

In addressing a problem as immense as that of the interaction between science and technology and human rights, we have had to be selective. Our scheme has been to select one or more aspects of technology that are of special relevance to a particular geographical region and to make a study of their impact on one country within that region. Thus we have a series of studies on a number of subjects, all of which are of immediate interest to vast sectors of the global population.

The areas covered include: agricultural technology (Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand); industrial technology (Dr Bozyk of the Nowa Huta industrial complex in Poland); biomedical technology (Mr Hendriks and Professor Nowak of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights); firearms technology (Professor Egziabher and others from Ethiopia); the economic impact of technology (Dr Lander of Venezuela); and a conceptual study of scientific technology and human rights by Dr Jan Berting of the Netherlands.

Although these studies concentrate on particular areas, they all yield valuable insights across a wide spectrum of activities pertinent to the impact of technology on human rights. Nor is their importance confined to one country or region, for many of the conclusions reached are applicable to countries with economies or social backgrounds similar to those investigated. Indeed, the conclusions from some studies are almost universally applicable.

Thus Dr Berting's conceptual study of technology and human rights is universal in its outlook, and places in perspective the numerous practical and conceptual problems that occur at the interface where modern technology impinges on the body of human rights norms that are now part of the human heritage.

Dr Lander's study of the experience of Venezuela as a South American oil-producing nation has relevance not only to other countries in South America, but also to other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Similarly, Professor Muntarbhorn's description of the impact of technology on Thai agriculture would be applicable in large measure to most countries in South and South-East Asia, subject to modifications necessitated by the local context. They may also afford relevant insights for many countries on the African continent, and in general for developing countries, newly industrialized countries, or countries approaching that status. The examination by Dr Egziabher of firearms technology and its profound impact upon all aspects of Ethiopian social and political life has implications for all countries, especially in the developing world.

The study of biomedical technologies by Hendriks and Nowak is a pointer to the sort of problems all countries could face in the future, when sophisticated biomedical technologies spread over the whole globe, as they are already in the process of doing. Dr Bozyk's study of the problems attendant on the massive and sudden introduction of industrial technology into a society has widespread relevance at a time when so many countries are looking to this course as a way out of their economic problems.

The impact of technology has ranged from the peaceful penetration of useful technologies to what Dr Egziabher has described as the "violent entry" of destruction technologies. In all this, the impact upon lifestyles that have been maintained for centuries, if not millenia, has been profound and widespread.

To hark back to the genesis of this project, a growing awareness of the problems at the interface between the expanding domains of technology and human rights prompted the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim in 1975 its Declaration on the Use of Scientific and Technological Progress in the Interests of Peace for the Benefit of Mankind (Resolution 3384 (X X X) of 10 November 1975). This Declaration called upon all states to take appropriate measures to prevent the use of scientific and technological developments to limit or interfere with the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights, and other relevant international documents.

That same Declaration called upon all states to cooperate in the establishment, strengthening, and development of the scientific and technological capacity of developing countries with a view to accelerating the realization of the social and economic rights of the peoples of those countries.

A decade later, Resolution 1988/9 of the Commission on Human Rights dealt with the use of scientific and technological developments for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It invited the United Nations University, in cooperation with other interested academic and research institutions, to study both the positive and negative impacts of scientific and technological development on human rights and fundamental freedoms, and expressed the hope that the United Nations University would inform the Commission on Human Rights of the results of its study.

Pursuant to that resolution, such a study was undertaken, of which this volume is a part. The preceding volume in the series explored many of the conceptual aspects of this problem, as compared with the present volume, which explores its practical and specific aspects with reference to a representative selection of countries and regions.

Readers interested in the history of United Nations approaches to human rights and scientific and technological developments will find these outlined and commented upon in Sadako Ogata's Introduction to the first volume.

Yo Kubota and Hiroko Yamane pursued this further in chapters on the institutional response (chap. 6) and the normative response (chap. 7), where the reader will find details of the various resolutions, declarations, studies and reports in this field, along with relevant aspects of national legislation. These chapters also draw attention to the specific human rights that are particularly affected by scientific and technological progress.

Conceptual overviews were supplied in part 2 of that volume by Professors Amilcar Herrera, Saneh Chamarik, and Tom J. Farer.

Some specific issues were treated in depth in the later chapter. While the present editor dealt with human rights and development (chap. 8), Vid Vukasovic discussed human rights and environmental issues (chap. 9). Shigeru Nakayama contributed a vital chapter on the structure of the scientific enterprise.

The volume closed with a number of suggestions and recommendations (chap. 10), dealing with both conceptual advances and new institutional structures. Among the problems identified were lack of participation in scientific and technological decision-making, inaccessibility and maldistribution of information, and the need to change the view that technological development in the developing world is a dependent variable of what happens in the advanced countries. The need to develop technological self-reliance and to use new technology to supplement rather than supplant traditional technologies was stressed. The studies emphasized three principal elements involved in using technology for purposes beneficial to developing societies: their participation in the process of decision-making; their contribution to the technology itself; and their enjoyment of that technology, in the sense that it reaches and benefits the bulk of the people in a given society rather than a select few. It also emerged from those studies that a vital need was the training of personnel who were attuned to the problems and who would implement at all levels the procedures and purposes outlined.

The present volume takes these studies further, from the general to the specific, by exploring, in the context of specific countries, selected areas of science and technology in greater depth. It thus offers a series of practical studies as a sequel to the theoretical discussions in the previous volume. Together these studies provide a firm theoretical and practical foundation for such further research and practical projects as may be considered necessary.

There follows a brief resume of the contributions contained in this volume.

Jan Berting's analysis covers the interactions between technology and society in three areas: technology viewed as sets of physical objects, technology in the sense of know-how, and technology in the sense of the theory of the application of technology. In this latter category "software" is stressed, in contrast to the "hardware" aspects which predominate in the first two meanings. In the area of this third category we see the rise of a new intellectual technology adapted to the handling of large and complex organizations and systems.

The Berting analysis places the continuing impact of science and technology on society in the historical context of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, with its emphasis on the power of man over nature. This impact is traced through to the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. These historical factors combine to produce various models of development, one of which is the deterministic model in which science and technology determine the course of their own development and society adapts itself to these forces, over which it has little control. A significant part of Berting's analysis is devoted to ways in which this deterministic model can be "deconstructed." He warns us that deterministic and related models are very resistant to theoretical attacks, and that the path from the deterministic model to the voluntaristic one is narrow and difficult. Education is a major element in this process, for people need to be aware of the consequences of deterministic models of development.

There is also a fascinating analysis of the movement "upstream" and "downstream" of scientific influences; this considers the movement of science and technology from its originators to its consumers.

Such an analysis revives also the discussion in volume I by Nakayama of the "rights of the ignorant" and the need for another kind of enlightenment by which the public who are the consumers of technology would have the right not to be disadvantaged by their ignorance - a matter acquiring increasing importance owing to the complexity of modern technology, which places it well beyond the comprehension of most of its consumers. This will lead to a better understanding of problems of choice in relation to technology, rather than to an attitude of passive submission to both the course that technology will take and the will of "upstream" interest groups.

The study also gives us an understanding of the reasons why the deterministic model is so well entrenched. This model devotes itself not merely to the selection and adoption of the best technology, but concentrates also on the best type of organization of the production process. The logic of this model forces social life to adapt to its needs and dooms to extinction any social or cultural traditions that stand in its way.

This vital aspect of the interaction between technological development and human rights must receive concerned attention if technology is to be used consciously for the betterment of society. The iron grip in which, from the time of the Industrial Revolution, society has been held and moulded by the demands of science and technology needs to be seen in this light if there is to be liberation and social autonomy rather than passive subjection.

Even though technology may offer humanity apparently dazzling prospects, such as freedom from work, these may lead to more severe problems if the philosophical models of technology are not properly understood.

Berting's survey takes a brief look at other models, such as the Marxist view of revolutionary change rather than gradualist development, Durkheim's view of the greater realization of individual development through increasing division of labour, the views of the historical school, who see all social institutions as the product of distinctive cultures, and Pareto's model of societal change as a cyclical process. The separation of secular and spiritual powers, as analysed by Weber, and the emergence of bureaucratic authority are among other matters discussed.

This philosophical overview provides an indispensable point of departure for our practical enquiries. In a sense it is the bridge between the two volumes in this series.

The first specific country study is Dr Lander's chapter on democracy, human rights, and the impact of scientific and technological development in Venezuela. Dr Lander looks at scientific and technological development in its role as an important political issue in the developing world. Lander identifies two factors responsible for this role: the perverse consequences of scientific and technological development and the ever-increasing demand for participation by citizens in these issues which have so much practical importance for them.

The chapter explains the basic constitutive pact of the Venezuelan democratic system, stemming from a consensus between the main political parties, and examines some of its economic and technological limitations. It has resulted in a highly interventionist state. Coupled with this, the oil economy, which resulted in the highest per capita income of Latin America, resulted also in expensive and large-scale solutions rather than modest proposals.

In the context of the third world, the problem assumes special relevance when technological choices absorb, for the sake of a few showpiece products, a disproportionate share of national resources. The author similarly shows how the stress on exports, aimed at developing the economy and servicing the foreign debt, leads to a decrease in the production of traditional foods and an increase in dependence on production technology. It is not difficult to see how deeply human rights issues become enmeshed in these problems. The political debates and social conflicts that have occurred in Latin America on these matters have given rise to perhaps the most copious body of literature on the subject. The reader will find Lander's researches a useful point of entry to this body of literature.

Lander's study shows how, despite official opposition to debates on nuclear policy, public opposition helped to bring about the cancellation of most of these programmes. It also draws attention to the arms industry and military expenditure and their multiple adverse effects upon human rights.

Environmental concerns also loom large in Latin America, with regard not only to the devastation of forests and contamination of air, water, and soil, but also to the immense development projects, such as those in the Brazilian Amazon Basin. All of these have become important political issues and highlight the

INTRODUCTION 7 importance of the decision-making process. They also show the power of international environmental groups acting by themselves and in concert with domestic groups.

The author goes on to examine the "oil economy" of Venezuela and its impact upon lifestyle and politics. In spite of the "wealth" of the oil industry, the country still experiences conditions which in many areas do not differ widely from those of countries with more limited resources. The author describes how the Venezuelan experience can be taken as a case-study showing that inappropriate technological options can cause more problems than they solve.

The preference for the most advanced medical technology without adequate studies on its utility or efficiency is a major problem, shared by all contemporary societies. In the medical field in Venezuela, the paper observes that the privileged status of high-technology medicine leads to an incapacity to respond at other levels of the health system.

High-cost housing, not dependent on traditional technologies or local materials, is preferred on the basis of models in industrialized countries. Yet such housing is beyond the reach of the bulk of the population. Techniques of construction that have been abandoned could have much significance. The adverse impact on democracy of the requirements imposed on the country by the International Monetary Fund has serious implications, as pointed out by the author, according to whom the very notion of national sovereignty thereby becomes blurred. The gap between precept and practice in human rights regulation, especially in such fields as environmental legislation, is also the subject of critical comment.

The pattern of another developing economy provides the backdrop for the next study in the series: Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn's article on "Technology and Human Rights: Critical Implications for Thailand." A high incidence of poverty in the country, together with a high degree of urban industrialization, raises a whole array of socio-economic and cultural issues. We encounter phenomena often seen in developing countries, an increasing gap between the rich and the poor and an environmental decline as a result of commercialization and industrialization. The tendency to view economic growth as a concern of overriding importance can result in a view of human beings as instruments of production, in contradiction of the principle that all development must advance the welfare and culture of the population. Professor Muntarbhorn's paper gives us a glimpse of several arguments and concerns that have surfaced in the Thai context, where the needs of development and the demands of human rights find themselves at odds.

Professor Muntarbhorn traces the various steps taken by different arms of the Thai government to formulate national policy bearing on matters of science and technology. It is noteworthy that the Thai Constitution stipulates in section 61 that the state should promote the application of science and technology in the development of the country. Attention is drawn to the 32 indicators used to gauge the needs of villagers, which then lead to the mobilization of resources and services to respond to those needs. It is interesting that these 32 indicators cover food, shelter, basic social services, security of life and property, family planing, participation in the development process and also, significantly, the development of the "spirit" of the people - that is, attitudes towards cooperation, drugs, tradition, and religion. The indicators are a useful summary for planners of the areas that need attention.

Other matters that claim attention are the problems raised by concepts of intellectual property, the eradication of rural poverty, the shortcomings of welfare services, and the adoption of technology without prior studies of its full impact upon the environment or the community. Examples of the latter are the "Otter-board Trawl," which refers to the transfer of advanced technology from Germany to improve efficiency in catching fish in the Gulf of Thailand, and the dependence on modern pesticides. The former has depleted fishery resources and the latter has increased pest resistance.

Professor Muntarbhorn's paper brings out, in a predominantly agricultural context, the importance of participation by the people in technology decisions that currently are made by an elite group. To step up the level of participation the educational system must be oriented towards technology and human rights education- a much-neglected field.

In Thailand, there has been a very active environmentalist movement, which has often been sufficiently assertive to prevent the construction of large-scale dams that would have adversely affected environment. The conflict between the demands of industry and environmental concerns has been brought out quite strongly in Thailand, for example in the matter of logging.

Another interesting aspect highlighted by the author is that, whereas in the past human rights tended to be asserted mainly against the state and its agents, modern technology as currently used has brought to the surface the question of human rights protection not only from the state but also from the private sector.

The venue shifts to Eastern Europe in the next study, which highlights a different set of problems.

Dr Bozyk's sketch of changing attitudes towards human rights in Poland shows the pronounced shift that has occurred, from a concentration on collective rights to one on individual rights. This shift has produced a marked impact on the direction of scientific and technological development.

An interesting institutional device reflecting the altered emphasis on individual rights is the Polish Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection. This is in addition to the human rights work of such institutions as the Supreme Administrative Court (operative since 1980), the Tribunal of State (since 1982), and the Constitutional Tribunal (since 1985).

After sketching out these altered attitudes and the resulting institutional structures, Dr Bozyk goes on to analyse the interaction between human rights and technological development in Poland, both from the theoretical standpoint and through an examination of specific Polish projects. On a theoretical plane, he traces the interactions between an authoritative political system, an authoritarian

INTRODUCTION 9 economic system, and human rights and technology. He shows the importance of guiding technological development, distinguishing between administrative guidance "from above" and guidance through incentives and market-oriented methods. The specific projects examined are the Nowa Huta steel factory and the textile industry in Lódz.

The current state of technological progress in Poland is examined in relation to the developed industrial economies of the West as well as the Eastern European countries. In basic sciences such as mathematics, physics, astronomy, and mechanics, Poland is a country to be reckoned with by any standards, whereas in applied sciences such as electronics, computer sciences, automation, and chemistry, it lags behind as a result of a lack of indispensable technical equipment. The causes of these inadequacies are explained in terms of government policy and human rights priorities.

In the 1980s a process of decentralization of authority in relation to technological expansion was initiated and, at the beginning of the 1990s, Polish manufacturing and scientific/technological enterprises gained full legal and financial independence. At the same time, consumer, conservationist, and other organizations gained the right to veto decisions on technological development. In all of these developments the impact of the new orientation on individual human rights is apparent.

The past interrelationship between the basic character of human rights and the development of traditional technologies is of great interest. Mechanization and automation influence human rights at many points. The impact of industrial technology on human rights is well illustrated through the case-studies of a Polish heavy industry - the steel factory Nowa Huta - and a light industry - the textile industry in Lódz. The immense Nowa Huta complex and the environmental problems resulting from it constitute a classical example of an industrial development being determined and located on the principles of an authoritarian system. Nowa Huta illustrates the inextricable manner in which decisions relating to the choice of technology for a particular region are linked to the enjoyment and deprivation of human rights. As the decision-making process loses its authoritarian character, there is a marked trend towards increasing recognition of individually oriented, rather than collectively oriented, human rights and a trend towards participatory decision-making, though this latter is heavily dependent upon the amount of knowledge - general, technical, organizational and economic- at the people's disposal.

The author also outlines the position in Poland in relation to the interaction between advanced technologies - electronic communications, computerization, and nuclear energy in particular- and human rights.

The essay is a careful demonstration of the interaction between science and technology and human rights in a social and political setting that may not be familiar to many Western readers. It illustrates the dynamic changes taking place in current patterns of technological decision-making and their resultant impact upon both the nature and the quality of human rights. Many countries confronted with a changing emphasis on human rights values and changing patterns of technological decision-making could benefit from this intimate study of the Polish experience.

From an examination of these three very different sorts of economies of the developing world, the focus shifts to a historical survey of the damaging impact on a traditional society of the destructive firearms technology of the West. The Ethiopian study shows how, at every stage after contact with this technology, the rulers accorded prime importance to its acquisition, much to the detriment of both indigenous technology and the development of other lines of modern technology.

The study reveals the existence of an Ethiopian technology sufficient to produce guns and gunpowder, and also the adaptation of materials from native flora for the purpose of the manufacture of gunpowder. It reveals a high degree of creativity which could have blossomed into a variety of local technological skills, but which was all diverted into weapons, thereby stunting the development of Ethiopian technology.

This study, which goes into considerable historical detail to illustrate its main points, shows how firearms caused the crumbling of traditional Ethiopian society and whatever human rights protections it had devised. It also demonstrates the adverse impact of this technology upon management and the environment. Against the backdrop of Ethiopian history, we see how this technology has resulted in the reduction of Ethiopian society to a series of warring groups.

Another important area is the interrelationship between the social attitude towards artisans and the level of technology development. Where artisans thrive and are respected, technology thrives. Where the reverse is the case, technology is stifled. The Ethiopian fear of this class and the prejudice felt towards it had a crippling effect upon technology development.

The authors use the example of firearms to demonstrate that there has been a consistent lack, to this day, of a coherent science and technology policy, as a result of which the importation and adoption of modern technologies has been haphazard. Such factories and enterprises as exist date back to before the revolution of 1974. These were largely the work of individual entrepreneurs and bear little relationship to general technology needs, cottage industries, and natural resources. Research and development is in its infancy. Uncritical importation of technological hardware is killing cottage industry.

Another important area covered in this study is concerned with the traditional work of women and the technology and human rights aspects relating thereto. The study points out that the traditional injustice to women with regard to their share of the workload tends to be perpetuated under modern conditions, where, in several African countries, it is the men and not the women who are given the benefits of agricultural extension services. Moreover, because men are responsible for public activities and the women are bound to the family, the latter tend to be left out of the database for planning, education, and technological innovation. The deficiency of women's education is greatest in the technological field, in spite of women's importance in the labour force.

An interesting aspect deserving of attention by technology planners is that when a strictly feminine job is mechanized, as with the motorized grinding mill, the formerly feminine tasks are taken over by men, leaving the women with the more poorly paid jobs, such as cleaning the grain before it enters the grinding mill. Also men play the determining role in deciding what technologies should be adopted and are not primarily concerned with easing the workload of the women. The study concludes that the neglect of the technological problems of women, whether in the workplace or in the home, has to change if third-world countries are to develop at all. The impact of cash crops on traditional agriculture is also examined, as is the tendency of cash crops to attract such new technology as might be available.

The Ethiopian context, so remote to most readers, is brought alive by the Egziabher study. It provides essential background information for the planning of new technologies in a manner that will be least damaging to human rights and most conducive to the betterment of the life and working conditions of that half of the population whose position tends too often to be overlooked.

From these studies of the developing world we revert to the Western European milieu and the study of problems associated with sophisticated biomedical technology. Aart Hendriks and Manfred Nowak contribute a chapter, written with particular reference to the Netherlands, on the impact of advanced methods of medical treatment on human rights.

Biomedical advances are without a doubt one of the most far-reaching areas of modern technological achievement. Their potential to affect human society in all its aspects, from macro-social organization to the micro-facets of their impact upon the human body, exceeds the power wielded by many other branches of technology. Moreover, these advances, still in their infancy, open up large vistas hitherto contemplated only in the area of science fiction. These possibilities necessitate the timely consideration of the potential for good or ill of this branch of science.

Given that the European context is one in which these impacts will be felt ahead of most other sectors of the global society, it is appropriate that this case-study should focus on the problems which have already emerged, and which are seen as likely to emerge, in the context of the advanced scientific culture of Europe.

The authors focus on the major implications of advanced medical treatment methods on the rights and freedoms of the individual recipient of health care. They draw attention to the new contradictions in society that may emerge from the introduction of the new treatment methods. Some groups will benefit and others will be hindered in the enjoyment of their rights. The paper seeks to achieve a balance between these conflicting positions on the basis of current international human rights law. The authors strike a note of caution in relation to their conclusions, as the impact of rapid development in this field has still not been fully realized.

The paper deals, inter alia, with artificial methods of procreation, medical genetics, and compulsory medical examinations. It also provides a useful background of basic information about relevant human rights and human rights structures that function in the European region.

Among the topics dealt with in the section on artificial methods of procreation are artificial insemination, egg donation, In vitro fertilization, and surrogacy. To what extent may states restrict reproductive technologies? Should access to artificial methods of procreation be restricted only to married couples? How can the exploitation of surrogacy measures be restrained? These are some of the fascinating questions addressed, which give us some idea of the kaleidoscope of issues opened up by the new genetic technology.

Medical genetics, which emerged as a new science in the 1960s, resulted from progress in biomedical and molecular genetics that made screening for hereditary and inborn traits possible. Recombinant DNA techniques bring within the range of possibility a type of genetic structuring that goes so far as to raise the question of the dangers of manipulation of the human body. The impact on human rights is, of course, profound.

The irreversible effects on future generations of even therapeutic engineering raise difficult conceptual issues. The authors make recommendations in relation to genetic experiments and research, and stress the need for international cooperation. Issues relating to privacy and the protection of personal data, and the right to the enjoyment of autonomy, are among the matters discussed.

On compulsory and mandatory medical examinations, the authors stress the importance of the "informed consent" principle. They discuss such issues as compulsory medical examinations by the state, by private individuals, and by companies, thus foreshadowing problems which must soon be faced before these technologies become the subject of general application.

The conclusions drawn in this chapter will serve as important guidelines to all who are engaged in actual research and in the administrative sectors of public life, and who will need to make policy decisions on the grave and far-reaching issues involved. Moreover, as these technologies, which are at present confined to advanced technological societies, become global in their scope, the guidelines emerging from studies such as these will have universal application.

These studies, representative of different geographical regions and of different types of technology, open up many fields for further inquiry. It is hoped they will prove both informative and stimulating.


1. The Bellagio Declaration was adopted at a meeting of planners, practitioners, opinion leaders, and scientists meeting at the Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Centre in Bellagio, Italy, on 13-16 November 1989. For the text, see Development Dialogue, vol. 2 (1989): 177-84.

2. Development Forum, vol. 19, no. 2, (1991): 24.

(introductory text...)



The coming of the industrial society, based on a new division of labour and on the systematic application of new technologies, was accompanied by the advent of a new image of man and society. This new image was expressed in such important documents as the Constitution of Virginia, Article I (1776), the Bill of Rights as part of the Constitution of the United States of America (1788) and the Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen (1789). Those documents brought to the fore the pivotal idea of human rights as universal rights, grounded on the recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family.1

During the Second World War mankind experienced extreme cruelties on a large scale, both from policies based on ideologies which emphasized the supposed inequality of "races," and from the uses of new military technologies. After the turmoil of this war the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1'.,48) stressed that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood" (Article 1). The universality of human rights is, again, emphasized in Article 2: "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status."2 Human beings, endowed with reason and conscience, are to be treated as ends in themselves, and not as passive victims of conditions and contingencies they cannot control.

Looking back on the advent of industrial society, it may come as a surprise when we see how little attention was paid, until recently, to a systematic analysis of the relationships between technological changes, on the one hand, and the development and actual implementation of human rights, on the other. We will return to this observation in the ensuing sections. In the meantime it is important to note that the question of the impact of new scientific and technological developments on human rights was brought before the United Nations in 1968 as a result of an initiative taken by the International Conference on Human Rights held in Tehran, Iran, in that year as part of the programme for the International Year for Human Rights.3 Following the recommendations of this conference the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution inviting the Secretary-General to undertake "continuous and interdisciplinary studies, both national and international, which might serve as a basis for drawing up appropriate standards to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms." Specific attention was to be paid to developments in science and technology in relation to:

(1) respect for the privacy of individuals and the integrity and sovereignty of nations in the light of advances in recording and other techniques;

(2) protection of the human personality and its physical and intellectual integrity in the light of advances in biology, medicine, and biochemistry;

(3) uses of electronics that may affect the rights of the person and the limits that should be placed on such uses in a democratic society; and, more generally,

(4) the balance which should be established between scientific and technological progress and the intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and moral advancement of humanity.4

This resolution accentuates the dangers that technological developments harbour with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It should be clear, however, that in many cases technological developments offer opportunities for individual and collective choices and for the enhancement of human rights.5

Nevertheless, it is quite evident that present-day innovations in the domains of energy sciences, information technology, and biotechnology occur so rapidly and offer so many new choices for society that, as Weeramantry says in his seminal contribution to this subject: "Science and technology have burgeoned in the post-war years into instruments of power, control and manipulation. But the legal means of controlling them have not kept pace. Outmoded and out-manoeuvred by the headlong progress of technology, the legal principles that should control it are unresponsive and irrelevant." 6

Most contributions dealing with the relationship between technological developments and social and cultural life analyse chiefly the negative and positive effects of technological change on society, either directly or indirectly. The only course left to society seems to be to adjust to the exigencies of science and technology, for better or for worse. In these analyses, science and technology are considered as autonomous forces over which society has no control. In consequence of the preoccupation with their impact on society, analysis of the ways in which society shapes technological developments has been neglected.

In the next sections we shall discuss the genesis of the model of development that can be considered responsible for this one-sided approach of Western technology. It is important to understand this model of development, in which deterministic ideas regarding technology play a paramount role, if we are to reconsider Western technology's role in the context of opportunities for choice regarding our social and cultural life. After presenting this "technological imperialistic" or "technological functionalist" model of development and discussing its main shortcomings, we shall present some other models of development which have been formulated - partly at least- as a reaction to the claims of technological imperialism. The results of this analysis will be used to elucidate and elaborate the relationship between technological changes and human rights: How can choices be made in a world of technological and social constraints? In what ways can human rights play a pivotal role in the processes of decision-making?

In this contribution much attention is given to the origin, development, and socio-cultural impacts of the Enlightenment model of development. This emphasis on this Western model of development is a deliberate choice based on the following reasons: (a) the model elucidates the specific characteristics of Western technology and the impact of its diffusion throughout the world within a historical perspective; (b) the model is still a powerful instrument in the minds and hands of innovating elites in and outside the Western world, notwithstanding its theoretical and intellectual shortcomings; (c) the presentation of this model reveals, we hope, its strong ideological bias and the concomitant need to deconstruct it in order to find new courses of action; (d) it is hoped that this presentation emphasizes a contrast between the "Western view" of technological development and the models implied by the case-studies in this volume.

However, before describing models of development and their relevance to the relationship between technological change and human rights, we shall turn briefly to the question: "What do we understand by technology?"

The definition of the concept of technology

When we speak about the relationships between technology and human rights, it is evident that we have to deal with the interrelations between some very complex phenomena: technology, science, society or systems of societies, and systems of rights of a universal nature.

To begin with the concept of technology, nearly all human societies have, or have had, technologies which are often very elaborate. As we know, archaeologists have used the occurrence of characteristic technologies as the basis for the classification of prehistorical societies. These classifications are largely based on artefacts left behind by the peoples who once used them. In view of the task in hand, however, we have no use for a general definition of technology which includes only artefacts or the material products of inventions. Our definition of technology must enable us to distinguish between the use of technology in pre-industrial and industrial societies and between industrial societies and post-industrial ones in terms of such factors as flexibility, rigidity, or its pervasiveness in social life.

In a very broad sense the concept of technology may refer to those aspects of culture which relate to the manipulation of the natural environment by man or "that whole collection of ways in which the members of a society provide themselves with the material tools and goods of their society - the collection of artefacts and concepts used to create an advanced socio-politico-economic structure." 7 As we shall explain, such a definition is not adapted to our purposes, as it is too wide.

In order to clarify the questions relating to the interactions between technology and society, we distinguish between:

1. Technology as sets of physical objects, designed and constructed by man. In an industrial society this term refers especially to "artificial things, and more particularly to modern machines: artificial things that

(a) require engineering knowledge for their design and production; and
(b) perform large amounts of operations themselves." 8

In this context the term may also be used to refer to inventions and processes with extensive potentialities for application, such as laser technology, chip technology, and DNA recombinant technology, and the applications of such technologies within existing or new machines and production processes.

2. Technology as a term which refers to human activities in connection with the utilization of artefacts. Moreover, technology implies the knowledge requisite to use these technical things. "Technological 'things' are meaningless without the 'know-how' to use them, repair them, design them and make them. As such this know-how can, partly at least, ... be systematized and taught, as in the various disciplines of engineering." 9

3. Finally, "technology" may refer to a body of knowledge that is necessary to generate new rules for the design, construction, and application of technical possibilities to different types of problems (such as, for example, the control of environmental pollution). Here the term technology refers to the theory of the application (logia), not just to "artificial things," the ways in which they are used in practice and the transmission of this practical knowledge ("technics": German, die Technik; French, la technique) as is emphasized in the first and second meaning of the concept "technology."

It could be observed that in the third meaning the development of "software" is stressed, in contradistinction to the "hardware" side of technology that predominates in the first two meanings of technology. Moreover, it is evident that when the third meaning of technology predominates, the distinction between "science" and "technology" tends to fade away. This is shown in Bell's analysis of post-industrial society when he says that "What has become decisive for the organization of decisions and the direction of change is the centrality of theoretical knowledge - the primacy of theory over empiricism and the codification of knowledge into abstract systems of symbols that, as in any axiomatic system, can be used to illuminate many different and varied areas of experience."10

Bell points to the importance of the rise of new intellectual technologies, enabling the management of organized complexity - the complexity of large organizations and systems, the complexity of theory with a large number of variables - and the identification and implementation of strategies for rational choice in games against nature and games between persons. Bell argues that "by the end of the century [a new intellectual technology] may be as salient in human affairs as machine technology has been for the past century and a half." 11

It follows from what has been said thus far that in the third meaning of technology not only does the distinction between "science" and "technology" become blurred, but also that this meaning is strongly associated with a new, emerging mode of production in which these intellectual technologies play a pivotal role. As such, the third meaning of technology goes together with specific types of artefacts (hardware) and a specific way in which the hardware of production has been laid out in a factory or other place of work. This implies, as Hill observes, "the division of labour and work organization which is built into, or required for efficient operation by the productive technique." 12 Habermas, approaching Bell's encompassing delineation of technology, states that technology means "scientifically rationalised control of objectified processes. It refers to the system in which research and technology are coupled with feedback from the economy and the administration." 13 In this context it should be remembered that the division of labour and work organization is not to be regarded as the inescapable result of the "logic" of "technology" - as is often argued - but as the result of engineering and management decisions.

This is an important observation because it means that in the debate on the relationships between technological changes and human rights we need not restrict ourselves to questions of whether the "inevitable march of technology" makes it urgent to develop measures to protect people in those cases where their fundamental rights and liberties are at stake. We can also concentrate on the values upon which decisions concerning technological developments and applications are based and on the desirability of enhancing the quality of such decisions in line with human rights. Such thinking is extremely important for many - if not all - developing countries because it highlights the role of choice and of cultural diversity in the process of economic development.

In this section we have briefly discussed some definitions of the concept of "technology." We have shown that the term is used in different ways, varying from the references to material things or artefacts to systems of control embracing complex societal processes. Moreover, the definition of the concept of "technology" is also dependent on the type of society that is being considered (e.g. pre-industrial, industrial, post-industrial). We conclude from this overview that it is necessary, when we are analysing the different ideas and models concerning societal development and technological change, to be alert to indications of altering relationships between technological change and societal change (or even societal transformation).

The origins of the western technological culture

Discussing the impact of technology on human rights is primarily a debate about the impact of Western science and technology on such rights. Before introducing the dominant model of Western development, in which science and technology have played such a pivotal and unique role since the eighteenth century, it is useful to reflect on the reason why this specific type of development took place in the West. Of course, this question cannot be answered in a systematic way, but we shall try to formulate some arguments which may contribute to a better understanding of the social and cultural circumstances which contributed to the genesis of Western technology.

An important element in the explanation of the rise of Western technology relates to the subordination of nature in the Jewish and Christian religions. This point was formulated in an original way by Archbishop Temple when he said: "Christianity is the most materialistic of all higher religions, for while they attain to spirituality by turning away from matter, it expresses its spirituality by dominating matter.'' 14 The thesis concerning the subordination of nature as a necessary precondition to the modern dynamic pursuit of technical progress seems to be generally accepted by theology, according to van der Pot.15 It relates to the view that in the Judeao-Christian religions God is conceived as being on the side of humans in the struggle between human beings and nature. This view is, in its turn, tied to the idea that God created the world - so the world itself is not God and is not to be considered to be sacred. It is tied also to the idea that God created man in his own image and elevated him above all other creatures on earth, giving him the right, so to speak, to intervene in the course of events on earth. In contradistinction to most other religious systems, the Judeao-Christian beliefs do not contain inhibitions on the control of nature by man. According to Max Weber, Christianity inherited its hostility against magical thinking from Judaism. This opened the road to important economic achievements, for magical ideas place a heavy constraint on the rationalization of economic life.16 With the coming of ascetic Protestantism this demystification of the world attained its completion.

This lack of deference towards the limits of the "natural" order was accompanied by an absence of disdain for activities directed at practical utility, as was, for example, certainly the case in ancient Greek culture.

Van der Pot concludes, after a systematic analysis of many theological, historical, and sociological sources, that Christianity contributed significantly to the origin of the modern dynamic push towards technological change, by the subordination of nature, by contributing to a hopeful attitude towards the future, and by reacting with approval to work that is directed at practical utility.17 All this had already exerted important influences on technological development in the West long before the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century.

There were major applications of technological innovations during a long period preceding this revolution. In the thirteenth century a first "industrial revolution" took place. Many of the innovations then made, such as the watermill, came from outside Western Europe but the Western Europeans showed keen judgement in assessing the opportunities for their application. Necessity was not the major drive behind this technological trend, but, according to van der Pot, the idea that human beings are creatures of God and must not be humiliated by continuing monotonous labour.18 Here we witness an important contribution of technology as provider of opportunities for the liberation of human beings from labour and for the reduction of their dependence on natural conditions.

Religious and political diversity also created conditions that contributed to the emergence of modern science and technology since the sixteenth century. The ongoing struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and the secular powers within Europe, and the fact that neither church nor state succeeded in definitely imposing its will on the other, resulted in a demarcation between the secular and the sacral powers as in the Concordat of Worms in 1122. This facilitated the development of a rational type of control by the state. The emergence of modern bureaucracy, as described by Weber, contributed in the course of Western history to the secularization of the world. Moreover, the religious wars, connected with the rise of Protestantism, broke the religious monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church and gave a strong impetus to modern science and technology, especially in Protestant modernizing nations, such as England and the Netherlands in the seventeenth century.

What has been said in the preceding pages concerning the origin of Western science and technology is certainly not sufficient to give an adequate account of these developments. The analysis of Dijksterhuis shows us, in his The Mechanization of the Image of the World (De mechanisering van het wereldbeeld),19 the long line of development of the natural sciences. This led to the emergence of modern natural sciences in the period between 1543, when Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, and 1687, when Newton's Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica was published. This period represents an enormous advance of human knowledge and opportunity, and changes deeply the dominant view of life. This period determined the course of the natural sciences for centuries to come, based on a mechanistic image of material processes. This was not to be conceived of as a complex machine designed by the Creator, but as processes which can be understood by applying the concepts of mechanics: the physics and mathematics of energy and forces. Only the West witnessed the development of such a conception of science based both on rationality (especially mathematics) and systematic observation (especially controlled experiments).20

In this section we have described some elements of the origin of Western science and technology. The development of a mechanistic image of the (material) world, in connection with the social and cultural processes we referred to earlier, led to the advent of the technical culture we live in today, in the West and many other parts of the world.

In the following section we describe the model of societal development that arose in the eighteenth century, a model that is fundamental to understanding the impact of science and technology on social life and on human rights. When presenting this model we will have opportunities to elaborate on the relationship between science and technology and to discuss the link between technological-economic development on the one hand and individualism. secularization, and human rights on the other.

Enlightenment, the open industrial society, and human rights

In the preceding section we have offered a brief description of some developments in Western Europe that gave rise to the Enlightenment, in which scientific positivism played such a pivotal role. The Enlightenment made a profound impact on both the industrial development of Western Europe - also causing the sharp opposition between tradition and modernity - and on the development of the idea of human rights. As Herrera put it succinctly,

For Enlightenment, all things in nature are disposed in harmonious order, regulated by a few simple laws, in such a way that everything contributes to the equilibrium of the Universe. The same rational order is the basis of the human world and manifests itself through the instincts and tendencies of men. The main obstacle to this linear unending human progress is, for the Enlightenment, ignorance and the education of all strata of society in the light of reason and science will finally lead to a perfect and happy society.21

Indeed, the rational analysis of the physical and social world will gradually show many ideas of the established traditional order to be errors, which will be replaced by scientific truth. Moreover, in connection with these ideas, a new type of society evolved and conscious attempts were made to change political and social orders in the direction of a "rational society." It was, as Eisenstadt phrased it, the birth of "the civilization of modernity," which is, among other things, characterized by growing structural differentiation and specialization, the establishment of universalistic organizational frameworks, and the articulation of relatively open, non-traditional systems of stratification and mobility in which criteria of achievement are dominant.22

The rise of this industrial, open society, based on a specific set of values of the Enlightenment, is closely connected to the birth of human rights. Although the idea of human rights has deep historical roots - and not exclusively in the Western world -human rights, as formulated in documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, are very much the product of both the Enlightenment and the rise of industrial society. As such the concept of human rights is strongly associated with individualism, rationalism, and universalism. Dumont states that the adoption of the Declaration marks in a certain sense the triumph of the individual.23

Because of the great importance of the connection between the rise of industrial society and the birth of human rights for our understanding of the present-day debate concerning the impact of technology on human rights, we will say a little more about this link. Some observers assume a causal link between human rights and the rise of an industrial, individualized society that is based on contractual relationships. So Sorokin states that human rights play a more prominent role in societies characterized by a high frequency of individual social mobility than in stable, closed societies. Mobility facilitates an increase of individualism, because it destroys the seclusion of life in one social niche, as is typical in a traditional society. In Sorokin's words,

Mobility awakens his personality, transforms him from the component of a group to an individual person. As he is shifting from group to group, he must now receive rights and privileges for himself, not for a specific group, because he himself does not know in what group he will be tomorrow. Hence the "Declaration of the Rights of Man," but not that of a group, the demands for liberty of speech, religion, self-realisation for a man, not for a group Hence the equality of all individuals before the law, and individual responsibility instead of that of a group, as in the case of an immobile society. A mobile society inevitably must "invest" all rights and responsibilities in an individual but not in a group.24

This seems to be a rather restricted view of the origin of human rights. Are these rights - as liberties - primarily a functional alternative in a modern world, for the security that is provided in an organic way within traditional structures? In European history we can observe several periods which bear witness to the disintegration of established social structures and the concomitant rise of individualism - for example, the period after the downfall of the Greek city-states and the Renaissance period in which the individual emerged from the communal order of the Middle Ages - without the development of a concept of human rights that is comparable to the concept as it emerged in the eighteenth century.

In the historical documents to which we referred earlier, the idea of human rights is associated with a very positive image of individualism. In the period when these documents were being produced, individualism was considered by many advocates of social change to be a pivotal characteristic of the emerging social order. It referred not only to respect for the intrinsic value or dignity of the individual human being in relation to privacy, but also to individual autonomy, the capacity of the individual to think independently, to decide for himself or herself, to control the conditions under which he - or she - lived and worked. As such, autonomy was - and is - the reverse of alienation and powerlessness. The coming social order was contrasted with the traditional order of feudal society in which an individual's opportunities in life were strongly determined by his or her position in the social order, based on birth, and the rights to which his or her estate entitled the individual.

The emerging social order was interpreted in terms of social progress, development in the direction of a better society, in which the position of every person is based, ideally, on individual qualifications and achievements, and on his or her position within a new division of labour. In this new ordering, everybody contributes according to his or her talents or skills and receives a remuneration according to the (market) value of this contribution. The development in this direction was thought to be contingent on the rise of industrial society, in which economic growth is dependent on industrial production, propelled by science and technology. It is dependent on the development of open, worldwide markets and on the adequate use of individual talents. This image of society implies increased individual occupational and social mobility together with a growing equality of educational opportunities, a fading away of traditional class differences, a concomitant growth of the middle classes as a consequence of the increasing demand for skilled and professional workers, and, consequently, a decrease in collective types of antagonism, especially class struggle. It is important to note that in this perspective of societal development, the exigencies of industrialization will generate everywhere - in the long run - this same type of social order, which will finally merge into an encompassing world system.

This connection between the birth of human rights and the rise of a new liberal, democratic order produced consequences for the contents of human rights as individual, universal rights. The origin of human rights, and the subsequent development of socio-economic rights, shed some light on the model of man that is traditionally associated with those who favour civil rights. This model is, as Campbell says, of a person somewhat beyond the "norm" in the sense of the normal: an active, rational, and entrepreneurial person for whom the life which is claimed is one in which there is a degree of self-expression, self-help, and self-defence. It is of a person who has the opportunity to have and manage property, to communicate views and pursue happiness along individually chosen lines, to share in government and freely go about day-to-day activities without the interference of officials and prohibitions of the state beyond those strictly necessary for the defence of the rights of others.25

Human rights are, as we explained, tied to an individualistic view of society and man. In this view individualism is combined with rationalism, universalism, and cosmopolitanism, and as such they stand in opposition to particularism, collectivism, and traditionalism. Human rights refer to the individual and are beyond his or her particular social relationships or roots. This primacy of reason, universalism, and the individual over the group appears to be essential in solving problems related to human rights as it develops in international law today.26

The enlightenment model of industrial development

In order to pursue our analysis of the relationship of technological development and human rights we have to elaborate on the model of development that is connected with the Enlightenment and the rise of industrial society. This is particularly important because this model of development still plays a dominant role in the thinking of many leaders in the domain of (post) industrial development. Our description of the Enlightenment model of industrial development will be, perforce, of an ideal, typical or constructed in the Weberian sense. This model was for the first time formulated in a coherent way by Saint-Simon at the very beginning of the nineteenth century.

Saint-Simon was convinced that the progress of industrialism would exert a far-reaching and overwhelmingly positive impact on society. In the final analysis, he thought, it is in industry that all the real forces of society can be found. A social order adapted to the requirements of modern industry and its technical development is the best ordering of society, and scientists will have a decisive position of power within it. This model of development has become known in modern economics and sociology as the "industrial convergence thesis" (other appellations being "technological functionalism" and "technological imperialism") and is, as we have already remarked, still a powerful model of development.27

In this model, two main forces determine the development of society:

1. The march of rationality, resulting from the inquiring human mind that follows the rules of positivist - logico-empirical - science, while analysing the physical and social world (see pp. 18-22 above) in the pursuit of truth. Moreover, this leads to the development of new technologies, which are partly at least - applications of the growth of knowledge.

2. The open international large-scale markets which compel industry to adopt quickly the best available technology in production processes. Failure to do so by an enterprise or branch of industry would result in quick deterioration of its international competitive position. The general idea is that of all the available technologies only one can be the most efficient and effective. Relative benefits will flow to that entity which succeeds in developing new technologies or in acquiring the most efficient and effective technologies at an early stage. This is, in fact, technological Darwinism: the survival of the fittest technology.

It is, however, not only the adoption of the best technology that counts, but also the successful combination of (new) technologies with the best type of organization of both the production process and the trading company or system of companies. In connection with particular types of technology, the argument runs, there is also only one type of organization which is the most efficient and effective.

Furthermore, it follows from what we have said that a specific combination of technology and organization determines the nature of the division of labour. This, in turn, determines the job requirements with which workers are confronted, requirements relating to the content of available jobs, working relations, working conditions, the organization's hierarchy, and opportunities for advancement in the organization. This model implies that the advancement of industrialism is, in modern times, strongly dependent on the educational system that has to provide individuals with the abilities and skills that meet the require meets of the economic system. The educational system has to educate and train persons both for the scientific and technological high culture - the persons who will contribute to the advancement of science and technology and fill management positions - and for the many other jobs on which a modern organization depends. Although part of the training and research and development occur within modern enterprises, the economy of a country is highly dependent on the rational organization of higher education and research and on the effectiveness of this system in fulfilling the needs of the economy. The role of the state in the process of adapting the educational and research system to these needs is an important one. The state is also very important in relation to another task: the redistribution of part of the national wealth by the agencies of the welfare state. This function of the state tends to contribute to the reduction of class conflict - a conflict which hampers the efficient and effective production of goods and services. It also enhances the capacity of citizens to play their role in the consumer market.

Industrialism has, in this way, a logic of its own, "whether under capitalism or socialism or other auspices. Much of what happens to management and to labour is the same regardless of auspices."28 Indeed, the most powerful engine of production is knowledge: "Industrialization itself began with new knowledge about steam and machinery. This is where the 'greet transformation' began." 29

This logic of industrialism implies that social life can only adapt to the deterministic line that has been described above. But this is not considered to be a disadvantage. By the march of rationality and the rationalization of economic and social life, society is pushed towards a better future. It achieves a high level of welfare and a lower degree of social inequality. Such social inequality as remains is based on differences between individual levels of achievement. There is also a strong professionalization of the workforce as a consequence of the great need for highly qualified staff in a science- and "high-tech"-based organization for the production of goods and services. Society has to adapt to this line of development, but the pay-offs are considered to be very high.

It is evident that the universalism on which the model is based contrasts with the cultural and social diversity of the world in which the industrial - and post-industrial -development take place. According to the logic of this model all of the social institutions and cultural differences that hamper the logic of industrial development are doomed. Social and cultural differences between nations, regions, and peoples continue to exist only as long as they do not stand in the way of progress or when they contribute to a nation's specific advantage, for example when traditional values help to discipline the workforce and to comply with the exigencies of organizational change.

The relationship between technological development and human rights is, within this model, not considered to be problematic. On the contrary, the way of industrialism leads to the liberation of man from traditional and limiting social and cultural bonds and thus from bondage and ignorance. Industrial development reduces class antagonism and depression by the state; it enhances opportunities for individual choice; it provides the opportunities for democratic participation and for the development of socio-economic rights. The model is also optimistic with respect to the possibilities for the solution of problems in the future, including those problems that are caused by industrial development itself. This optimism is, of course, grounded on the confidence that logico-empirical science will always find new opportunities and technologies to handle present and future problems.

A critical analysis of the enlightenment model of industrial development (technological imperialism)

The model of development described above is, as observed earlier, still dominant in the thinking of many innovating elites in modern industrial societies. It will also continue to be so in future decades, as it correctly describes tendencies that can be observed in the actual development of industrial societies. It is therefore worth while to have a closer look at the assumptions on which this model is based.

As will be apparent from our description of the industrialist model of development, the origin of scientific discoveries and technological innovations does not need to be explained by factors other than the inquisitive mind, following the rules of positivist science. Society has just to wait and see what comes out of these processes of discovery and to adapt to their results. There are no other possibilities for controlling this "march of rationality" than the control exercised by scientists and technologists themselves. They do not control the direction of scientific development but must see to it that their fellow scientists abid by the tenets of logico-empirical science. The development of science and of new technologies based on these scientific developments is as such not determined by human needs. In fact, the logic of the model implies that societal development is a process of reduction of human subjectivity by rational calculation. Control over men and things is secured by substituting technological rationality for human desires and needs when organizing any activity. "Subjectivity" is subordinated to "objectivity." An important consequence of this development is that "technology tends to shape the user and not simply in ways suggested by cultural materialism, specifically, technology shapes the user as it alters society's paradigms" 30 (for example, by replacing social relationships by technically determined links).

The uses of technology in this model of development stand in sharp contrast to the utilization of technical tools in the pre-industrial period. While all societies developed technologies to cope with the problems of their existence, it is only in the West that a model of development is applied in which human beings are systematically brought under the yoke of technology and in which most energy is invested in the improvement of technologies and technological systems, rather than the improvement of craftsmanship for its own sake. In other systems technologies may be used in accordance with the standards of craftsmanship of those who apply them but who compensate, by their skill, for any deficiency in the tools they use when accomplishing these productive tasks.

Ellul described very aptly this difference between pre-industrial and industrial technology:

Technical progress today is no longer conditioned by anything other than its own calculus of efficiency. The search is no longer personal, experimental, workmanlike; it is abstract, mathematical, and industrial.... The individual participates only to the degree that he is subordinate to the search for efficiency, to the degree that he resists all the currents today considered secondary, such as aesthetics, ethics, fantasy In so far as the individual represents this abstract tendency, he is permitted to participate in technical creation...' 31

In the next section we will discuss whether this statement also applies to "post-industrial technology." At this point it is important to note that the Enlightenment model of industrialism is based on a cluster of values - the "technological culture" or the "culture of rationality" - that comprises universalism, instrumental rationality (Zweck-Rationalität, in the Weberian sense), calculability of processes and outcomes, control, efficiency, effectiveness or efficacy, contract relationships, materialism, economic growth as the primary source of welfare, individualism, and individual remuneration (primarily material remuneration).

This march of rationality that is the basis of industrial development promises, as we have seen, the liberation of individuals from traditional bonds and an increase of individual autonomy. Although the coming of Western industrial society went hand in hand with the development of citizenship for all, a strong increase in welfare and opportunities to conduct one's life according to one's own preferences, it is also true that this industrial society did reduce many opportunities for workers. Historically, the coming of industrial society was accompanied by strong resistance by artisans who provided small-scale, custom-oriented local markets with their goods and services and who feared the replacement of their craft by factories. Calhoun shows in his analysis of the south-east Lancashire textile region that it was such workers who were at the base of revolutionary movements at the beginning of the nineteenth century, rather than the mass of unskilled factory workers who had been in most cases unskilled agricultural workers before entering the factories.32

It is certainly true that the further development of industrial society provided many opportunities for individual advancement, especially at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century, as a consequence of the enlargement in scale of organizations and the accompanying increase in complexity of production processes and market relations. In this period we witness an increase of upward social (occupational) mobility in all of the industrialized countries. But we also notice that the ongoing rationalization of economic life tends to reduce, in many instances, the autonomy of both blue- and white-collar workers and tends to contribute to an increase in long-term unemployment. These trends are reflected in the present-day debate, whether the long-term development of jobs is connected with gradual degradation of the work content or with the polarization which occurs when a few types of jobs are upgraded while the mass of jobs loses qualities considered to be rewarding or attractive to those performing them.

All this is, of course, related to the right to work and to the idea that man does not work for bread alone, but also wishes to be a creative, autonomous worker. The future of work is, however, rather uncertain in this respect. Those in particular who accept as valid the industrial model of development that we have presented view the march of rationality as unavoidable. They are inclined to regard the reduction of the tension between determinism and autonomy as associated with a future which is not so far away, wherein there will be no jobs in the present sense. The Polish philosopher Schaff expresses it in the following way:

This will be a great achievement of science and technology as it will put an end to the Biblical Jehovah's curse that man has to cat bread in the sweat of his brow. But this revolution - for it is the most deep-reaching social revolution we can imagine - which reopens the gates of paradise to man, implies problems which, if left unsolved, may be much worse than the old curse of the Maker who became angry with his creation.33

This is only one of the many points of view which can be discerned with respect to technology and the future of work. We will return to this problem after our analysis of the theoretical reactions to the Enlightenment model of industrialism and to the technological determinism this implies. Before doing so, we have to make some remarks about the Enlightenment, the advent and development of industrial society, and the development of the social sciences.

The development of the social sciences and the reactions to the social and cultural effects of the Enlightenment and industrial development contain some explanations for the puzzling fact that the impact of technology on human rights has only recently become a topic for scientific analysis. We have pointed out that the Enlightenment and industrialism are closely connected when we look at their common pattern of values and also that human rights as individual liberties are imbued with "rationalism," "individualism," "universalism," and "cosmopolitanism." Already in the eighteenth century this modernization trend was criticized severely, among others by Herder, who introduced in 1774 the idea of Volksgeist, a concept that emphasizes the uniqueness of peoples and cultures. He rejected the idea of universal, timeless principles concerning, for example, Truth, Justice, Beauty. He argued that all norms originate within a specific cultural context and are dependent on this cultural context for their further development.34


Since the advent of industrialism we have witnessed a continuous conflict between the emerging new society and the "universal" values it represents on the one hand, and the varied types of social life and their values which are threatened by modernization on the other. This opposition is strongly set out in such studies, published at the end of the nineteenth century, as Tonnies' Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Society, 1887) and Le Play's Les ouvriers européens (European Workers, 1885).

Until the present time this opposition has been reflected - and this has not yet been overcome - in the rift in the West between positivist social sciences standing in the tradition of the Enlightenment, and the historicist tradition related to Romanticism, in which Truth is not the "work of reason - emancipated from all forms of unreason like emotions and partnership," but an understanding that can be made compelling only for a time, even with the best available methods.35 This is not to say that this rift is the only important one in the social sciences, but it is a very basic one in the context of the divide between methodological, individualistic, and structuralist approaches.36 These oppositions have also important consequences in our time for policy implementation in the social sciences and for the interpretation of the development of human rights.

It is necessary to make the observation that the social sciences have not analysed in a serious way the development of technology since the coming of the industrial society. Within the positivist tradition the social sciences could only, logically, restrict their analyses to the social and cultural consequences of science and technology. The social sciences could not claim, and still cannot claim, within this approach to be sciences with a methodology that enables them to evaluate the rationality of the natural sciences. Nor did the social sciences which were opposing the tenets of positivist science analyse the nature of technological development as such, but restricted themselves largely to the analysis of nonindustrial ways of life, including ways of life which were being threatened by industrialism. Still another bias may be discerned within the social sciences. As a consequence of the fact that industrial development primarily touched the lives of workers and their families, an overwhelming part of the attention of the social sciences has been directed to the analysis of the impact of technological change on the division of labour in the production processes, on workers' behaviour and attitudes, and on changes in the class structure of society.

There has been a neglect of the study of:

(1) the societal and cultural conditions of technological development and technological applications;

(2) the nature of technological development themselves, such as the analysis of the socio-political factors which impinge on the selection of technological trajectories;

(3) the nature and types of new technologies introduced within organizations (in which ways are new technologies selected, by whom, how are they introduced, and with what consequences?);

(4) the opportunities that are provided by the different options in the process of implementation of new technologies with respect to human dignity, human rights, and collective or solidarity rights;

(5) the consequence of the contemporary systematic character of technological developments and the increasing intertwining of technological and societal systems;

(6) the significance of technological developments in everyday life (for example, the changing patterns of social relations in the family as a consequence of technological innovations, or how people deal with the new, often imposed, choices produced by technological change).

The rather one-sided views on the relationships between technological development and societal change, in which the problem is largely restricted to either adaptation of social life to technological exigencies or to the protection of ways of life against the attacks of an aggressive technological culture ("modernity" versus "cultural identity"), have not only hampered - and still hamper - the actual systematic analysis of technological development in the Western industrial countries, but are also clearly present in the debate on the impact of technology on developing countries. However, we must be aware of the fact that

Science and technology are not independent variables in the process of development: they are part of a human, economic, social and cultural setting shaped by history. It is this setting above all which determines the chances of applying scientific knowledge that meets the real needs of the country. It is not the case that there are two systems -science and technology on one side and society on the other - held together by some magic. Rather, science and technology exist in a given society as a system that is more or less capable of osmosis, assimilation and innovation - or rejection -according to realities that are simultaneously material, historical, cultural and political.37

From this statement it follows that one cannot, at the same time, introduce Western technological changes in a specific country and avoid changes in the traditional ways of life. This is impossible because technological changes are part of a technological system that includes a broad technological culture base and specific, often implicit, notions of social relations. In the context it is perhaps useful to refer to our discussion of the concept of technology that comprises artefacts, the know-how to design, use, and repair them, and the body of knowledge necessary to generate new rules for the design, construction, and application of technological potentialities in relation to different types of problems (pp. 15-17 above). Moreover, the increasingly global character of modern technology makes it impossible to think about these problems in terms of "nations." Technological systems are in many instances quickly developing as transnational information systems.

The conclusion must be that there is no way back on the road that has been taken by Western technologies and by the Western countries since the eighteenth century. There will not be opportunities to hide from this worldwide development and to protect such cultural diversity as still exists against technological change. But it is also true that within this general direction of development, choices can be made which may engender new types of diversity and reinterpretations of traditional cultural differences. But such a policy must be based, as we shall see, on a careful analysis of the nature of technological-social constraints in development processes and of the opportunities to choose.

Models of development and the technological factor

Until now we have described the Enlightenment model of development (industrialism) and discussed the consequences of the technological deterministic view of development that this powerful model still implies. We now turn to:

(1) some other theoretical models of development which have been presented largely in opposition to the Enlightenment model of industrialism; and

(2) contemporary efforts to understand the societal changes of the post-industrial stage.

Looking at the major models of development that were formulated at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, models that still have an impact on present-day thinking, we discern some models which resemble the industrial convergence model that has already been presented.

In the first place we refer to the Marxist model of development, which views capitalist society as a class society that will in due time be replaced by a socialist one. This model is rather similar to the industrial convergence model and in fact it is based on the same assumption concerning the basic deterministic role in the development of science and technology (productive forces). But instead of adopting a gradualist view of societal development, the model postulates the importance of revolutionary change and the pivotal role of class struggle, rooted in the conflict between productive forces such as technology and the existing relationships of production. In this model societal changes are regarded primarily as effects of changes of technology and the concomitant reorganizations of the economy. Marx himself rejected at least part of the human rights laid down in the Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, which he regarded as liberal rights based on a false concept of the nature of man. Marx stressed the importance of the social nature of man and of the priority of socio-economic rights in a world in which sharp socio-economic inequalities prevail. Marxism neglected to develop its own theoretical basis of this concept of human rights.38

Our third model of societal change is the reformist one, which contests the interpretations of the above-mentioned models. In the reformist model the disruptive consequences of industrial development are regarded as a major ailment of industrial development. At the same time class struggle is seen as an abnor mal phenomenon, resulting from the lack of social integration, not as the crux of the process of change. This model represents Durkheim's view on industrial society. In Durkheim's conception of social life, individuals can realize themselves thanks to the increasing division of labour that allows them to develop their individual talents. But individualism and individual freedom are, in Durkheim's view, always connected with his conception of society as a moral order. The individual is "free" in some respects because he is part of that moral order.39 So Durkheim's individualism is diametrically opposed to the liberal conception that states that individuals are primarily motivated by self-interest to establish contractual relationships and that social life emerges from individual interactions. In contradistinction to this conception, Durkheim pointed out that human beings participate in a collective conscience, which embraces concepts about the nature of the social order and of the relationships between men, a conscience that is the product of a long historical process.40

The industrial development of society, especially when the pace of change is high, produces, as Durkheim observed, disruptive consequences for society, because the processes of differentiation within the social order, brought about by this industrial development, destroy the basis of society's solidarity. Uncontrolled industrial development gives rise to an anomie division of labour, a pathological condition of society that arises when the processes of differentiation are not sufficiently counteracted by forces in society that coordinate or integrate social processes in a well-balanced order. However, this pathological condition of society, caused by industrial development, may be remedied or prevented by a better organization of societal relationships, a goal to which both professional organizations and the state -as society's main coordinating agency - would have to contribute in concerted action. In this context, the educational system has to contribute to a population's consciousness of the moral nature of society by giving its members a deeper insight into the nature of society as a phenomenon sui generis and of the dependency on this order of every individual.

In Western industrial countries this model of development has been - and still is -quite influential (e.g. in Parsonian functionalism). The model is attractive because it not only offers an analysis of processes of change, but also opens the road to interventions by the state to redress non-desirable effects of industrial development. This was in fact the case during the Great Depression, when functionalism played an important role in the New Deal programme in the USA. This model also contributed to the development of the Western welfare states.

This reformist model of development, like the other two models presented so far, concentrates on the impact of industrial (technological) development on society. However, it does not lead to an analysis of the technological factor as such. The objects of analysis are the processes of adaptation of society and culture to the exigencies of industrial development or the opportunities that may facilitate this adaptation. None of the three models leads to an analysis of the impact of technology as such on human rights. In fact, this holds true not only for human rights. All of the models of development presented thus far have their roots in the Enlightenment. The emphasis on the of the scientific-technological processes within our technological culture has produced a division of labour in which the social and human sciences restrict themselves in great measure, as we argued before, to the consequences of technological change and to the ways in which societies adjust themselves to such technological impacts.

Moreover, the three models have in common an evolutionary view of society's development and all of them place a strong emphasis on development from within. "Societies," "class systems," "techno-structures," and "states" are considered primarily as closed systems which develop as a consequence of internal mechanisms and their dynamics (e.g. technological development and class struggle) or as a consequence of external influences impinging on a system and forcing it to mobilize its resources in order to establish a new equilibrium. The models tend to pay attention neither to changing interrelationships between societies, or, more generally, between systems, nor to treat them adequately as relatively open systems with changing boundaries.

We pass over a fourth model, Pareto's model of societal change as a cyclical process, a model that leads neither to the analysis of technology nor to an examination of its impact on human rights (human rights are treated in a cynical way as being ideological veils of interest groups).41

We turn next to the most important non-industrial approach of this period, the still very influential approach of Weber. Weber did not start with the analysis of the consequences of industrialism, but highlights more remote origins of modern social transformations by going back to the historical conditions within Europe that were conducive to the rise of a bureaucratic or rational way of controlling human interactions. These specific historical conditions, related to the separation of secular and spiritual powers and the ongoing rivalry between them, contributed to the development by trained lawyers of a formal and rational juridical system. They introduced the authority of secular juridical norms binding on all subjects. With the victory of formal juridical rationalism, legal authority came into existence in Western societies, alongside the older types of authorities, such as traditional and charismatic types. The most important variant of legal authority was (and still is) the bureaucratic one.

The development of this model of legal authority was a necessary condition in the West for the later development of an economic order based on rational management of private enterprises and on accurate calculations. Only the West had at its disposal such a complete, formal juridical system as a model of administration that could be used in economic development.42

This development has been of paramount importance to the specific relationships between science, technology, and economy in the West. Science and technology have strongly determined economic development. The sciences - especially the exact and empirical sciences - did not have their origin in capitalist market conditions, though the technological applications of scientific knowledge have been strongly influenced by economic stimuli. In this process formal law too played an important role, according to Weber, and so did the rise of a practical-rational way of life and of a new Wirtschaftgesinnung or economic thinking. Weber's great contribution was to make explicit the importance of the affinity between economic ethics and the rational ethics of ascetic Protestantism in the development of Western capitalism.

These brief references to Weber's approach show some essential differences between this approach and those of the industrialists. While the later (the first three models) and their followers like Veblen, Ogburn, Bell, and Kerr43 tended to accentuate the consequences of technological change, Weber's approach attracted little attention in the field of research on technology and society. There arc, however, some important contributions, such as Merton's,44 involving an approach which leads logically to the systematic analysis of the impact of society and culture on scientific and technological developments.

Development, choice, and human rights

We have presented the main models of development not for historical reasons, but because contemporary prevailing ideas about societal development and goals of development are derived from them. It is an uneasy heritage because these models of development in their present-day appearance fail to offer adequate explanations of current social changes. Nor do they give us a frame of reference that enables us to analyse the interrelationship between technological change and human rights and their development and implementation.

This uneasy heritage hampers an adequate understanding of what is happening in this domain. Increasingly, the social scientists are reacting critically to this heritage Among them is Tilly, who advises us, referring especially to Durkheim's legacy, to shrug off the nineteenth-century "incubus." 45

The reasons for the reassessment of these development models stem from different sources:

1. A growing concern over the direction in which industrial societies (or the industrial system) are (is) developing. Technical systems, especially information systems, are penetrating modern societies in all spheres of life in such a way that technological systems and social structures have become inextricable. Moreover, the adaptation of society to the impact of technology certainly does not exclude the rise of a societal type in which alienation prevails. It's also confronted with serious, massive, and undesirable long-term effects of unplanned technological development.

In many cases policy makers and opinion leaders in developing countries, looking at the direction in which advanced societies are moving, wonder whether major consequences, which are considered by them to be negative with respect to their ways of life, can be avoided.

2. A growing awareness of the ideological character of the industrialist developmental models. They express a specific pattern of values that supports the endeavours of specific managerial and technological elites.

3. A hopeful prospect that the development of post-industrial technological developments, especially of information technology, brings new possibilities for choice in its wake. While admitting that industrial development thus far did have unavoidable social consequences, this determinism is weakened by the fact that (as Gershuny summarizes this debate on the malleable society)

(a) increasing wealth means less unrequited need for goods to satisfy basic needs;

(b) as technologies develop, advantages of scale accrue to increasingly small productive units;

(c) technologies are no longer scarce. Instead of social shortcomings demanding technical solutions, we now often find, according to Gershuny, multiple technologies chasing scarce applications; and

(d) the development of new "control" technologies may be a substitute for some of the earlier determining factors. "Improvements in transport, telecommunications and data handling may produce the opportunities for different types or uses of organization." 46 Among these may be the facilitation of worker participation.

4. The above-mentioned sources have given a new impetus, in the late 1960s and onward, to a critical reconsideration of industrial development. This gave birth to numerous efforts to formulate new models or "paradigms" of development, such as those of Etzioni, Eisenstadt, Habermas, Giddens, and Touraine.47 All of these authors emphasize the significance of choice, of opportunities to direct change in a planned direction, and of the pivotal role of (collective) meanings or values in societal development.

5. Finally, since the 1970s, empirical research directed at the analysis of the linkages between (new) technologies and types of organizations has shown that the tenets of technological determinism do not stand a systematic empirical test. We will return to these research results afterwards. Moreover, the rise of Japan, as the first industrial nation outside the Western world, and its avoidance of many of the disrupting consequences - at least for the time being - of industrialization in Western societies, has also contributed to the reconsideration of the Western industrial models of development.

Technological determinism is under attack, and so are models of development that are based on social determinism. Sometimes we meet in the literature advocates of extreme voluntarism who push aside all factors which restrain our choices, maintaining that we are free to build our society according to our wishes: everything is considered to be "political" and to depend on the choices we make as political communities. This is certainly not an attractive approach, because in actual life we meet numerous constraints. We have to analyse the nature and variety of constraints and social life (technical, political, social, cultural, etc.) and to look systematically for opportunities for choice. But once we admit that we have choices which reach further than adaptation to the "inevitable march of technology," we are confronted with a compelling question: How do we decide on a specific course of action? Which standards should play a role in the decision-making processes? It is quite evident that, once we are confronted with opportunities to select from courses of action connected with the development and application of new technologies, human rights comes to the fore.

In order to indicate as clearly as possible the emerging ideas concerning choice, we give a schematic representation of the industrialist model of development that subsequently will be broken down into its component elements (fig. 1). This schematic representation, working downstream from the individual inventors, represents the industrial model of development that has been described above (pp. 18-20, 22-27). Basically, it is a simple model. As Ogburn expressed it 50 years ago:

Changes are started by one institution which impinges on others, and those on still others. . . in the past in many important cases a change occurred first in the technology, which changed the economic institutions, which in turn changed the social and governmental organizations which finally changed the social beliefs and philosophics.48

This series is presented as a mechanical, causal chain.

Let us start our analysis with the links between T and O (TL) and then proceed by working down- and upstream. At every step we will ask questions which deal with the impact of technology on human rights.

Since the end of the 1970s several empirical and theoretical studies, dealing with the development of new technologies and their application to industrial production and services, have been published. In them it is shown that specific new technologies, such as CNC machines, may be accompanied by quite different types of organizations. In those studies, often of an international comparative nature, it is shown that specific social consequences of the introduction of new technologies are not primarily contingent on the nature of the technology itself, but on the organizational conceptions of the interest groups that decide on the introduction and the nature of the application of the technologies. International comparative research has, moreover, demonstrated that the same technologies may have different social consequences in different countries, depending on both the nature of institutional arrangements existing between relevant interest groups and the educational system. Important studies in this area are those of Maurice, Sellier and Silvestre, Gallie, Lutz, Kerna and Schumann, Dore, Smith, and the theoretical analysis of Winner and Hirschhorn.49

Although it is made clear that technological development theoretically opens up new options for social development, the prevailing institutionalized power relationships may prevent them from being used in ways other than those prescribed by the restricted logic of technological rationalization. Nevertheless, research in this domain has demonstrated, according to a five-point summary by Grootings, that

(1) technology itself is designed and introduced by people who, in doing so, try to realize their own interests;

(2) a given technology leaves room for different alternative organizational solutions;

(3) these solutions are the result of social relations between people that are, however, not always and everywhere based on domination;

(4) social actors are socialized by their environment, which also shapes the nature of their social relations;

(5) the impact of technological change depends on the aims and goals of its introduction, under both capitalist and socialist conditions.50

From this it follows that technological changes have a predictable impact on working relationships and on the content of jobs only as long as the innovators' minds are imprisoned in the deterministic model of industrialism. In this respect the West seems to be at a disadvantage in comparison with non-Western nations. This is because the Enlightenment model of development logically implies a great divide within modern organizations between the technological and managerial elites on the one hand and the mass of the blue- and white-collar workers on the other. The first category of members of an organization see themselves confronted with the task of transferring their (rational) knowledge to the "uninformed" workers.

K. Matsushita of the Matsushita Electric Company in Japan made this point very clear when he addressed a group of Western managers a few years ago:

We are going to win and the industrial West is going to lose: there is nothing much you can do about it because the reasons for your failure are within yourself ... With your bosses doing the thinking, while the workers wield the screwdrivers, you are convinced deep down that this is the right way to run a business.51

Matsushita states, in reference to this Western model, that the survival of firms is very hazardous in an environment which is increasingly unpredictable, competitive, and fraught with danger. Their continued existence depends on the day-to-day mobilization of all human resources. Management is then considered to be the art of mobilizing and pulling together the intellectual resources of all employees in the service of a firm. This type of management is clearly reflected in the organization's structure. Unlike comparable Western companies, the Japanese companies tend to carry out research, development, and the design of manufacturing processes concurrently so that knowledge from one area can readily influence decisions made in other areas. A new concept moves back and forth among the different groups until it is perfected. In most Western companies these processes are sequential: once a department has completed its task it is handed over to the next department.52

This flexibility with respect to the establishment of links between technology, the organization's structure, and the content of jobs is a very important issue both for new industrializing countries and for the industrialized world, as it shows that there is room for human choice and for innovations in the domain of human interactions. It shows also that centralized planning and the application of models from above are not the right ways to handle organizational problems. The a priori rationality of the Enlightenment model is not the right way to change reality; innovations can only be really effective when they are solidly linked up with the experience of all workers.53

The point is, however, whether these opportunities for choice will be used only with the goals of efficiency and efficacy in mind, or whether other values will also come to the fore, such as opportunities to learn within teams, an increase in individual autonomy, "sustainable" growth, and participation in decision-making.

Much will depend on the awareness of opportunities to make choices when technological and organizational changes are drawing near. Looking at figure 1, this signifies that we must be able to dislodge the technological-imperial interpretation of the links between T. O. and TL. Furthermore, choices among alternatives must be assessed not only on the basis of efficiency and effectiveness, but also by reference to the relevant human rights. This again needs to be done not only in a defensive way so as to protect human dignity, but also in an affirmative manner, by referring to these rights as standards of achievement for the next period. The contribution of the human and social sciences can be critical in this domain, as they have the task, as can be deduced from our analysis of the Enlightenment model of development, to go upstream (see figure 1) and to analyse in a systematic way the actual choices that enter the development of S. T. and their interrelations. This analysis can pertain to the ways scientists manage, in their laboratories, for example, to win support for their interpretation of scientific problems. Certain groups of scientists, technologists, and clients (e.g. powerful segments of markets) have an important interest in specific research lines and research outcomes, as Latour demonstrated,54 and alliances could be made among them.

Moving upstream signifies also the analysis of the ways cultural values impinge on the links between S. T. O. and TR. Analysis of organizations in highly industrial countries shows that the inner workings of modern organizations are not only influenced by "'re-industrial" values, but are even dependent on behaviour that is based on such values. Recently Philippe d'lribarne showed that organizations with the same formal, "universalistic" structure and technological processes differed widely with respect to such variables as the nature of interaction between superiors and workers, discipline, and ways of handling social interactions between co-workers. He demonstrated that these differences were interrelated with differences in the cultural surroundings of these organizations.55 Going upstream also implies a continuation of analysis pertaining to the impact of social and political factors on the choice of specific scientific and technological trajectories and the exclusion of other possible lines of development.

It follows from what we have said that the more the social and human sciences go upstream and the more they are successful in demonstrating opportunities for choice in fact by systematically "deconstructing" the "overdeterministic" Enlightenment model of development - the less downstream activities can be considered as only adaptations to technological-organizational exigencies and the more room there will be for assessing and evaluating upstream activities with systematic reference to human rights. This implies early warning systems and debates concerning the risks that are connected with new types of R&D. It signifies the analysis of technological designs with reference to the context in which the technology will be used, as characteristics of a design may already block certain downstream choices. Moreover, it emphasizes the need for a systematic analysis of the diffusion of technological innovations within the industrialized world and the impact on the developing world of Western decisions to stop production of certain types of commodities, for example when non-sustainable production processes are transferred to these countries, or when products that are considered to be a hazard to health in Western countries, and as such are forbidden by Western governments to be sold on Western markets, are still available in developing countries.

Fig. 1. Schematic representation of the industrial model of development.

We stated earlier that the development of industrial systems is a transnational process. No "society" or "culture" in the world can escape the impact of this process. There is no way back. But it is important to keep in mind that the future is not determined in a mechanical way by forces that are totally out of control. The more we go upstream and look carefully at what is going on, the more we will discover opportunities to influence downstream development in a direction that implies an enhancement of the quality of life.

The ''deconstruction'' of deterministic models of development

We have pointed out that it is necessary to "deconstruct" the deterministic models of development that we discussed earlier. All of these models imply that technology and industrial changes have an impact on social life and on the implementation of human rights. In terms of figure 1, downstream activities can have only weak effects on upstream activities. This limits the debate on technology and human rights to:

(1) questions related to the protection of individuals and groups against the impact of industrialism; and

(2) assumptions concerning the positive contribution of industrial development as such to individual freedom by breaking traditional bonds.

This "deconstruction," as a necessary method for breaking through these limitations, is achieved by a theoretical analysis of models of development. Clearly this is not enough, because the Enlightenment model of development and related models are, as we have shown, very resistant to theoretical attacks because of their ideological nature. A good strategy to attack the "impact model" is systematically to analyse all the links between the variables of the model (see figure 1), to use research results showing the degrees of variability, especially of upstream factors, and to engage in this type of research where data are lacking. The weakening of the "impact model" opens the road to another type of debate on human rights and technology, for example, on human rights as normative standards to be used when questions relating to choice arise.

However, it is important to note that the road between deterministic models and voluntaristic approaches is a narrow one. When we take this narrow road we have the obligation to engage in systematic, thorough analysis of the nature of the social, cultural, and technological constraints that will be encountered in specific situations, to indicate as exactly as possible opportunities for choice and the ways in which these can be used.

A promising direction for achieving this end has been outlined by Boudon, whose model seems to fit our task. It is suitable because it concentrates on the rational decisions of actors within systems of interdependencies. At the same time it extends the concept of rationality, permitting an interpretation of situations by the actors by deconstructing the concept of structure that plays such a prominent role in the deterministic models and by giving due consideration to the role of chance in processes of development.56 There will certainly be other roads leading to a solution of these problems, some of which may prove to be successful within specific cultural and social contexts.

A major element in the course of action we have outlined in the preceding sections will be education. In the first place, education has to enlighten people with respect to consequences of the use of "deterministic" models of development. In the second place, education has to show the links between policies based on these models and human rights. This analysis of the relationship between those types of policies and their impact on human rights has to be part of both general advanced studies and professional training in "upstream" and "downstream" areas. This task cannot be left to the "upstream" interest groups, because they are too strongly embedded in the Enlightenment model of development.

Confronted with this problem, Nakayama suggests the development of a service science. As we cannot expect much from academic science as a counter-balance to the menace of incorporated industrial and defence science, we must inevitably turn to another kind of enlightenment, he remarks, namely that of service science. He suggests that the structure of this science could be rather simple, as it would involve exposing problems, solving problems, and, finally, assessment by the people. He connects this idea to the Rights of the Ignorant. Access to scientific information should, in principle, be fully guaranteed. But this right should go together with the human right not to know specific scientific facts but still not be at a disadvantage because of such ignorance.57

Finally. there are some strong arguments for changing organizations in such a way that jobs are enriched with more elements of a "learning to learn" strategy that may contribute to an improved use of "human capital" and to an increased respect for human dignity (see pp. 25-27). The next generations must be trained in these domains in such a way that they will be in a better position than we are to understand the problems of development and choice. They must be able to organize research in these domains, not only restricted to sub-themes but also oriented towards a better understanding of global interdependencies. Such interdependencies result from the evolution of a new technological system, the characteristic features of which arc, in comparison with all previous technological systems, "a much greater complexity of conception, closer linkages with scientific institutions, greater capital intensity, more diversified location of production, greater in application and uses, more rapid achievement of global development and world markets.'' 58


1. La declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen (1789). Article 1. Les hommes naissent et demeurent libres et égaux en droits; les destinations sociales ne peuvent être fondées que sur l'utilité commune. Article 2. Le but de toute association politique est la conservation des droits naturels et imprescriptibles de l'homme; ces droits vent la liberté, la propriété, la sûreté et la réesistance à l'oppression.

2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The International Bill of Human Rights (United Nations, New York, 197X), p. 5.

3. C.G. Weeramantry, ea., Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (United Nations University, Tokyo, 1990), p. 1.

4. Weeramantry (note 3 above), pp. 2-3.

5. The positive consequences of technological development are also emphasized by Sadako Ogata, "United Nations Approaches to Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments" in Weeramantry (note 3 above).

6. C.G. Weeramantry, The Slumbering Sentinels - Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology (Penguin, 1983), p. xi.

7. P. Alcorn, Social Issues in Technology - A Format for Investigation (Prentice-Hall, Englewood-Ciffs, N.J., 1986), p. 218.

8. B. Joerges, "Technology in Everyday Lit-e: Conceptual Queries," Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, vol. 18, no. 2 (1988): 22.

9. D. MacKenzie and J. Wajcman, "Introductory Essay," in 1). MacKenzie and J. Wajcman, ea., The Social Shaping of Technology - How the Refrigerator Cot Its Hum (Open University Press, Milton Keynes/Philadelphia, Pa., 1985), pp. 3-4.

10. D. Bell, 'Fine Coming of Post-industrial Society - A Venture in Social forecasting (Basic Books, New York, 1976), p. 20.

11. Bell (note 10 above), p. 28.

12. S. Hill, Competition and Control at Work - The New Industrial Sociology (Heinemann Educational Books, London, 1981), p. 86.

13. J. Habermas, "Technical Progress and the Social-life World," in J. Habermas, cd., Toward a Rational Society - Student Protest, Science and Politics, trans. G.J.J. Shapiro (Heinemann, London, 1971), p. 57.

14. As cited by J.H.J. van der Pot in his Die Bewertung des technischen Fortschritts. Eine systematische Übersicht der Theorien, vol. I (Van Gorcum, Assen-Maastricht, 1985), p. 36.

15. Van der Pot (note 14 above), p. 37.

16. M. Weber, Wirtschaftsgeschichte. Abriss der universalen Sozial und Wirtschaftsgeschichte Duncker & Humblot, 1923), p. 307 ff

17. Van der Pot (note 14 above), p. 60.

18. Van der Pot (note 14 above), p. 64.

19. E.J. Dijksterhuis, De mechanisering van het wereldbeeld (Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1980).

20. M. Weber, "Vorbemerkung zu den Gesammelten Aufsätzen zur Religions- Soziologie," in M. Weber, Soziologie. Weltgeschichtliche Analysen. Politik. (Alfred Kröner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1968), p. 340 "Nur im Okzident gibt es 'Wissenschaft' in dem Entwicklungsstadium, welches wir heute als 'gültig' anerkennen." Weber here refers to the mathematical basis of science, the rational proof of statements, systematic empirical bases, systematic classification of law, rational organization.

21. A.O. Herrera, "Science, Technology and Human Rights: A Prospective View," in Weeramantry (note 3 above), chap. 2.

22. S.N. Eisenstadt, Revolution and the Transformation of Societies. A Comparative Study of Civilisations (The Free Press, New York, 1978), p. 178.

23. L. Dumont, Essais sur l'individualisme. Une perspective anthropologique (Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1983), p. 102.

24. P.A. Sorokin, Social and Cultural Mobility (The Free Press of Glencoe, New York, 1964), p. 542.

25. T. Campbell, "The Rights of the Mentally 111," in T. Campbell, D. Goldberg, S. McLean, and T. Mulem, eds., Human Rights. From Rhetoric to Reality (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1986), p. 126.

26. G. Haarscher, Philosophie des droits de l'homme (Editions de l'Université de Bruxelles, 1987), p. 21. The analysis of the interrelations between the development of industrial society and human rights has been further pursued in: J. Berting. "Gesellschaftliche Entwicklung, Menschenrechte und Rechte der Völker," in H. H. Holz et al. , eds. , "Die Rechte der Menschen," Dialektik- Beitrag zu Philosophie und Wissenschaften, 13 (Pahl-Rugenstein Verlag, Cologne, 1987), pp. 81-106; and J. Berting, "Societal Change, Human Rights and the Welfare State in Europe, " in J. Berting et al., Human Rights in a Pluralist WorldIndividuals and Collectivities (Meckler, Westport, Conn., 1990).

27. J. Berting, "The Goals of Development in Developed Countries," Goals of Development (Unesco, Paris, 1988), pp. 140-181.

28. C. Kerr, The Future of Industrial Societies - Convergence or Continuing Diversity (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass./London, 1983), p. 18.

29. Kerr (note 28 above), p. 44.

30. J.W. Murphy and).T. Pardeck, Introduction to J.W. Murphy end d. Pardeck, eds., Technology and Human Productivity - Challenges for the Future (Quorum Books, New York, 1986), p. xv.

31. J. Ellul, The Technological Society (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1965), p. 74.

32. C. Calhoun, The Question of Class Struggle - Social Foundations of Popular Radicalism during the Industrial Revolution (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1982).

33. A. Schaff, "Frontiers of Science and Technology. Vision and Direction of the Future," in ). Berting et al., The Socio-economic Impact of Micro-electronics (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1980), p. 61.

34. E.G. Herder, "Une autre philosophic de l'histoire (1774)" and "Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784)." See also F. Jonas, Ceschichte der Soziologie (Rowohlt Taschenbuch, 1968) and "Gesellschaftslchre des deutschen Idealismus", vol. I, pp. 119- 173.

35. R. Bendix, Force, Fate and Freedom - On Historical History (University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, 1984), p. 8.

36. J. Berting, "Structures, Actors and Choices," in J. Klabbers et al., Simulation and Caming: On the Improvement of Competence in Dealing with Complexity, Uncertainty and

Value Conflicts Press, Oxford, 1989), pp. 8-23.

37. A. Johnston and A. Sasson, eds., New Technologies and Development: Science and Technology as Factors of Change: Impact of Recent and Foreseeable Scientific and Technological Progress on the Evolution of Societies, Especially in the Developing Countries (Unesco, Paris, 1986), pp. 25-26.

38. K. Marx, "Zur Judenfrage," in Die Frühschriften (Kröner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1964), p. 190: "Die Teilname am Gemeinwesen, und zwar am politischen Gemeinwesen, ein Staatswesen, bildet ihren Inhalt."

39. E. Durkheim, De la division du travail social, 8th ed. (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1967).

40. This concept of "collective consciousness" is elaborated in several of Durkheim's works, e.g. Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, 5th ed. (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1968).

41. V. Pareto, Traité de sociologic générale. Oeuvres completes, vol. Xll (Librairie Droz, Geneva, 1968), pare. 2067; Les systèms socialistes (Librairie Droz, Geneva, 1964); La transformation de la démocratie (Librairie Droz, Geneva, 1970).

42. M. Weber, "Einleitung in die Wirtsehaftlichkeit der Weltreligionen", in Weber (note 20 above), pp. 350, 437.

43. T. Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (Viking Press, New York 1922); W.F. Ogburn, On Culture and Social Change (University of Chicago Press, Chicago/ London, 1964); Bell (note 10 above); Kerr (note 28 above).

44. R.K. Merton, "Science and Economy of 17th Century England," Social Theory and Social Structure (The Free Press of Glencoe, 1957), pp. 607-627.

45. C. Tilly, "Shrugging off the Nineteenth Century Incubus," in J. Berting and W. Blockmans, eds., Beyond Progress and Development (Gower Publishing Company, Aldershot, 1986).

46. J. Gershuny, After Industrial Society: The Emerging Self-service Economy (Macmillan, London/Basingstoke, 1978), pp. 4-5.

47. Berting (note 27 above), p. 170 ff.

48. W.F. Oghurn, "Technological Trends and National Policy", Report of the Subcommittee on Technology to the National Resources Committee (US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1937), p. 10.

49. M. Maurice, F. Sellier, and J.J. Silvestre, Politique d'éducation et organisation industrielle en Prance et Allemagne (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1982); 1). Gallie, In Search of a New Working Class: Automation and Social Integration within the Capitalist Enterprise (Cambridge University Press, London, 1978); B. Lutz. "Bildungssystem und Beschaftigungsstrukturen in Deutschland und Frankreich. Zum Einfluss des Bildungssystems auf die Gestaltung betrieblicher Arbeitskräftestrukturen," in l. S. F. München, ed., Betrieb, Arbeitsmarkt, Qualifikation (Frankfurt am Main, 1976); H. Kern and M. Schumann, Das Ende der Arbeitsteilung? Rationalizierung in der industriellen Produktion (Verlag C.H. Beck, Munich, 1985); R. Dore, British Fartory-Japanese Factory: The Origin of National Diversity in Industrial Relations (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1973); R.J. Smith, Japanese Society: Tradition, Self and the Social Order (Cambridge University Press, London, 1983); L. Winner, Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass./ London, 1977); L. Hirsehhorn, Beyond Mechanisation: Work and Technology in a Post-industrial Age (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass./London, 1984).

50. P. Grootings, "Conditions and Consequences of the Introduction of New Technol ogy at Work," in A. Francis and P. Grootings, eds., New Technologies and Work: Capitalist and Socialist Perspectives (Routledge, London/New York, 1989).

51. K. Matsushita, "'Why the West will Lose,' extracts from remarks made by Mr Konosuke Matsushita of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company," in Industrial Participation, Spring 1985, pp. 1, 8.

52. R.B. Reich, "The Quick Path to Technological Preminence," Scientific American, vol. 261, no. 4 (1989): 19-25.

53. M. Crozier, in an interview in Le Monde, December 1989. We are prisoners of a system in which nobody listens to anyone: "La 'nationalité" a priori n'est absolument pas le bon moyen de changer la réalité, celle-ci ne se modifie qu'à travers l'innovation élaborée le plus près possible du terrain."

54. B. Latour, Science in Action (Open University Press, 1987); B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Fans, Sage Library of Social Research, 80 (Beverly Hills/London, 1979).

55. P. d'lribarne, La logique de l'honneur: Gestion des entreprises et traditions nationales (Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1989).

56. R. Boudon, La place du désordre: Critique des théories du changement social (Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1984).

57. Shigeru Nakayama, "Human Rights and the Structure of the Scientific Enterprise," in Weeramantry (note 3 above), chap. 7.

58. P. Johnson and A. Sasson, eds., New Technologies and Development (Unesco, Paris, 1986), p. 21. See also the report on the Today Symposium on the "Advanced Industrial Societies in Disarray: What Are the Available Choices?" (Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, 1989).

(introductory text...)


Theoretical and political implications of the definition of human rights in relation to scientific and technological development

Out of the broad range of problems currently being discussed in the relationship between scientific and technological development and human rights, this paper will discuss some cultural and political issues involved in the decision-making process in scientific and technological development from the point of view of democratic values, that is, the right to democratic participation in scientific and technological decisions that might have a significant bearing on people's lives.

Taken literally, some contemporary definitions of human rights in relation to scientific and technological development would seem to imply a radical questioning of the standard conceptions of science and technology. The dominant conceptions of Western scientific and technological development in terms of objectivity, neutrality, and universalism,1 the technocratic conceptions of science and technology as the domain of the expert and the specialist, as well as the necessary identification of scientific and technological development - conceived in these terms - with freedom and well-being for all, are severely questioned and relativized by the conceptions of human rights as they are now debated within the United Nations system. The main issue here is whether these definitions of human rights will remain as abstract declarations of principle (a product of the third-world voting majority at the United Nations General Assembly), with no practical or political significance,2 or if, on the contrary, they can become instruments for the furtherance of human rights in the realms of scientific and technological development.

This project was carried out by a research team at the School of Sociology of the Venezuelan Central University in Caracas. José Daniel Gonzalez worked as research assistant. The following sociology students were active participants in the research group: Carlos Contreras W., Miguel Contreras, Pedro A. Garcia, Freddy Estévez, Clara Ferreira, Felipe R. Malaver, José Gregorio Masciangioli, Iokiñe Rodriguez, and Paula Vásquez.

To conceive of scientific and technological development as universal, neutral, and objective necessarily implies a lack of choice in relation to these processes, both in broad historical terms (the expansion of Western science and technology understood as an inexorable march towards overall human progress), and in terms of the day-to-day decision-making process in relation to science and technology (experts know best and there is no place for democratic participation by the lay, ignorant, public in the complex affairs with which specialists have to deal).

The Western model of scientific and technological development is not, however, simply a set of neutral instruments compatible with any social goal or purpose that a society might define.3 On the contrary, this model of scientific knowledge and of the technological transformation of nature can only bear its full potential when strictly guided by the aims and ends of instrumental rationality. The historical process of the making of the modern scientific and technological system of Western society is a process through which scientific and technological activities have become detached, separated, from any normative orientation different from the efficient control of nature and society. The unfolding - with no limitation - of modern scientific and technological development is based on the fact that within the realm of science and technology there can be no other criteria, no moral, ethical, or political value or norm different from the search, control, and manipulation of "reality." Any attempt to incorporate any other standard- apart from instrumental rationality - within the scientific-technological process would hinder the full development of its potential. When, in the Western world, instrumental rationality was limited by cultural, political, and religious constraints, its development was severely thwarted. The full development of the potential of science was achieved only as part of the modern process of separation of the different spheres of reason, when the scientific enterprise was able to do away with these external restrictions. This is the essential difference between Western culture and other cultures in which the control of nature and material abundance are not assumed to be the supreme values of life.4

Science as we know it - the scientific and technological development of modern industrial society - is not the natural way in which man relates to nature once he has managed to get rid of the limitations and inhibitions imposed by magic, religion, or any other tradition. According to the eurocentric and objectivist interpretations of science, the full development of this natural human potential has not been possible in other traditions because of cultural obstacles that would need to be eliminated to advance in the direction of human progress based on scientific and technological development.5 This is the approach of the Sociology of Modernization. Any cultural difference between a traditional society and modern society (that is, Western industrial society) is seen as an impediment to modernization (be it family patterns, religion, the conception of time, or whatever). It is assumed that these societies have to supersede these peculiarities to achieve the goals of modernity.

However, scientific knowledge has no ontological foundation in human nature. It is not the "superior" form of human knowledge, but a particular type of knowledge developed in a society that has established the radical and absolute priority of the values of production, work, prediction, and control. The historical development of an instrumental rationality with no limit or external control is not the development of a sort of Hegelian reason through which the abstract laws of universal development express themselves. It is, on the contrary, a particular historical process, in which -as a result of a complex set of cultural, political, and economic conditions - Western culture assumes a basic cultural option, the unilateral priority of those values that could be achieved through instrumental reason.

When human rights related to scientific and technological development are thought of in terms of the right to "self-determined development," the right to carry out traditional economic activities, the "right to uphold cultural traditions" (especially by indigenous, peasant, and fishing communities), "the rights of protection against possible harmful effects of scientific and technological developments," "the right of access to scientific and technological information that is essential to development and welfare (both at the individual and collective levels)," and the "right of choice or the freedom to access and choose the preferred paths of scientific and technological development," 6 there is a common and basic premise implied: there is a choice, and people have a right to decide among different possible alternatives. This would seem to imply a radically new perspective in relation to scientific and technological development. Science and technology are not seen as having one linear, predetermined universal path. Since different alternatives are possible, and the options between these alternatives have a cardinal bearing on the shaping of the future, these decisions cannot be left in the hands of experts and technocrats. Likewise, if there is no universally valid paradigm of a "good life," people must have the right to choose and not have the set of values related to material production, to the manipulation and control of nature and society, imposed upon them as the supreme, unquestioned universal values of mankind, as values which can justify the denial of all other values or cultural alternatives. There cannot be such a thing as democratic society and people cannot be thought of as sovereign - if the future is predetermined and there is simply no option. In the words of Adam Przeworoski, individuals acting on the basis of their current preferences are collectively sovereign if the alternatives open to them are constrained only by conditions independent of anyone's will. Specifically, people are sovereign to the extent that they can alter the existing institutions, including the state and property, and if they can allocate available resources to all feasible uses.7

Scientific and Technological Decisions as Political Issues

As long as the Western model of science and technology is seen as equal to human progress and as necessarily positive in its impact on living conditions and human rights, there will be little public concern over these issues. Because of scientific and technological development there is more freedom, less work, and an ever-rising standard of living. In these conditions there is little or no demand for public, democratic participation in relation to scientific and technological decisions.

Scientific and technological development and their relationship to human rights have become political issues in recent decades as a result of two parallel and often interrelated processes. On one hand the possible negative or perverse consequences of scientific and technological development with no control or limits is becoming increasingly clear. The destructive potential of nuclear arms (which threaten that most basic human right, the right to life for present and future generations), and the massive destruction of the natural environment because of industrial society's aggressive exploitation of nature, act together to unsettle our blind faith in science and technology. Simultaneously, in different parts of the world, as a consequence of different processes, and at diverse rhythms, there is an ever-increasing demand for citizen participation in those issues that can have an impact in their individual or collective lives.

Decisions once defined as technical are increasingly forced into the political arena by people who are sceptical about the value of technological progress, who perceive a gap between technology and human need, or who mistrust authority in bureaucracies responsible for technological change. Policies concerning science and technology once based on the assumption that technology equals progress now involve difficult social choices.8

... participation as an ideology seems to be of growing importance just when technical complexity threatens to limit effective political choice.9

This new political significance of scientific and technological decisions has a double dimension. On the one hand is the acknowledgement of the possible positive or negative affects of science and technology on the rights of citizens (the right to life, the right to welfare, the right to privacy, the right to a non-contaminated natural environment, etc.). On the other hand, it refers to a new political demand, seen as a human right: the right to have access to information in relation to important technological matters and the right to participate in the decision-making process in relation to scientific and technological issues that might have a significant impact on people's lives in the short or long term.

Nuclear plants; the use of animals for scientific research; toxic waste disposal; the impact of massive chemical use in modern agriculture; research and development in biotechnology, especially in the field of recombinant DNA; major airport construction; big dams - these are just some problems that have become the focus of organized resistance that has transformed them into significant political issues. Diverse social movements, especially anti-nuclear movements (both the peace movement and movements against nuclear energy) and ecological movements struggling against the destructive impact on nature of unlimited economic growth, demand the right to full public information and citizen participation in major scientific and technological decisions that might have an impact on human rights.

Because of public pressure, many countries over the last two decades have commenced the development of initiatives leading to "increased public involvement in planning and decision-making" 10 in relation to science and technology. Some of these participatory experiments have led to genuine democratic participation that has, in some cases, resulted in major changes in technological decisions. Frequently, however, far from implying a significant increase in citizen participation in the decision-making process, they have been oriented toward legitimizing questionable technological decisions.11

Technological Options as Political Issues in the Third World

There are some fundamental differences in the impact of science and technology on human rights and in the types of issues that tend to become the focus of public attention, and the way in which they become political issues, in most of the third world as compared to Western industrial societies. These contrasts have to do both with cultural and political differences and with the diverse nature of the impact of scientific and technological development on disparate societies. From a basic cultural point of view, the uncritical acceptance of Western scientific and technological development implies a disavowal of the distinctive character of many third-world cultures. Given the enormous power of modern science and technology to reconstruct social relations (acting as a genetic code with the capacity to reproduce many of the cultural traits that gave rise to them), and because these are a product of a particular cultural-historical experience, an unquestioned embrace of the scientific and technological paradigm necessarily implies a basic reshaping of most previous cultural patterns. Whether and when this becomes a salient political issue depends basically on the degree of Westernization of third-world societies and of the relative vigour of alternative cultural traditions.12 Thus while these issues have only marginal significance in industrial urban sectors of Latin American society, they remain poignant and conflicting where traditional cultures maintain some vitality (as in Andean cultures), or where not only cultural but physical survival is at stake (as is the case with the aboriginal populations of the Amazon basin).

The hegemonic model of scientific and technological development that is assumed as universal and inevitable for the planet as a whole is not necessarily viable for all countries in the third world. Every technological decision implies that some alternatives were either rejected or not even considered. When third-world countries embark on large-scale development plans and import sophisticated and expensive technology - guided by inducements by international aid organizations or by national pride or megalomania - a disproportionate amount of national resources is concentrated on a few showpiece projects while the basic needs of the majority of the population are left mostly unmet.13 The consequences of the heavy indebtedness implied by this model of technological development are dramatically illustrated by the present third-world debt crisis.

Equally striking, in terms of its impact on the human rights of the poorer sectors of the population (standards of living and civic and political rights), is the current vogue of export-oriented development. This usually implies an option for the importation of advanced technology required to manufacture goods that are to be sold to industrial countries, again concentrating investment resources on technology that neither creates employment nor produces goods directed toward the satisfaction of basic needs.14 The restrictions in internal consumption required to increase exports, and the low salaries necessary to preserve competitive advantages in the world market, are often possible only in authoritarian regimes. It is not by chance that practically all the third-world success stories according to macroeconomic criteria - have been in countries with right-wing dictatorial regimes. The export drive - under pressure of the weight of the foreign debt - in the case of agriculture often implies the substitution of traditional food production for the internal market by exportable goods, leading to the disturbing paradox of a decrease in food consumption at the very same time that overall agricultural production is increasing. The economic and social impact of the Green Revolution is far from unambiguously positive.15

Quite apart from the fact that this model of development may not be deemed desirable or compatible with traditional cultures or values is the question of whether the paths to development associated with large-scale, capital-intensive science and technology, and the patterns of consumption and levels of utilization of natural resources involved, are indeed feasible for the world as a whole. Even if the dire predictions of the Club of Rome were exaggerated, it still seems hardly likely that a viable development model for the total population of the world is possible if the present level of resource consumption characteristic of Western industrial societies is assumed as the universal norm. This creates key policy problems for scientific and technological development in the third world today. Is it not possible that the model of technological and industrial development, the prototype of the "good life" to which all other alternatives are sacrificed or forsaken, is simply not attainable for most of the inhabitants of the world? What are the implications for the hundreds of millions who can no longer return to the traditional culture that has ceased to be viable and yet have no access to modern scientific and technological culture, thus being stranded between two worlds with a deep cultural and identity crisis?

The differences in political institutions have a marked bearing on the impact of scientific and technological development in third-world countries, when compared with Western experience.

Within advanced industrial countries, hegemonic and exploitative relationships have been qualified and somewhat restrained within the democratic framework of civic and political participation. Many of the third world's developing countries, by contrast, are under authoritarian regimes and traditions and practically all the public decisions are left to the tiny groups of so-called modernizing élites.16

These political differences have additional implications. Human rights-related issues in scientific and technological development obviously occupy a lower political priority in societies where the most basic human rights (as these have been traditionally defined both in civic-political and in social-economic terms) are by no means guaranteed. The possibility of having some say in scientific and technological decisions is likewise severely limited by the current vogue of neo-liberal economics imposed upon almost all countries in the periphery by international financial institutions as a condition for the renegotiation of the foreign debt. At stake are both the possibility of democratic debates and decisions in relation to the goal of a desired society and the means for achieving it (which would obviously imply some technological options), and national sovereignty. If all the main economic decisions (and, by implication, scientific and technological options) are left to market forces, and the resources required for these decisions are highly concentrated in the hands of multinational corporations, a very significant proportion of the relevant decisions pertaining to the definition of the present and future of these societies is drastically excluded from the political arena.

A further significant difference in the relationship between scientific and technological development and human rights in industrial societies and the situation in most of the third world has to do with the availability of economic resources. Thanks to their ample wealth, industrialized countries can invest in technological measures that compensate for economic activities which have particularly negative impacts. They have managed to control and even reverse some of the harm done by certain technologies.17 This is particularly so for environmental hazards related to industrial activities. When technological alternatives, or the technologies required to limit harmful environmental consequences or effects on people's health, prove to be too expensive, there is always the possibility of relocating these activities or the resulting toxic wastes in some third-world country.18 The limitation in the availability of resources, along with the lack of the necessary know-how, sets limits to the matters relating to science and technology that are likely to become political issues in the third world. Even when technological alternatives to specially damaging industrial activities are well known, it is unlikely that there will be significant opposition to such activities if the costs of the alternative are deemed to be beyond the country's capacity to bear, or if, for example, the affected employees in a particularly polluting petrochemical or steel mill have no alternative means of subsistence besides employment in that plant. Likewise, rigorous technological assessment requires both the resources to carry out studies and a basic trust in the results of such endeavour. This, again, tends to restrict the scope for technological decisions to become political issues.

The Latin American experience

In Latin America, probably owing to the relatively low level of scientific and technological development in most of the continent, and the imperative nature of other problems, public debates, struggles, and mobilizations in relation to scientific and technological development and human rights have been limited. Problems like computer technology and privacy, the risks and ethical implications of research in biotechnology, the ethical dilemmas implied in advanced medical treatments - matters that have become critical questions in industrialized countries - have yet to become significant political issues. Even in relation to important environmental threats - as a result of industrial development or the massive misuse of natural resources - Latin American reaction both at the government level and in a wide political spectrum has been, at best, ambiguous.

Every worldwide plan for conservation of natural resources and effective protection of the ecosystems of the biosphere brings about mistrust in Third World intellectual conscience that perceives several threats for countries in the periphery. Metropolitan centers, using ecological and protectionist banners as an excuse, could limit Third World countries' autonomy in relation to use of their natural resources, thus reserving natural resources for industrialized countries' needs. The Third World would have to carry out a very restrictive demographic policy, and very modest levels of technological and economic development. A development policy guided by these views of ecology would ratify the present division of the world between industrialized and underdeveloped countries, and increase the distance between rich and poor nations.19

However, during the past decade, political debates and social conflicts in relation to the implications of technical decisions (nuclear energy; construction of great dams; highways in the Amazon; exploitation of mineral resources; industrial plants without adequate anti-pollution protection, etc.) have been occupying an increasingly significant political space.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear policy, perhaps the most important single political issue in scientific and technological debates in the industrialized world, has had some political relevance only in some larger countries of Latin America. The Tlatelolco Treaty, agreed to by 21 countries in 1967, was the first multinational treaty renouncing the use of nuclear energy for warfare. It prohibits the development, reception, and acquisition of nuclear arms and nuclear testing in the Latin American continent, not only by the member states but also by extra-continental nuclear powers.20 This treaty has not been signed by all Latin American countries, and according to conditions laid down by some countries, the nuclear ban will be obligatory for them only when all the governments in the continent have ratified it. Thus, for different reasons, the treaty is not in force in Brazil, Argen tine, Chile, Guyana, and Cuba. The treaty, moreover, lacks penalties for violations.

Nuclear arms have not been developed in Latin America in spite of the fact that at least some countries seem to have the required know-how.21 The military establishments in Argentina and Brazil have used each other's nuclear programmes as the threat that justifies the development of nuclear weapons.22 Research in that field seems to have been quite advanced in both cases. However, the end of the military regimes, public opposition to the nuclear arms programmes and a marked improvement in the relations between these countries seem to have halted both programmes. An expression of this new warmth in diplomatic relations is the signing in 1985 of the Protocol of Nuclear Security and Cooperation between Brazil and Argentina.23

Four countries in the continent (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Cuba) have developed ambitious nuclear energy plans. Mexico planned for 20 nuclear plants. Brazil signed a contract for the construction of eight nuclear plants with Kraftwerk Union of Germany.24 However, these programmes met with severe political opposition as well as financial and technical difficulties. In Brazil, the military's nuclear programme met with opposition from leading industrialists and critics in and out of government for both technical and financial reasons.25 The military objected to public debates on nuclear policy, but opposition none the less continued. Resistance to the military's nuclear plans was strengthened by the opposition victory in the elections in São Paulo in November 1982 where some plants were to be located. Finally, in 1983, the Figueredo government announced the indefinite postponement of the construction of two reactors that were to be built on the São Paulo coastline. The completion of two reactors under construction was deferred.26 After the Chernobyl disaster public opposition to Brazil's nuclear programme increased. Important mass demonstrations against nuclear energy took place.27 The scientific community argued that the nuclear programme was unnecessary unless the objective was the making of nuclear weapons. The only operating plant in the country (Angra I) was closed by a judge in mid-1986 until evacuation measures in the event of an accident had been widely discussed by the local community. Scientists demanded public debate of Brazil's nuclear policy and insisted that the nuclear industry should not be self-regulatory.28 Because of public opposition, financial difficulties, foreign debt, and the end of the military regime, of the eight new nuclear reactors that were planned, six were cancelled and two were delayed.29

More as a result of financial difficulties than political opposition and the mass demonstrations against nuclear plants that took place in 1986, Mexico's planned 20 nuclear plants have been drastically reduced to two.30 Likewise, in Argentina, as a consequence of the new civilian government taking office and the severe economic crisis, four programmed nuclear plants were cancelled and one under construction runs the risk of being discontinued.31 Thus, after the spending of billions of dollars on these projects - products of the megalomania of military and technocratic elites - Latin American nuclear programmes have come practically to a standstill. Only in Cuba, where the closed nature of its political system limits public debate, does nuclear plant construction seem to continue unhindered.

Another Development

The questioning of scientific and technological decisions in Latin America is often explicitly part of a global critique of the present hegemonic style or model of economic and technological development from the perspective of an alternative model, the so-called "another development" or "ecodevelopment." Within the context of debates on alternative styles of development, there are well-developed analyses of the relations between basic human rights (and basic human needs), and scientific-technological development. The current model of scientific and technological development is questioned as being oriented more towards profit and the imitation of the consumption patterns of industrialized countries by a small privileged minority than towards the satisfaction of the basic needs of the majority of the population.32 Within this overall perspective, there is a wide diversity of approaches in contemporary debates, with varying degrees of criticism of Western scientific and technological development and its impact on Latin American society. Representative of current critical Latin American approaches in relation to technological development is the Technological Prospective for Latin America Project.33 The project starts with the basic assumption that any discussion on the scientific and technological requirements of Latin American societies demands, in the first place, an explicit definition of the characteristics of the desirable society. This in turn is defined as an egalitarian, participatory, and autonomous society that is intrinsically compatible with its physical environment. Only on the basis of such a socio-economic strategy, according to this perspective, can the social requirements of science and technology and of R&D be defined. This is obviously a political conception of scientific and technological development guise distant from linear-naturalistic or market conceptions of the technological process.34

Over the past few years the critique of the impact of modern technology has appeared beyond the limits of social science and has led to the emergence of a variety of grass-roots organizations. A radical critique of the hegemonic model of scientific and technological development is found in the multiple organizations and groups involved in research, experimentation and use of alternative or appropriate technologies. These groups are concerned not only with small-scale, decentralized, and democratically controlled technology, but also with an alternative to the civilizing model implied by modern large-scale technology. Technology is not assumed to be an independent or neutral variable in the construction of a desirable social order but as a tool that must be shaped according to demands that should be democratically defined according to people's needs.

Frequently, the issue of democratic control of scientific and technological decisions is not initially an explicit demand, but a by-product of debates and conflicts in relation to other issues. The questioning of specific technological decisions often leads to misgivings in relation to the legitimacy of the decision-making process in science and technology, and then to demands for other decision-making methods with increased public participation.

The Arms Industry and Military Expenditure

Military autonomy, long periods of military government, and the permanent threat of military coupe, in all but the most stable democratic societies on the continent, have made it almost impossible to carry out serious democratic debates in relation to arms expenditure or the arms industry in Latin America. Under military or civil governments, these topics are considered as strategic matters of state that should be protected from public interference. There are three main ways in which expenditure on military technology is directly related to human rights issues. The first, and most obvious, is the fact that weapons in the hands of the armed forces are almost exclusively used against their country's own population. Even if high-tech military equipment were not a necessary prerequisite for the thousands of desaparecidos in Argentina, there is no doubt that the hardware in the hands of the military proved to be much more effective against the Argentinian civilian population than against the British in the Falklands. In second place is the economic significance of arms imports in a continent facing a deep economic crisis and the impossibility of servicing its foreign debt without imposing insupportable sacrifices on most of the population by recessive economic policies.35 In third place - and more directly related to the issue of technological alternatives or the alternative use of resources for technological development - is the significance of domestic arms production. Know-how and financial resources directed toward research and development in the arms industry are assets distracted from other potential uses. While this is not a significant issue in the smaller countries (with no arms industry), it is a particularly salient problem in Brazil, which over the last few years has developed a full-fledged defence industry and has become one the most important weapons exporters in the world.36 The development of this arms industry clearly highlights the priorities of the Brazilian military. While most of the inhabitants of Brazil live below the so-called poverty line, the country has a US$10 to US$12 billion-dollar weapons industry,37 and has even produced such high-tech items as a rival to the Exocet missile, a computer-guided anti-ship missile that is supposed to be almost 100 per cent accurate.38

It is hardly possible to separate the technological issues (R&D expenditure, national priorities in scientific and technological development, possible alternative uses of the billions of dollars spent on imports of military hardware in a situation of deep economic crisis, the relation between arms imports and foreign debt, etc.) from the more explicit and direct political issues relating not only to military expenditure, but to the role of the military in society, the precarious nature of democracy in Latin America, and the massive and generalized violation of human rights by the military in most of the continent over the past decades. The present process of democratization of the continent has only been possible as a compromise in which the military establishment is not defeated but agrees to return power to an elected civilian government in return for guarantees that it will not be held responsible for the violation of human rights during the military regimes. In addition, it preserves a major voice in such issues as military expenditure. The end of military regimes has not involved a major alteration in the relative influence of the armed forces. In some countries this amounts to a virtual power of veto in relation to main societal decisions.39

Environment and Contamination

In recent years, environmental concerns have become a salient political problem in most of the continent. Environment-related issues are clearly the most significant science and technology questions that have become prominent political problems in Latin America. Over the last few decades the process of annihilation of the environment has advanced on an ever-accelerating scale, devastating rivers, forests, and topsoil and contaminating air and water. These are no longer problems that people read about in the newspapers or see on television. Mexico City, for example, is not only the biggest metropolis in the world, but easily the most polluted. The everyday living and health conditions of its 18 million inhabitants are dangerously affected.40 The life expectancy of babies born in this mega-metropolis is significantly reduced. The situation in São Paulo and Santiago is almost as bad. In these conditions, the environment is no longer the exclusive concern of an educated middle-class minority. The destructive impact of this model of development is so overwhelming that in spite of the pressing nature of other problems faced by the population, such as unemployment, or lack of housing and food, the right to a healthy environment has become a vital political priority for all sectors of society.41

The Development of the Brazilian Amazon Basin

The Amazon development plans are the result of a complex combination of military megalomania (an ambition to turn Brazil into a first-rate world power, as well as a certain degree of paranoia in relation to potential threats from neighbouring countries if all Brazil is not populated and developed), demands from multinational and national capital interested in exploiting the vast resources of the area, cattle ranchers eager for immense tracts of land, the urgent need to generate the enormous amounts of exportable goods required to repay the biggest foreign debt of any third-world country, and the pressing social problems inherited from the Brazilian economic miracle of the last decades. Brazil has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world, land holding is highly concentrated, there are millions of landless peasants. and high levels of unemployment prevail. For the Brazilian military and technocrats that have controlled the country over the last 25 years, the Amazon - the last great frontier- has seemed to offer solutions to these problems and ambitions.

The development of the Amazon basin exemplifies the potential negative impact of technological development on human rights. From this viewpoint, it can almost be considered as a typical case of what should not be done. The destructive potential of modern scientific and technological development is carried to its limit, while the use of all the potential of modern science and technology in respect of forecasting, prevention, and technology assessment is limited in so far as the decision-making process is concerned. In relation to basic issues such as the importance of the Amazonian rain forest for world oxygen production, or the impact of Amazonian fires on the greenhouse effect or the destruction of the ozone layer, there is still much disagreement among experts. However, in other cases, the problems have little to do with know-how or the capacity to predict or prevent harmful results. The development process in the Amazon basin could also be seen as an example of the potential of modern science and technology to forecast the negative consequences of certain technological decisions before their effect becomes irreversible, or their capacity to give early warning on significant adverse effects through environment diagnosis based on the most advanced technologies such as satellite surveillance. But facts by themselves, even universally recognized facts, do not necessarily lead to "correct" decisions. This depends on the political system and the degree to which the conflicting views and interests of all the relevant or affected groups or populations are considered. These are political problems, not problems of a strictly scientific or technological nature. Moreover, the closed, shielded organization of modern scientific and technological institutions, the aura of great proficiency and expertise that surrounds the whole scientific-technological enterprise of modern society and its accompanying technocratic ideology are vital limiting factors in any attempt to democratize the decision-making process in areas that have to do with science or technology.42

An overall idea of the global magnitude of these megadevelopment plans is given by some facts about the Gran Carajás project, just one of several development programmes proposed for the Brazilian Amazon basin. This project consists of highways, railroads, hydroelectric dams, large-scale cattle ranching, forestry, iron-ore and bauxite mining, and charcoal production, as well as several large pig-iron mills and aluminum-smelting plants, with an total investment of US$62 billion. It includes an area as large as France and England combined,43 covering 885,265 square kilometres, or 10.6 per cent of the total surface of the country.44 As has been the case with all other large-scale development programmes in Brazil over the past decades, the decision-making process is highly centralized in an Interministerial Council with no participation by the legislative or judicial branches of government or by organized labour.45 The environmental repercussions of these large-scale plans (which have been carried out with little assessment of their impact on the very fragile ecology system of the Amazonian tropical rain forest) have been well known for some time.46 Equally well known and documented has been the dramatic impact of these projects on the aboriginal populations that live in these areas.47 However, owing to the closed, repressive nature of the military regime, internal opposition to these programmes had very limited effect for some time.

The development of the Amazon basin became an important political issue not just in Brazil, but internationally, when domestic groups (ecologists, anthropologists, and others) were able to link their struggle with concerned international organizations. Some of these, like Survival International, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Defence Fund, have acted as international resonance-chambers for local struggles, thus increasing their impact in spite of very inauspicious internal political conditions.48 The efficacy of these international organizations is enhanced by the growing conviction by environmentalists worldwide that large-scale destruction of ecological systems like the Amazon basin and tropical rain forest is not just the concern of Brazilians, since it imperils the very conditions that make life possible on the planet Earth. Equally important is the leverage gained by these groups from the fact that many of these projects are at least partially financed by first-world or first-world-controlled institutions, such as the European Community or the World Bank, over which they can exert direct political pressure.

This combination of national and international organizations in demanding a radical reconsideration of most of the development plans in the Amazon basin has had some impact. The Brazil Environmental Secretariat (SEMA) was created in 1973 and a national environment policy had been established by law by 198149. Major development projects now include - at least on paper - some environmental precautions and some form of demarcation for Amerindian land.50 International financial institutions - yielding to pressure by ecological organizations - have begun to demand some environmental safeguards as a prerequisite for continued financing. These and other forms of international attempts to have a say in the country's development plans have been interpreted by successive military and civilian governments as imperialistic intervention in the internal, sovereign affairs of Brazil. Nationalist and anti-imperialist banners now appear in the hands of right-wingers, landowners, and the military.51

"The international community cannot try to strangle the development of Brazil in the name of false ecological theories," foreign ministry secretary-general Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima has stated. Foreign criticism of the government's alleged indifference to the destruction of the Amazon is "arrogant, presumptuous and aggressive."

The tough-talking Flecha de Lima was in the Hague in March 1990 to attend a 24-nation conference on the protection of the environment. In Brazil, the meeting added fuel to what some observers described as a dangerous xenophobia backlash.

Talk of "internationalization" of the Amazon has spurred the Brazilian military into adopting a high-profile position on the issue. A stream of statements made by the minister of the army, Leonidas Pires Goncalves, clearly shows the irritation of the military to ward both foreign and domestic environmentalist movements. He has explicitly ruled out their participation in any decision-making in the region.52

In the words of Jose Sarney, when he was President of Brazil: "We cannot allow the Amazon to become a green Persian Gulf. . . The ecology movement is a Trojan Horse destined to seduce youths and conceal bigger interests." 53

To counter international condemnation over the destruction of the rain forest, Sarney called a meeting of the presidents of the Amazon Cooperation Pact, signed by eight countries in 1978. The meeting rejected "attempts to impose conditions on the granting of resources," emphasizing that the eight countries had a sovereign right to the use of their resources.54

These conflicts illustrate the complexities of human rights in relation to scientific and technological development. Every conception of human rights implies a definition of certain subjects to whom the rights apply. By making reference to different subjects or groups to whom human rights may apply, the participants in the Amazon conflicts may all invoke the language of human rights. Whose human rights are more important? The rights of the Amerindians to survival, to their cultural identity and traditional lifestyles? The sovereign right of the Brazilian government to carry out large-scale development plans without any foreign interference? Or the rights of humankind as a whole, when the basic right to life by present and future generations might be imperilled by the sovereign decisions of an independent country?

Matters are complicated by the fact that important development decisions often mean that new groups of populations are involved. Before massive colonization starts, there are conflicts between aboriginal rights on the one hand, and government development plans, the interests of multinationals, large-scale cattle ranchers, etc., on the other. However, once hundreds of thousands of poor Brazilians from other parts of the country arrive - as small-scale gold prospectors (garimpeiros), or looking for land or employment- a new situation is created and the human rights issues involved are no longer so clear-cut.55

Scientific-Technological Development and Democratic Theory

In spite of all the areas in which scientific and technological decisions have become relevant political issues in Latin America over the past few years, these are not the most salient political problems on the continent. The economic crisis, the foreign debt, the critical poverty of an increasing proportion of the population, the systematic violations of human rights by the military regimes that have ruled most of the continent in the last two decades, etc., by far overshadow the political centrality of scientific and technological issues, even if usually these are intrinsically related. In spite of the increasing critical awareness by political groups, grass-roots organizations, and the intellectual community of the potential negative impact of uncontrolled scientific and technological development, the dominant ideology is still that of blind faith in science and technology as the solution to the continent's problems. This faith has been enhanced recent dominance of neo-liberalism in the economic and political establishment of almost every country in the continent.

Even democratic theory, the main concern of contemporary Latin American social sciences, fails to deal adequately with the main political issues involved in the dominant decision-making process in science and technology. Given the cardinal and growing impact of scientific and technological decisions in shaping multiple spheres of contemporary life, and their powerful positive and negative impacts in terms of human rights, a genuine democratic control of the main scientific and technological decisions can be considered as a condition without which it is hardly possible to speak of a democratic society. Fundamental liberties and basic human rights are denied, and cultural freedom and self-reliance made impossible, if basic scientific and technological decisions are imposed in an authoritarian manner with little or no participation by those who are affected by these decisions. Contemporary democratic theory - with its excessive emphasis on political and state aspects of social life - has as one of its basic challenges the inclusion of scientific and technological decisions as vital democratic issues, in opposition to technocratic and universalistic tendencies that today represent important obstacles in the struggle toward more authentically democratic societies.

Model of development, basic needs, and human rights in an oil economy: the case of Venezuela

To analyse the way in which scientific and technological matters have been becoming political issues in Venezuela, in the first place it will be necessary to describe the development model and the technological style that have been dominant in the past decades, as well as their effect on human rights. The last part of this paper will analyse the ways in which the Venezuelan political system has dealt with the relationship between scientific technological development and human rights.

The development model of the past decades, as well as the principal decisions that led to the evolution of the dominant technological style, cannot be analysed without referring to the role of oil in the Venezuelan economy and to the current democratic system. As a consequence of oil exploitation, Venezuela changed in a few years from a poor, agricultural, rural, and traditional country to a "modern," relatively prosperous, urban one that lives from an income (rent) that, without much effort, enters the state's coffers. Between 1941 and 1971, the urban population grew from 31.3 to 73 per cent,56 mortality fell from 16.4 to 6.6 per cent,57 and life expectancy increased by 30 years. Literacy in the population older than 15 years of age increased from 42.8 to 75.9 per cent.58 In that same period, the fiscal income multiplied by a factor of 34, without significant inflation taking place.59 Per capita fiscal income rose from US$107 to US$2,755 during that same period. In 1971, oil revenues accounted for 65.7 per cent of fiscal income.60

The present democratic period began in 1958 with the end of the country's last military dictatorship. The relative abundance of resources permitted a basic consensus between the main political parties (the social democratic party Acción Democrática, and the Christian democratic party, Copei), the Venezuelan Labor Confederation (CTV), the national business organization (FEDECAMARAS), the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and the senior military command.61 This basic constitutive pact of the Venezuelan democratic system is expressed in the National Constitution of 1961. Politically, it means a social democratic system whose goal is to establish a social welfare state made possible by high oil revenues concentrated in the hands of the state. This basic pact implied a restricted democracy that practically excluded all political and citizen participation other than that expressed through the organizations mentioned above. In practice the state and the two main political parties monopolize the political system. Civil society is weak and disorganized.

In economic terms, this constitutive pact has meant the existence of a highly interventionist state that assumes functions in the area of welfare of the population (health, education, services, housing), and is also the owner of the principal wealth of the country (oil and mines). It is responsible for a large part of the basic economic activities that, as a consequence of the large investments required and of the long periods needed for the investments to mature, could not be assumed by private business. The state promotes and finances an industrialization process - based on import substitution - with a clear preference on production for high income demand. Imported technology with limited capacity to incorporate labour is the norm.

With the highest per capita income in Latin America and a gross domestic product that increased at an average of 5.3 per cent between 1958 and 1972,62 a rich-country mentality developed. With abundant foreign exchange, importing is easier than producing. Expensive and large-scale solutions that imply great investments are preferred over modest proposals. Solutions that can be bought are chosen over those which mean organization, work, or collective effort. The country's political and economic system is organized around the distribution of oil revenues. The most profitable economic activities are those that depend on the state. Aspirations are converted into requirements or demands that are made of the state, whereby a system of paternalism and political clientage is produced which castrates the autonomous initiative of civil society and generates increasing levels of corruption.

The years 1973 and 1974 are critical in the recent history of Venezuela. With the jump in oil prices, from US$4.42 per barrel in 1973 to US$14.35 in 1974,63 the fiscal income tripled between 1972 and 1974. This appeared to be the final confirmation of the optimistic forecasts on oil as an eternal source of wealth whose prices could only rise in the world market, guaranteeing a highly prosperous future for the country. All the most perverse features of the oil culture in Venezuela were thus accentuated during the first government of Carlos Andrés Pérez (1973-1978): the pursuit of wealth, waste, political clientage, and corruption. It is the period of the Great Venezuela, of the nationalization of the iron and oil industries, and of the so-called second independence: economic independence. There was a national consensus in relation to the glorious destiny that was announced for the country.64 With a megalomaniac vision, hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in great development projects (steel, petrochemicals, aluminum, electricity) and in services (great highways, enormous hospitals) without evaluation of possible alternatives. Cost was not an obstacle. The international banks wished to recycle the petro dollars of the OPEC countries. It was assumed that there would always be new oil revenues with which to pay debts. With the investment programme of the Fifth National Development Plan, Venezuela went in two or three years from a surplus situation (in which it was necessary to create a public agency to invest abroad the financial resources that the economy was not able to absorb)65 to a massive foreign debt. A developmentalist ideological environment, the concentration of investment resources in the hands of the state, the absence of all requirements for profitability of public investments, a strongly overvalued currency, and a generalized system of corruption - which favours large projects as a guarantee of accelerated enrichment -became determinants of a pattern of investments in which the largest and most expensive alternative was systematically preferred.

With the deterioration of oil prices (from an average export price of US$33.38 per barrel in 1984 to US$15.38 in 1986),66 and with the start of the foreign debt crisis -precipitated by the declaration of insolvency by Mexico in 1983 - the spell is broken and Venezuela's current period of economic crisis begins. In 1987 the country's total foreign debt was US$36.519 million.67 The service of the foreign public debt in 1987 took 53.7 per cent of the country's total oil revenues. In 1988, more than a fourth of the national budget was assigned to the service of this debt.68 The weight of the crisis for the population was expressed in terms of unemployment, decay of basic public services, reduced wages, undernourishment, and deterioration of health. Today, in terms of meeting the basic needs of the population, this oil-rich country, the exceptional case in Latin America, is experiencing conditions similar to those of countries that during the past decades have had much more limited resources.

What then is the balance that can be drawn up of that period of abundance in relation to the situation of human rights in the country? To what extent have the multi-million-dollar investments made during the past decades in the importation of advanced technology for industrial production and the exploitation of natural resources contributed to meeting the basic needs and the fundamental human rights of the majority of the population?

The main problems that the country now faces are not really a consequence of the current economic crisis. These problems have been accumulating for decades. The crisis has shown that a development model and technological style that could only be sustained artificially by massive foreign indebtedness that meant a generalized subsidy to all economic activity is not feasible. The Venezuelan experience of these past decades can be taken as a case-study of how inappropriate technological options, suggesting delusions of grandeur on the part of rulers, the search for accelerated profit and illicit enrichment through corruption, and the irrational preference of technocrats for great projects can cause more problems than they solve, in spite of the multi-million-dollar investments and the massive debt involved. These technological options have not been evaluated in terms of their potential economic, social, cultural, and environmental impact. Possible alternatives have not been considered. Colossal volumes of resources are concentrated on spectacular projects, ignoring the possibility of implementing more economic and more immediately viable responses to the needs of the population.

The technological dimensions can hardly be separated from the complex set of economic, political, and cultural factors to which reference has been made. Technology cannot be conceived as an independent variable. Nevertheless, a very limited weight has been assigned to technological issues in the analysis of the Venezuelan experience of the past decades. While they may not constitute the basic determinants of the country's current situation, they have played a central role. For this reason, the technological dimensions of this process will be explored and emphasized in the discussion below on the capacity of this development model to meet the basic needs and human rights of the population.


In relation to basic needs, the most severe deficiencies in Venezuela exist in respect of nourishment and the right to medical attention. Although for decades the country has had a rate of growth of the agricultural sector greater than population growth, and greater than the rate of growth of agricultural output worldwide (an accumulated average of 4.3 per cent during the period 1940-1980),69 the food situation of the Venezuelan population today can only be described as critical. The minimum wage does not cover the "basic food basket," not even by adding the direct subsidies known as "food scholarships" that are given to the poorest sectors of the copulation.70 The participation of the food category in final household spending rose from 38 per cent in 1968 to 69 per cent in 1988.71 The caloric intake of the "poor" strata of the population (61 per cent of the total) is on average only 1,850 calories daily per capita, when the daily required intake is calculated at 2,300. Even by ignoring the large differences existing in the nourishment of the different strata of the population, the average caloric intake of the entire population presents a deficit of more than 100 calories daily per capita.72 'After several decades a protein deficit reappears. . .'73 Apart from this, the environmental impact of an agricultural model that has indiscriminately used pesticides and fertilizers, and has destroyed forests and impoverished enormous expanses of soil in a few years, has been devastating.

The apparent contradiction between sustained agricultural growth during years of economic expansion and the impossibility of guaranteeing basic nourishment for the general population is explained largely by the country's prevailing model of agricultural development. This model has been conditioned more by the requirements of agribusiness than by the need to guarantee the nourishment of the population. As is true of other economic activities, agricultural development seems to have started from the basic assumption that Venezuela was a rich country. As in the most prosperous countries, the animal sector was considered to be more important than the vegetable sector. An agricultural model has been established that is highly dependent on imported inputs, making it highly vulnerable to monetary fluctuations. The adoption of the technological packages of poultry and pork production of industrialized countries means that these industries require agricultural inputs from moderate climates for concentrated animal feed used as nourishment. Imported wheat has partially displaced the rice and corn that form part of the traditional diet of the Venezuelan and can be produced in the country.

In conditions of generalized malnutrition (more than 25 per cent of the population is in a situation of extreme poverty), the fresh food categories have been displaced by processed products. More than 80 per cent of the caloric content of the diet is made up of "products in which the agricultural raw materials undergo profound transformations,"74 processes that not only make the product more expensive, but frequently impoverish (at times radically) their nutritive value. Only 9 per cent of the national food consumption is made up of fresh food.75 This prosperous agribusiness76 is not able, after so many years of oil wealth and prolonged and massive subsidies by the state, to satisfy the population's right to nutrition.

The Health Model

The perverse consequences of an inappropriate technological model in terms of its impact on human rights and the satisfaction of the basic needs of the population is equally evident in the field of health. In terms of total spending on health, the number of doctors and beds, the availability of high-technology equipment, etc., all the Venezuelan statistics would appear to be fairly satisfactory. Nevertheless, the health system is unable to offer a minimum of medical attention to most of the population.

In Venezuela the health system is so closely modelled on those of industrialized countries that the majority of the problems of cost and coverage, and policy and ethical issues in relation to medicine, which are typical of these countries are present. Additional problems exist that have to do with the absolute lack of viability of this medical model in relation to the resources and capacities of the country. Taking the technological health systems of industrialized countries especially the US model- as a reference, a highly centralized medical-technological system has been established, with a marked emphasis on hospitals and on curative and high-technology medicine, with immense imbalances in access to health services among the different sectors of the population. A large part of the important public resources that have been assigned to the health sector in the past decades has been invested in hospitals. Low priority has been given to preventive medicine, environmental improvement, and primary-level health care. The preference for the most advanced and specialized medical technology - technological options whose efficacy has frequently not been shown - leads to the channelling of a high proportion of available resources toward the purchase of expensive and sophisticated medical equipment and drugs. In contrast to the pioneering steps that have been taken in the past years in the industrialized countries,77 there is no policy of evaluation or control of this technology. Thus, there is a leek of norms or criteria on which decisions could be made for the maximization of health services for the population on the basis of available resources.

Because of this indiscriminate introduction of high technology, the overall costs of the health service rise, the tendency to specialization increases, the relationship between doctor and patient changes, substituting for the general practitioner or the internist a battery of tests that are frequently useless. Resources that could be used more fruitfully in other areas of the health system are diverted. Millions of dollars are invested in equipment that at times is not installed, or that in a short time has to be eliminated owing to lack of maintenance or the impossibility of financing the high costs of operation.78 Moreover, the structure of the health sector becomes more rigid, severely limiting the scope for future action towards reorientation of the system in terms of other priorities.

The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization have emphasized in past years the negative impact that this medical and technological model has on the right to medical assistance of the majority of the population:

If at least a part of the considerable effort being focused by industrialized countries on producing state-of-the-art technology were being used to find solutions to the pressing social and health needs of the people of this planet, there would be more reason for optimism about the role of technology in Third World societies. As it stands, technology transfer can bring its own associated problems: it frequently introduces new risks, spurs a rise in health costs, and, through synergistic effects, promotes high levels of specialization. The most fundamental problem, however, becomes evident when the social distribution of technology's benefits are analyzed.

The indiscriminate incorporation of technology is contributing to a polarization of health services within societies. While the elite in developing countries have access to private hospitals with services equivalent to those in developed countries, the rest of the population must depend on public hospitals and services frequently lacking the most critical supplies and unable to modernize their technological infrastructure. In addition, shortages of parts and deficiencies in maintenance have paralyzed many installations, affecting as much as 96 per cent of the medical equipment in extreme cases. As a result of the distortion in investment at the tertiary level and the imbalance in the health sector's institutional makeup and organization, in most developing countries, including those of

Latin America and the Caribbean, priority is given to intensive coverage of small portions of the population with the highest levels of income and fewest health risks.79

This basic option of the health system is reflected in medical teaching. The specialties, above all those related to high technology and the medical areas with the greatest development in industrialized countries, are privileged over social medicine end general practice. There is a greater emphasis on training for working conditions and medical technologies that are found only in a limited number of private clinics than on confronting the most common health problem of the Venezuelan population.

The same state of affairs is reflected in drugs. Although the epidemiological profile is different from that of industrialized countries for reasons that have to do with the age structure of the population, and with sanitary, food, and ecological conditions, there is little research on drugs oriented to the specific demands of the health situation in the country. The transnational pharmaceutical industry every year introduces new products, many of them with an effectiveness that has not been proved, or drugs that have the same therapeutic value but at a higher cost than the product that they substitute.80 A country accustomed to importing on a massive scale the most complete variety of expensive drugs today faces the impossibility of purchasing them, thus intensifying the crisis of the health sector. To the extent that hospitals are not able to supply the drugs, and that as their prices rise free medical attention is disappearing, the possibility of access to medical services is denied to the lower income strata. The pharmaceutical transnational actively oppose the manufacture of generic drugs that could significantly reduce costs.

This medical model deprives the population of the knowledge that previously gave it the capacity to deal with some degree of autonomy with its health problems. As has happened in other parts of the world, traditional medical plants (free or very inexpensive) are displaced at times by patented (expensive) drugs based on the same plants. A collective image of health care develops whereby hospital attention -preferably with examinations on the basis of high technology - is always considered as the best attention. Health care and hospital attention become identified with each other. For these cultural reasons, and because of pressures exerted by the medical community, the use of non-conventional therapies (acupuncture, homeopathy, etc.), by which many health problems could be treated in a less traumatic and expensive manner, is limited.

The privileged status of curative, hospital, high-technology medicine leads to an incapacity to respond at the other levels of the health system. It has been estimated that 80 per cent of the persons who visit hospitals suffer from minor problems that could be treated in centres of primary-level attention.81 Thus hospitals are congested and the capacity to give attention to those who require hospital care is limited. A technological model based on the great import capacity that high oil revenues and an overvalued currency generated cannot be sustained. New equipment cannot be purchased and the maintenance of existing equipment cannot be carried out. Moreover, resources for the basic supplies without which hospitals are unable to operate are unavailable. Many of them are literally on the verge of collapse.

Thus, at the time when, as a consequence of the economic crisis (unemployment, malnutrition, deterioration of public services), the need for medical attention is greater, the capacity of the health system to respond to those demands is lower. Infant mortality is increasing and endemic diseases that had been eradicated 30 years ago are reappearing.82


Regarding housing, we find the same lack of correspondence between the responses and dominant technological options83 exercised by the public and private sectors and the needs for housing of the population. Housing policies are heavily influenced by the housing models of industrialized countries, even in terms of materials, construction technology, and distribution of space, overlooking economic, cultural, and climatic differences. The housing in the private construction market is generally high-cost housing, accessible only to the very high income sectors. Public housing is characterized not only by its high unit costs, but also by the use of materials and adoption of standardized spatial distribution that impedes differential relationships with the natural environment in a country with a wide geographic diversity, and which superimposes the patterns of a private and isolated nuclear family from the middle classes of the industrialized countries on a cultural experience in which both extended family relationships and community ties persist strongly.

This mode of housing is absolutely inadequate, owing to the simple fact that the country lacks the resources to satisfy - in this manner - the housing demands of more than a small and decreasing proportion of the population.84 It is calculated that with the country's current income distribution, and on the basis of the prices of housing that the private and the public sectors now construct in what is globally the formal housing market - only one-fourth of families have the capacity to purchase housing.85 Since the rental market is virtually non-existent, a high and increasing proportion of the need for housing of the rural and urban population is solved by so-called "informal housing." This housing is based on self-construction (with or without a complement of hired wage-workers), which is progressively developed over time.

In public urban and regional development programmes, informal housing has been seen as an illegal activity that occupies land meant for other uses, or as a temporary solution destined to disappear when the housing supply of the formal market increases. As a consequence, informal housing is constructed not only without the aid of the state, but also frequently in confrontation to it.86

For the low-income population, this is the worst of all possible combinations. Of these sectors, only a small minority can aspire to have access to housing in the formal market. And the possibilities of obtaining adequate housing in the in formal market are very limited. Since public housing policy has not deemed this to be a "solution," when urban development plans are formulated the existence of zones occupied by informal housing is not considered.87 The threat of eviction, and the legal insecurity due to the lack of lawful ownership of the land occupied, may slow down investment by the inhabitants and contribute to a sensation of temporality even in settlements that are several decades old. The spontaneous nature of these settlements implies the absence of planning in the use of space, in the laying out of circulation paths, and in relation to community areas. The future provision of services (even of precarious services) proves to be much more expensive than if they had been foreseen from the beginning of the urbanization process.88

In terms of expenditure, informal housing, especially in urban areas, cannot be considered an adequate solution either. Their costs are unnecessarily high because of the progressive (unprogrammed) nature of the construction, which leads to processes of construction and demolition as the housing is consolidated and enlarged. Materials are used inefficiently, and additional costs arise as a consequence of the retail purchases of materials, transport difficulties, and the lack of mortgage financing for this informal market. Finally, enormous losses are sustained when houses are dislodged or when, as occurs frequently in the constructions on the hill slopes of Caracas, they are destroyed by landslides.

The techniques of construction with earth, which have been abandoned, could have a great importance both for economic and climatic reasons.89 There is also a great potential, which has only begun to be explored, in teens of construction materials and techniques developed specifically for the conditions in which the construction of informal housing takes place.90 As has already been mentioned in relation to the training of doctors, in spite of the existence of valuable groups of researchers working in relation to these problems, the graduates of the country's schools of architecture have a training which is highly biased toward the residential architecture or high-prestige offices of the highest income sectors of the population. They are, therefore, unable to respond to the principal challenges the country faces in the field of architecture.

In summarizing the position, it can be stated that, throughout the past decades, financial, administrative, and technological resources have been concentrated on housing policies that are not capable of satisfying the housing needs of the majority of the population. The possibilities for joint action between the capacity of the population to construct its own housing and public policy (city planning, financial and technical support) have hardly been explored. Such collaboration could achieve a realistic housing policy with an appropriate technology that is neither the standardized housing, the costs of which are beyond the real capacity of the country, nor the shacks without services in which a high proportion of the population is compelled to live.

The analysis of technological models in other fields that cannot be treated owing to limitations of space - such as the role of private automobiles, the type of tourist installation that has been produced, or the technological choices involved in huge hydroelectric dams - would allow us to reach similar conclusions regarding the perverse impact of inappropriate political and technological choices in relation to the basic needs of the majority of the population.

Environmental Impact

Finally, it is not possible to speak of the development of Venezuela during the past decades and its relationship to human rights without emphasizing the violent environmental impact of this process.91 A depreciatory relationship with the environment has predominated in which water, soil, forests, and mines have been exploited on the basis of the criterion of maximum short-run enrichment.

The most severe environmental problem that the country faces is in relation to its sources of water. A consequence of the prevailing development model has been the concentration of the population in the mountainous zones of the north and west of the country, and in a few large cities. Massive deforestation has destroyed or significantly altered the hydrographic basins, and the flow of the rivers supplying this population has dried up or been reduced. These rivers are contaminated with untreated wastes.

The two principal lakes of the country (Lake Valencia and Lake Maracaibo), are seriously threatened. The contamination of Lake Valencia has already reached the limit compatible with survival of the biological species that make up its ecosystem. "The increasing and massive death of fish is a clear indication of the ecological disaster that is occurring and it can be said that. . . in less than a decade the lake has become a reservoir of dead water." 92 Maracaibo Lake, with an area of about 13,000 square kilometres - the principal fresh-water reserve of the country - presents a high level of deterioration as a consequence of the exploitation of oil deposits, of a navigation channel that has increased the entry of salt water, and by contamination produced by agriculture, industry, and sewage water from the urban centres.93 The basins of the two principal rivers of the country, the Caroni and the Orinoco, are being subjected to deforestation by uncontrolled lumber exploitation and contamination with mercury used in the exploitation of alluvion gold. In spite of the limited population,94 and the abundant water resources of the country, the supply of water for human use is not guaranteed in the medium term in many regions of the country.

There is an accelerated process of destruction of soils, a product of the exploitation of steep Andean slopes, the deforestation of fragile soils for agricultural use, the occupation of the most fertile land of the country for industrial, urban, or tourist activities, and the effects of mechanized agriculture with abundant use of fertilizers and pesticides. The principal cities of the country, especially Caracas, present high levels of atmospheric contamination, a consequence both of industrial activity and of toxic automotive emissions. There have been repeated cases in which the toxic wastes of industrial plants have had proven ill-effects on the health of their workers or nearby populations.95

Thus, with regard to the debate on the desirability or equity of the development model that has taken place in the country, it has to be stated that the model is one which, owing to its massive destructive capacity, is simply not sustainable in the middle and long run. It is unable to guarantee the satisfaction of the basic needs of the majority of the population and represents a threat to plant, animal, and human life in the national territory.

Science, technology, and the Venezuelan political system

The final part of this paper will analyse the way in which the Venezuelan political system has dealt with the questions and challenges brought forth by the development model and the technological style described above. The problems of democracy in relation to scientific and technological development and its negative or positive impact in terms of human rights may be treated from two interrelated perspectives. In the first place is the possibility of a democratic decision-making process in relation to the main technological options that are taken in a specific society. Technological options are thus conceived as means of achieving ends that have been democratically defined. As was suggested in the first part of this paper, this democratic process is a condition without which the protection of human rights in relation to scientific and technological development - as defined in the documents that gave rise to this United Nations University research project96 - is not possible.

In this first perspective, there is little that can be said regarding the Venezuelan experience. Apart from academic debates about "another development" and proposals by ecological and alternative technology groups, the requirement of democratic control over technological decisions is not present in Venezuelan politics. The idea that democratic control of the technological process is a central dimension of the very existence of democracy in contemporary societies is, thus far, an idea foreign to this political system. The principal technological decisions of the country have been taken in the past decades by the managers of large private companies and those responsible for public investment programmes, especially the technocratic teams that head the two fundamental entrepreneurial organizations of the Venezuelan state, Petróleos de Venezuela and the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana.97 Not even in parliament is there informed discussion on the development programmes of these companies when resources are approved for new investments.98

There is a second, much more limited perspective, from which it is possible to approach the relationship between democracy and scientific and technological development. This is the demand for mechanisms by which society may regulate and control these activities in order to impede or limit their potentially harmful effects. During the first decades of the democratic system, this demand for control and regulation does not appear as a political problem. The constant growth of the economy, the basic consensus on the development model, the capacity for control by the political parties and the state over most spheres of societal life, and the weakness of civil society limit this possibility. This seems to have begun to change in recent years.

The economic crisis, the process of modernization which means that Venezuelan society can no longer be contained within the tight limits of political party and state control, and the increasing loss of prestige of both parties and state as a consequence of corruption and political patronage have begun to weaken the traditional issues of political debate. Moreover, an increasingly evident ecological depredation has contributed to an expanding public concern for the possible harmful effects of technological development on the environment and health. The media play an important role, not only by highlighting the most serious environmental problems in the country but also by providing information on debates, experiences, and struggles regarding the preservation of the environment and health taking place in the rest of the world.

Two very notable events in the past years (1987-1988) help us to understand the degree to which the significance of these issues is changing in the collective consciousness, and the new political conditions that have been forming as a consequence.99 The first of these events was the importation of 11,000 barrels of Italian toxic wastes by a company that wanted to dispose of them in Venezuelan territory. The barrels were left outdoors in Puerto Cabello100 and the neighbouring population began to feel their toxic effects. Through popular mobilization, a hunger strike, the participation of regional and local officials, technical reports by research centres, parliamentary commissions, and a wide and systematic coverage by the regional and national press, the government was pressurized until it finally reached an agreement with the Italian government to re-export the barrels. The incident concluded with a speech delivered by the President of Venezuela in the United Nations General Assembly, denouncing the use of the countries of the periphery as a depository of toxic wastes by the industrialized world.

The second event was the importation from the European Economic Community of 6,000 tons of meat contaminated by radioactivity from the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. In spite of guarantees from officials of the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance that the meat had tolerable levels of radioactivity, and in spite of the pressures of importers who tried repeatedly to place the meat on the market, the press campaign and the pressure of public opinion did not give in. The argument that hunger was worse than the possible long-term harmful effects of the consumption of the radioactive meat was not convincing, even to the lowest economic groups. Finally, many months after its importation, the meat - just as in the case of the toxic wastes -was re-exported. These two experiences would have been unthinkable in the country only a few years ago, when such subjects were the concern of only a few small environmental groups. Transformations had begun to take place in the Venezuelan political system, with an expansion of the range of topics stimulating concern, organization, and collective action.101

Constitutional and Legal Bases Human Rights in Venezuela

The Venezuelan Constitution explicitly guarantees not only civil and political rights (first-generation rights), but also second-generation rights: right to land of farmers (Article 105); protection of the family and right to housing (Article 73); protection of maternity (Article 74); protection of infancy (Article 75); right to the protection of health (Article 76); right to education (Article 78); right to work (Article 84); right to a fair wage (Article 87); right to labour stability, benefits, seniority, and severance pay (Article 88); right to social security (Article 94). In addition, Venezuela has signed and ratified102 the principal human rights agreements of the United Nations,103 the Organization of American States,104 the International Labour Organisation (ILO)105 and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The problems in relation to human rights in Venezuela do not fundamentally lie in the absence of constitutional and/or legal guarantees, but in the existence of a wide gap between those guarantees of rights and their effective protection. The standing of economic and social rights in the country has already been analysed. The violation of civil and political rights, starting with the right to life, while not comparable with the extremes reached in the Southern Cone in the 1970s and the 1980s, presents alarming dimensions. The Venezuelan Program for Education-Action in Human Rights (PROVEA) has documented for the period between October 1988 and September 1989 a total of 69 deaths "attributable to abuses of power by the forces of security," 14 of them unarmed farmers and fishermen who were massacred in an ambush prepared by the army close to the town of El Amparo on the frontier with Colombia, arousing both national public opinion and the concern of international human rights organizations.106 Hundreds of people died in the popular uprising that occurred in many cities in the country in February 1989 in response to economic adjustments imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Many died as a consequence of indiscriminate repression by the armed forces in some popular zones of Caracas. Burials in common graves and without identification have impeded a determination of the exact number of deaths. 107 The right to justice is violated systematically for a large proportion of those detained. In addition to the subhuman conditions that exist in most of the country's jails, "the average time of imprisonment of a detained person, from the time that he gives declarations to the time that he receives a first sentence, was in the last third of 1988 three years, 11 months, and 15 days.108

These violations of human rights, together with the existence of generalized corruption in the use of public resources, has led the Attorney-General to state, in his annual report to Congress, that in Venezuela "a true state of law has not developed," that "the balance of human rights is very far from being satisfactory," and that the "Venezuelan citizen does not have efficient institutions that protect him," situations that he considers cannot be tolerated in a democracy.109

If this is so in relation to first- and second-generation human rights, an even more precarious situation is to be expected in relation to third-generation rights. The only constitutional allusion in this respect refers to the role of the state in the "defence and protection of natural resources," and in relation to "indigenous people." 110 In regard to the majority of the issues that are today central ill terms of scientific and technological development, there are no up-to-date legal instruments in Venezuela capable of dealing with their magnitude and complexity. The protection of privacy - which is permanently threatened by technological processes based on computerized data - is fostered only in Article 63 of the Constitution and Article 186 of the Civil Code. These refer exclusively to the inviolability of letters, telegrams, and personal papers. Nothing is stated in relation to the unauthorized uses of the information that exists on each individual in massive, modern computer databases.111 The intervention in telephone conversations has been so recurrent that the Attorney-Getleral's Office has prepared a law destined to protect the constitutional right to privacy.112

The Law on Fertilizers and Other Agents Which are Subject to Exerting a Beneficial Action in Plants, Animals, Soils, and Waters of 3 July 1964, which establishes the control of the National Executive on "everything in relation to the preparation, importing, exporting, inspection, regulation, storage, purchase, sale, distribution and use, in general" of fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides, bactericides, herbicides, defoliants, hormones, antibiotics, etc., and the General Regulations on Pesticides (1968) have not halted the massive and uncontrolled use of these chemical agents in the country.113 There is no regular control on the levels of toxic residues in fresh foods or in agribusiness inputs. Tracing the levels of pesticides in foods is the function of the Section for Control of Pesticides of the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance. This section, in addition to having limited personnel and resources, lacks effective political support in the ministry and the results of its investigations rarely lead to penalties or to the withdrawal of contaminated food from the market.

The existence of norms and regulations, moreover, is not necessarily a guarantee that the health of the population is being protected. A few months after the accident at the nuclear plant at Chernobyl, the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance approved a resolution by which levels of radioactivity were set that would be considered acceptable for food consumed in Venezuela. Whether as a consequence of corruption114 or ignorance, levels of tolerance were permitted that were thousands of times above those considered safe intemationally. A year later, after the intense public debate that arose as a result of the importing of radioactive meat, to which we have already referred, these norms were brought up to international standards (see table 1).115 The Law of Consumer Protection (1974) establishes protection for the consumer in terms of prices, and "deceptive or unfair" advertising, as well as norms requiring that packing include weight and price of the product and that instructions and guarantees be in Spanish. 116 There are no legal instruments or institutional mechanisms to protect the consumer in relation to the possible harmful effects of the products that he consumes or uses. The consumer does not know the risks of those products.117

Table 1

Resolution July 1986

Resolution July 1987

Iodine 131

15,000 becquerel/kg

300 becquerel/kg

Cesium 134

650,000 becquerel/kg

300 becquerel/kg

Cesium 137

1,200,000 becquerel/kg

300 becquerel/kg

Strontium 90

30,000 becquerel/kg

52 becquerel/kg

Source: Official Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela, Caracas, 9 July 1986 and 30 July 1987.

In the area of drugs there is more rigorous control by the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance, through the National Institute of Hygiene. All drugs have to be authorized by the Review Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties on the basis of documents and studies presented by the applicant, and chemical, biological, sterility and innocuousness analyses (in laboratory animals) that are performed in this Institute. Nevertheless, there are neither legal norms nor resources on the basis of which a pharmacological follow-up can be done in relation to the efficacy and/or side-effects of drugs on human beings, either before or after their authorization.118

Among the areas in which there is a more serious absence of protection from the potential harmful effects of technological activities are industrial security and the working environment. In spite of the existence since 1973 of a Regulation on Hygiene and Industrial Security, the mechanisms of effective control that would permit this instrument to provide effective protection for workers have not been established.119 To this must be added the fact that for labour organizations in the country, industrial security has never been a high-priority subject. While the approval in 1986 of the Organic Law of Prevention, Labor Conditions, and Working Environment represents a significant advance from the legal point of view, it has not had a noticeable impact on the supervision of working environments. This is a consequence both of deficiencies in the legal text and of political and economic pressures to impede its application. Some of the regulations are excessively broad in scope and there is no relationship between the controls provided for and the mechanisms established to enforce them. Since it is not possible to carry out all the requirements contemplated in the law, the distinction between compliance and non-compliance with the law is blurred and the law loses its efficacy.120 There has been strong resistance to the effective enforcement of the norms contemplated in this law, both by the private sector and the principal business organizations of the state, as well as a lack of political will on the part of the executive to apply it. As a consequence, four years after its enactment, the public agency responsible for this law, the National Institute of Labor Pro section and Security, has not been created. Meanwhile, the law is yet another document without any effect on working conditions.121

Environmental Legislation

Apart from some fields of medicine,122 the only other area related to scientific and technological development in which there are important legal norms is environmental protection. Analysing the norms and the institutions in this area in which there is a relatively more developed normative body - we can detect the advances and the limitations that currently exist in the country in the regulation of scientific and technological development.

The constitutional foundations of environmental law in Venezuela kc in Article 106 of the Constitution, which relates to the conservation and defence of natural resources.123 Other provisions of the Constitution provide for the faculty to plan and promote production and regulate the circulation, distribution, and consumption of wealth (Article 98) and set limits on the exercise of private property, whether because some economic activities "of public interest" may be reserved to the state for "reasons of national convenience" (Article 97) or because of the restrictions and obligations that may be established by law "with the purpose of public utility or social interest" (Article 99).124

The principal Venezuelan legal instrument referring to environmental affairs is the Organic Law of the Environment of 1976. In view of the limited political power of the environmental movement of the period, and opposition by private and public entrepreneurs to strict environmental norms, this law was drawn up more as an overall declaration of intention in relation to environmental policy than as a precise legal vehicle capable of protecting the environment. It represents an attempt to cover in global terms, with a single legal instrument, the growing environmental problems of the country.125 As a legal norm for environmental protection important deficiencies can be detected in this text.126 In the first place is the definition of the activities that are to be limited or controlled. It is broad and imprecise. Article 20 defines the following activities as ones that degrade the environment:

1. Those that directly or indirectly contaminate or degrade the air, water, marine bottoms, the soil, or the subsoil or unfavourably affect the fauna and flora.
2. Harmful alterations of the topography.
3. Harmful alterations of the natural flow of water.
4. The sedimentation of the courses and deposits of water.
5. Harmful changes in the bed of a body of water.
6. The introduction and use of non-biodegradable products and substances.
7. Those that produce bothersome and harmful noises.
8. Those that degrade the landscape.
9. Those that modify the climate. 10. Those that produce ionizing radiations.
11. Those that promote the accumulation of residuals, garbage, and wastes.
12. Those that promote the eutrophication of lakes and lagoons.
13. Any other activities able to alter the natural ecosystems and negatively affect the health and welfare of man.

That is, practically any human activity. According to Article 19 of this law, all these activities are "subject to the control of the National Executive through its competent authorities. . ." There is no definition of permissible damage that would allow the establishment of limits between the on the environment that may be authorized and those that must not be authorized. A law that appears in its text to be very strict is not necessarily the most rigorous. As was indicated previously in relation to the Organic Law of Prevention, Working Conditions, and Labour Environment, when activities are prohibited or regulated in a much more extended form than it is practically possible to control,127 the notion of what constitutes compliance or violation of the law is lost, since it is necessarily violated in a general way. Since a definition of permissible damage does not exist, activities able to degrade the environment "that do not cause irreparable damages" may be authorized "when they provide evident economic or social benefits" (Article 21). Such discretionary regulations make it difficult for the functionaries in charge of their implementation to resist pressures from powerful political or economic groups to have their projects approved. It is, moreover, a potential source of corruption.

In the second place, and related to the previous point, in this law there is no correspondence between the responsibility for control and regulation established for the state and the means by which the state may comply with these requirements. This may be partially explained by the tradition of legalism or legalistic ritualism that has been so generalized in Latin America. It would appear that the source of problems lies in the absence of adequate legislation. As a consequence, the solution is in a law that prohibits those things that are considered negative. There is a greater emphasis on the text of the law than on mechanisms and administrative procedures to enforce it.

In the third place is the lack of penalties for violations. According to Article 36, penal norms must be decreed, including fines and imprisonment, However, these norms have still not been established.128 While a global penal norm has not been approved, the penalities to be applied are those of previous laws relating to environmental protection. These are in some cases several decades old, and their capacity to regulate those activities currently considered to represent the greatest environmental threats is limited.129 As for penalties, the fines contemplated in these laws are very light, and, because of inflation in recent years, have become frankly ridiculous. The Law on Protection of Wild Fauna (1970) includes fines from a minimum of US$2 to a maximum of US$1,000 in cases of commercial exploitation in violation of the provisions of this law. In the Law on Fishing, fines vary from $1 to a maximum of US$200. The Forest Law on Soils and Water (1966) contemplates fines that vary from US$2 to US$100. The Law of National Health (1942) sets fines that vary from $0.20 to a maximum of US$800.130

The other principal instrument of environmental protection is the Law of Territorial Regulation, with territorial regulation being understood as:

The regulation and promotion of the location of human settlements, of economic and social activities of the population, as well as physical and spatial development, in order to achieve a harmony between the greatest welfare of the population, the optimization of the exploitation and use of natural resources, and the protection and improvement of the environment, as fundamental objectives of integral development. (Article 2)

The special uses defined in the National Plan of Territorial Regulation, as well as the Regional Plans of Territorial Regulation, those of urban planning, and those for areas under the System of Special Administration131 are the base on which a specific public or private activity that has special influence" can be authorized.

The Institutional System in relation to Environmental Affairs

A few months after the law of the environment was approved in 1976, the first Ministry of the Environment in Latin America was created as the agency in charge of enforcing this law.132 The new ministry began with a great deal of activity. From 1980 to 1982, together with the United Nations Programme for Development, the most important environmental study ever performed in the country was carried out, the project on Venezuelan Environmental Systems, which would serve as a base for the subsequent preparation of the plans for territorial development. Among the personnel of this ministry have been high-level professionals, strongly motivated in relation to environmental problems.

Nevertheless, it is not possible to affirm - 15 years after the Organic Law of the Environment was sanctioned, and the Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources created - that in Venezuela there is something that even approaches adequate environmental protection. In these years the environmental deterioration of the country has not only not been halted, but has increased. Why has this happened in spite of an increasing concern in public opinion and laws and institutions destined expressly for the preservation of the environment? The explanation will have to be found principally in two basic limitations on the possibility of regulation of technological and scientific activity in the country: the hegemonic style of development, and the relative weakness of the political system.

The legal norms and institutions established to regulate environmental impact are not conceived in terms designed to secure a sustainable development model that is compatible in the long run with the preservation of the environment. The environmental dimension has not been incorporated as a central consideration in decision-making in reference to the future of the country. On the contrary, an attempt is made to regulate and control activities in a piecemeal fashion in order to minimize their possible negative effects. An effort is made to limit excesses against a background in which the massive exploitation of natural resources is an available option. The technological style and its deprecatory impact in terms of the use of water, energy, and other natural resources is not under discussion.

The impossibility of effectively controlling environmental deterioration without a reformulation of the development model is clearly presented in many of the documents of the Ministry of the Environment. Representative of this posture is the view that this ministry has of the Plan for Territorial Regulation.

The central nucleus of the National Plan for Territorial Regulation consists of a proposal for an alternative scenario based on substantial changes in the current development style, understanding this as the manner in which resources are assigned to answer the questions of what, for whom, how to produce the goods and services that satisfy the majority of the population and that guarantee the preservation and quality of the environment and of the natural resources.

In that proposed alternative scenario, the style of development meets the following characteristics: it would be decentralizing, it would rationally and primarily use our own natural resources as consumer goods and as raw materials, it would use conservationist technologies, which generate employment and are able integrally to take advantage of those resources; it would foster the full participation of the population and would promote collective habits, in accordance with our productive capacities and with the conservation of the environment and the improvement of the quality of life.133

This vision is radically contrary to the one that orients the principal public agencies in charge of economic decisions, whether they are the ministries of planning and finance or the main public enterprises. The Ministry of the Environment is a weak ministry, with little political weight. It does not have a role in the making of major economic decisions.

This leads to the second aspect, the weakness of the political system, the depth of the imbalance between the complexity, challenges, and demands of scientific and technological development and the capacity of the Venezuelan political system to monitor and regulate these activities. If in industrialized countries the law is constantly lagging behind scientific and technological developments,134 in the countries of the periphery the distance between the challenges that the political system faces in the area of technological impact and its capacity to respond is even greater. With far fewer resources and more precarious political institutions, they must face in a short span of time many of the same problems towards which the industrialized countries have been developing responses for decades. The Venezuelan state- which is typically described as a strong, hypertrophied, and very interventionist state - is in reality a weak state, with a limited capacity to resist the external pressures of private interests.135

This weakness of the political system can be seen in relation to each one of the steps in the regulation of environmental impact. Congress cannot seriously consider the multiplicity of issues that it faces in the preparation of laws. Congressmen, committees and subcommittees lack the resources, information, technical support, and research teams necessary to study profoundly the multiple problems in relation to which they are to legislate. The members of Congress dedicate more time to party political activities than to analysing the matters about which they have to vote. Thus they vote on subjects with which they are not familiar and, as a consequence, declarations of intention are substituted for precise regulations. This is an expression of the profound imbalance existing between the power of the executive and the other branches of government. As Congress lacks its own studies, in the majority of the issues that it discusses, it follows party lines and/or proposals presented by the executive. The inability to take informed decisions is particularly dramatic when members of parliament must debate the public budget or investment plans presented by the technocrats who manage state enterprises. These rarely undergo any modification.

The result of these limitations of the legislature is a complex legal system, full of empty areas, superpositions, and inconsistencies.136

The Venezuelan legal system, in spite of the number of norms that makes it up, presents empty areas and antagonisms. In effect, a large part of the laws allows transcendental elements for decision-making to escape their purview or, in many cases, permits a discretionary interpretation that favours the possibility of evading it or that legitimates and perpetuates situations contrary to those that have been announced for the environmental policy. The fact that there is no precision in the competence of each law, and the interference or superposition of attributions, further aggravate the problem. In many cases, neither the citizen nor the functionary can define, exactly, which law they must turn to, to determine the most convenient legal action or procedure.

There are 80 laws and regulations and more than 400 resolutions, provisions, and specific decrees that, in one way or another, are related to environmental problems. In the face of each specific problem there practically arises a new norm which, in the majority of cases, adds to the tangle of those that already exist and function with the same old structure.137

The judiciary, in addition to facing the application of this complex set of norms, presents high levels of corruption that make it extremely difficult for the laws to be applied with the same rigour to those with high-level political connections or the resources with which to bribe a judge.

Similar weaknesses exist in the agencies of the executive in charge of environmental affairs. The slight political weight of the Ministry of the Environment in decision-making on important economic issues has already been pointed out. Moreover, there is a wide lack of proportion between the numerous functions assigned to this ministry and its personnel and financial resources. The ministry not only has a limited capacity to affect the definition of global economic policies, but also lacks the political support to take the preventive and corrective measures for environmental protection that the law assigns to it.138 The legitimacy of its intervention in these areas is moreover being questioned in a neo-liberal ideological environment that in principle sees all state intervention as suspicious and tends to assume that penalties are an abuse of power.139

The armed forces present severe limitations in their vigilance and control of activities capable of harming the environment, especially in relatively unpopulated zones and frontier areas and in the territorial sea. In addition to corruption - which in this case is also a significant problem - the National Guard lacks the necessary equipment to carry out surveillance. We are again in the presence of the perverse effects of inappropriate technological options. While millions of dollars are spent on high-technology weapons such as missiles and Mirage and F-16 airplanes, there are no resources to purchase the more modest, less spectacular equipment that would be necessary for environmental vigilance .140

Given this situation in state institutions, a permanent alertness by civil society would be required to guarantee environmental protection. However, in spite of the increasing concern of public opinion for matters relating to the environment and health, and the proliferation of non-governmental environmental and ecological organizations in recent years, it is not possible to speak of an organized civil society able to respond to the challenges of environmental destruction or, more generally, to the monitoring and regulation of scientific and technological development.

The environmental organizations that have had the most success in Europe and the United States - such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, or the Environmental Defence Fund - are characterized by the availability of considerable financial resources and a high level of expertise. They have high-level personnel in relation to each of the matters that these organizations deal with. This permits them to debate with the "legitimate" language of science and technology,141 to anticipate the consequences of technological decisions before these become noticeable, and even to formulate alternatives. In Venezuela, the relevant organizations lack the political strength, resources, and technical knowledge to be able to negotiate alternatives to those investment projects that are considered to be environmentally harmful. Struggles against actions that produce damage to populations or the environment usually arise after the damage has already occurred. The most important environmental conflicts tend to deal with visible damage, often when it has become irreversible.

One of the explicit goals of the Organic Law of the Environment, and a declared priority since the creation of the Ministry of the Environment, has been the promotion of the participation of organized communities in environmental affairs. The first attempt was the creation of the Councils for Conservation, Defence, and Improvement of the Environment. This experiment failed, fundamentally owing to the attempts at control and manipulation by the ministry, and the organization of these councils in a local, fragmented fashion that impeded attention to the main environmental problems that necessarily transcended local contexts. Starting from the recognition of this failure, in recent years a new structure that hopes to overcome the limitations of the previous experience, the Organization of Relations with the Organized Community, is being forged.142

Nevertheless, both the policy of the ministry of promoting the participation of organized communities and the attempts of non-governmental organizations to influence technological decisions that might have a significant environmental impact come up against a severe barrier: limitations in access to information. Without access to timely and reliable information on the investments that are being programmed, little can be done to advance democratic participation. Mega-development projects (highways, dams, steel mills, refineries, etc.), both public and private, are formulated over years of study and involve large investments. In Venezuela there is no legal norm that permits affected or interested persons or institutions to have access to information on these projects, until they are so advanced that in practical terms they prove to be irreversible.143 When information is requested from the Ministry of the Environment on the studies on environmental impact - which according to the Law of the Environment must be carried out for a specific investment to be authorized- the functionaries reply that these studies have not been carried out, or that they are confidential.144 This expresses the authoritarian nature of technocratic thought which considers that public debate on matters of technical complexity beyond the capacity of comprehension, not only of the majority of the population but also of its elected representatives, is totally senseless.

A Prospective View

Arising from the above analysis it is difficult to reach optimistic conclusions in relation to the capability of the Venezuelan political system effectively to regulate scientific and technological activities that may have potential harmful effects on human rights. As was indicated previously, the economic and political crisis has provoked important processes of change in the country, among which of primary importance are the demands for democratization. These are expressed in the strengthening of civil society, in the demands for democratization of political parties, and in reforms tending to the decentralization of the state, which have led - for the first time under the current democratic system to the direct election of mayors and governors.

Nevertheless, these democratic tendencies are being counteracted by the authoritarian implications involved in the adjustment process that has been imposed on the country by the International Monetary Fund as a condition for the renegotiation of the foreign debt. The weakness of the Venezuelan government in its negotiations with international financial organizations is such that the very notion of national sovereignty becomes blurred. The principal lines of the economic adjustment programme that the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez has carried out since the beginning of 1989 were not decided by the Venezuelan people in the elections of December 1988. They had already been defined by a mission of the IMF that visited the country one year earlier.145

The effects of the economic crisis and the policy of adjustment on the regulation of scientific and technological activities, and in particular on the control of environmental impacts, are manifold. In the first place, it has to be pointed out that the priority given to the generation of exports has implied a lax position on the part of the government in relation to activities capable of generating foreign exchange, even at the cost of severe human or environmental damage. Among these activities the following stand out:

1. Lumber exploitation. This is carried out in systematic violation of the norms for the protection of forests existing in the Venezuelan laws and - in the specific case of the Sierra de Perijá in the western part of the country - it is endangering the survival of the Yucpa and Bari Indians through the destruction of their natural environment.

2. Trawling. Excess fishing and fishing in unauthorized zones threaten the fish resources of the country and directly affect small-scale fishing along the north coast of the country.

3. The exploitation of gold. This represents the most systematic process of environmental destruction that the country now faces, with grave human and environmental consequences. In the exploitation of alluvion gold, thousands of miners use motorized water pumps to remove sand and mud, using mercury as a means of achieving the precipitation of gold. Thus the course of rivers is altered, vegetation is destroyed, great volumes of sediments that reduce the useful life of dams are generated, water is contaminated with mercury - through which it enters the food cycle - and indigenous populations are displaced. The survival of the Yanomami, who live between Venezuela and Brazil, is especially threatened. They are being subjected to a process of extermination by the activity of the gold miners, especially the Brazilian garimperos.146

4. Tourism. The importance given to this activity in the generation of foreign exchange is probably the reason why an industry that has produced so much ecological destruction along the Venezuelan coast has developed with such limited environmental controls.147

In the second place, the process of economic readjustment and redefinition of the role of the state means not only that companies are privatized and that the scope of the entrepreneurial state is reduced, but also that public resources for research and regulation are cut down. As was previously indicated, there is a tendency to delegitimize the regulatory action of the state. The agencies in charge of enforcing environmental protection laws are thereby weakened even more. A third consequence of the crisis and of the adjustment policy is the new emphasis on the need to attract foreign investment. Since this is conceived as competition between countries to offer the best possible conditions to attract investment, regulations and environmental controls (or those relating to any other aspect of scientific and technological development) are seen as a threat to the country's future prosperity. Rigorous environmental protection can scare off foreign capital.

Finally, the nature of the process of negotiation of adjustment policies with international financial agencies necessarily implies a strengthening of the centralization of power in the top negotiating circles of the government, thus bringing to a halt the process of decentralization that the country seeks to achieve. This reinforces the bases of a profoundly centralized decision-making process governed more by the short-run search for macroeconomic balances than the satisfaction of the basic needs of the population, or the achievement of a development style which is sustainable in the long run and compatible with environmental protection.


1. Hassan Hanafi, "New Social Science. Some Reflections" (Cairo University, Cairo, n.d.) (mimeo).

2. In the words of Frances Stewart, the "proliferation of internationally agreed human rights with little attempt to define them more precisely, monitor or enforce them is likely to debase the status of human rights. The legal authority of the concept may be undermined, since there is little point in making laws if no attempt is made to define what the laws mean or seriously enforce them. The concept of human rights may also lose its moral and political force. The concept of human rights will come to be regarded as a fairly harmless way of occupying members of the UN General Assembly, international lawyers, and some academics." "Basic Needs Strategies, Human Rights and the Right to Development," Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 3 (1989).

3. On the relations between ends and means in modern technology, see Langdon Winner, Autonomous Technology (Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought) (MIT Press, Cambridge, 1977), especially chapter 6.

4. See Edgardo Lander, Contributíon a crítica del marxismo realmente existente: Verdad, ciencia y tecnologia (Contribution to the Critique of Marxism as It Actually Exists: Truth, Science, and Technology) (Consejo de Desarrollo Científico y Humanístico, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, 1990), 111.4: "Parenthesis epistemologico: concocimiento y libertad" (Epistemological Parenthesis: Knowledge and Freedom).

5. On science as one among many possible alternative cultural options and scientific ideology as a threat to democracy, the works of Paul Feyerabend are particularly illuminating. See Science in a Free Society (New Left Books, London, 1978).

6. United Nations University, "Project Document. Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development" (UNU, Tokyo, revised 20 November 1986), p. 4 (mimeo).

7. "Popular Sovereignty, State Autonomy and Private Property" (Department of Political Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, 1984) (mimeo). Quoted in Samuel Bowels and Herbert Gintis, Democracy and Capitalism. Property, Community and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought (Basic Books Inc., New York, 1986), p. 182.

8. Dorothy Nelkin, Technological Decisions and Democracy. European Experiments in Public Participation (Sage Publications, Beverly Hills/London, 1977), p. 12.

9 Nelkin (note 8 above), p. 10

10. Nelkin (note 8 above), p. 8.

11. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Technology on Trial. Public Participation in Decision-making Related to Science and Technology (Paris, 1979).

12. Conflicts related to the basic reshaping of traditional society by modern science and technology are by no means unique to contemporary third-world countries. In most of the Western world urban industrial society developed as a traumatic process which was harshly imposed upon the majority of the population. A particularly clear societal perception of the dilemmas between two alternative and conflicting social and cultural orders occurred in the United Kingdom in the 1830s. Only after industrial civilization, with its new conception of time, its work ethics, schedules, and rhythms, had been thoroughly imposed in spite of widespread popular opposition, only after at least one generation of workers had been socialized in the new culture of industrial society, was voting granted to the working class. Nothing resembling a democratic decision-making process characterized the English transition to industrial society. On the creation of work discipline and transformations in the conception of time in the English Industrial Revolution see E. P. Thompson's classic paper, "Time, Work-discipline, and Industrial Capitalism", Past and Present (Oxford), no. 38 (1967).

13. On the relation between technological options and basic needs in the third world, see Frances Stewart, Technology and Underdevelopment (Macmillan, London, 1977), and Planning to Meet Basic Needs (Macmillan, London, 1985).

14. The model of development characteristic of the NlCs in South-East Asia - based on the export of industrial goods to developed countries - is not likely to be a successful strategy for most of the peripheral world. The world economy is not expanding at the same rate as it did before the oil crisis in the early 1970s, when there was a rapid increase in the demand for imported industrial goods by developed countries. There is increased political pressure within developed countries to protect industrial employment by multiplying tariffs and other commercial barriers for imported goods. On the other hand, the success of the export-driven strategy by a handful of countries with limited populations had much to do with the size of their economies in relation to that of their export markets. There would be a qualitative change of scale if the same strategy were adopted by countries with combined populations hundreds of times greater than that of the Four Tigers. See Journal of Development Studies, Special Issue on "Third World Industrialization in the 1980s: Open Economies in a Closing World," vol. XXI, no. I (1984).

15. For a critical discussion of the social and economic implications of the Green Revolution and modern agribusiness in third-world food production and consumption, see Andrew Pearse, Seeds of Plenty, Seeds of Want. Social and Economic Implications of the Green Revolution (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1980); Barbara Dinham and Colin Hines, Agribusiness in Africa. A Study of the Impact of Big Business on Africa's Food and Agricultural Production (Africa World Press, Trenton, 1984); and Kumar Rupesinghe, "Export Orientation and the Right to Food: The Case of Sri Lanka's Agricultural Promotion Zones," in Asbjorn Eide, Wenche Barth Eide, Susantha Goonatilake, Joan Gussow, and Omawale, Food as a Human Right (United Nations University, Tokyo, 1984).

16. Saneh Chamarik, "Technological Self-reliance and Cultural Freedom," in C.G. Weeramantry, ea., Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (United Nations University, Tokyo, 1990), p. 46.

17. Thus, for example, the United Kingdom has had the resources to deal with industrial and automobile pollution in London, while the levels of contamination in third-world cities tend only to increase.

18. On international trade in toxic waste, see Jim Yallette, "El comercio internacional de desechos. Inventario de Greenpeace" (International Trade in Waste. A Greenpeace Inventory) (Greenpeace, Luxembourg, January-February 1990) (mimeo).

19. H.C.F. Mansilla, "La percepción sociopolítica de los problemas ecológicos y recursos naturales en America Latina" (The Sociopolitical Perception of Ecological Problems and Natural Resources in Latin America), Nueva sociedad, no. 87 (1987): 120.

20. Julio Cesar Pineda, "Consideraciones sobre el tratado de proscripción de las armas nucleares en America Latina. Tratado de Tlatelolco: su aplicabilidad y eficacia" (Considerations on the Treaty Bannig Nuclear Weapons in Latin America. The Tlatelolco Treaty: Its Applicability and Efficiency) (Caracas, n.d.) (mimeo).

21. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, I June 1989), p. 4.

22. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 11 February 19X3), p. 6. "The nuclear weapons issue surfaced - once again - in the Brazilian press. The fuss started after army minister General Leonidas Pires Goncalves reportedly said - and later denied - that he had called for the country to develop nuclear weapons to offset a possible threat from neighboring Argentina. The threat would ostensibly be Argentina's ability to produce a nuclear bomb and its supposed claim on Rio Grande do Sul, a state on Brazil's southern border with Argentina. . . The controversy was not an isolated event. It came in the light of statements by Brigadier Hugo de Oliveira Paiva, director of the Centro Tecuológico de Aeronáutica (CTA) in São Jose dos Campos, who said that Brazil is able to build its own atomic bomb. Building a bomb, says Paiva, is an issue in the hands of the national security council (CSN) and 'depends only upon a political decision.'" Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 18 October 1985), p. 6.

23. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 18 October 1985), p. 27.

24. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 11 February 1983), p. 6.

25. See note 24 above.

26. See note 24 above.

27. Christopher Flavin, Reassessing Nuclear Power: The fallout from Chernobyl, Worldwatch Paper 75 (Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C., 1987), p. 45, note 103.

28. Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, I0 July 1986), p. 6.

29. Flavin (note 27 above), p. 54, table 9.

30. Flavin (note 27 above), p. 45, note 103.

31. Flavin (note 27 above).

32. The following is a selection from the ample Latin American literature on this general perspective: CEPAUR, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Desarrollo a escala humana: Una opcíon para el futuro (I)evelopment on a Human Scale: An Option for the Future), Development Dialogue, Special Issue (1986); Anibal Pinto, "Notes sobre estilos de desarrollo en America Latina" (Notes on Styles of Development in Latin America), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 1 (1976); Marshall Wolfe, "Pare 'otro desarrollo': Requisitos y proposiciones" (For "Another development": Requirements and Propositions), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 4 (1977); Gorge Graciarena, "Poder y estilos de desarrollo. Una perspective heterodoxa" (Power and Develop ment Styles: A Heterodox Perspective), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 1 (1976); Enrique Oteiza, ea., Autoafirmacion colectiva: Una estrategia alternativa de desarrollo (Collective Self-affirmation: An Alternative Development Strategy) (rondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1983); Gonzalo Martner and Enzo Falleto, eds., Repensar el futuro: Estilos de desarrollo (Rethinking the Future: Styles of Development) (Nueva Sociedad, Caracas, 1986).

33. Amilcar O. Herrera, "Science, Technology and Human Rights: A Prospective View," in Weeramantry (note 16 above); Amilcar Herrera, "Prospective científica y tecnológica: Un marco de referencia" (Scientific and Technological Prospective: A Frame of Reference), Cuadernos para a discussao, no. 1 (1984).

34. For further critical debates in relation to the dominant model of technological development in Latin America, see: CLACSO, David y Goliath (Special Issue on technology), vol XVII, no. 51 (1987), and Fernando Garcia Cambeiro, ea., Identidad cultural, ciencia y tecnología Aportes para un debate latinoamericano (Cultural Identity, Science, and Technology. Contributions for a Latin American Debate) (Colección Estudios Latinoamericanos, Buenos Aires, 1987).

35. Rita McWilliams Tullberg, "La deuda externa por gastos militares en los páises en desarrollo no petroleros, 1972-1982" (Foreign Debt Due to Military Expenditures in Non-oil-producing Developing Countries, 1972-1982), Comercio exterior, vol. 37, no. 3 (1987): 196-203.

36. "Brazil: Leading Arms Dealer," Latin American Times (business and financial intelligence newsletter), vol. 8, no. 9 (1988): 1.

37. "Industry Gears Up for Arms Output. Mobilization Scheme Has Already Involved 350 Firms," Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 10 January 1984), p. 7.

38. "Preparing for a 'High-tech' Leap. Exocet has a Home-grown Rival," Latin American Regional Reports (London, 9 August 1985), p. 5.

39. In Brazil and Chile this veto power of the military has been explicitly incorporated in the new constitutions that prepared the way for civilian governments.

40. See Origenes (Mexico City, April 1986).

41. On the environmental impact of the dominant style of development in Latin America see: Raul Prebisch, "Biósfera y desarrollo" (The Biosphere and Development); Nicolo Gligo, "La dimension ambiental en el desarrollo agrícola de America Latina" (The Environmental Dimension of Agricultural Development in Latin America); Fernando H. Cardoso, "Desarrollo y medio ambiente en Brazil" (Development and Environment in Brazil); Mostafa K. Tolba, "Los actuales estilos de desarrollo y los problemas del medio ambiente" (Present Styles of Development and Environmental Problems), in Revista de la CEPAL, no. 12 (1980); Roberto Guimaraes, "La ecopolitica en el desarrollo del Brasil" (Ecopolitics in the Development of Brazil), Revista de la CEPAL, no. 38 (1989); Osvaldo Sunkel and Nicolo Glico. eds., Estilos de desarrollo y medio ambiente en América Latina (Styles of Development and Environment in Latin America), (rondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico City, 1980), two vols.

42. Philip M. Fearnside highlights the relations between scientific expertise and issues affecting the decision-making process in the POLONORESTE Development Plan in the State of Rondonia, in the south-western portion of the Amazon. See "Settlement in Rondonia and the Token Role of Science and Technology in Brazil's Amazonian Development Planning," Interciencia (Caracas), vol. 11, no. 5 (1986): "The decision-making process in use in Rondonia, as elsewhere in the Brazilian Amazon, gives inadequate weight to long-term effects and even to medium or short-term human impact. Among the conclusions that follow from the case of the inauspicious colonization plans in Rondonia is the need to restructure the decision-making process so that agronomic, environmental and human aspects of any proposed development are evaluated early in the decision process. The evaluation must be prior, not only to the physical initiation of the public works involved, but also to the taking of any decision on eventual realization of the overall developmental schemes in question.... Understanding the process of settlement, deforestation and land use change is one of the areas in which scientists can contribute important information to planning. Other areas include estimation of human carrying capacity, consequences of conversions to different land uses, and the functioning of potentially sustainable agricultural and forest exploitation systems.... While research in these subjects should be a high priority, already available information is sufficient to identify many likely ill effects of current development policy.... The decision-making process that can be expected to minimize the human problems surrounding the transition must include evaluations of costs and benefits prior to commitments to any given development scheme" (pp. 234-236).

43. Survival International, Bound in Misery and Iron. The Impact of the Grande Carajas Programme on the Indians of Brazil: A Report from Survival International with an Environment Assessment by Friends of the Earth (London, 1987), p. 5.

44. See note 43 above, p. 13.

45. See note 43 above, pp. 13-14.

46. "At its 1983 annual meeting the Sociedade Brasileira pare o Progresso da Ciencia (SOPC) warned that the rate of deforestation and 'irrational' occupation of the region could wipe out the Amazon forest within decades." Lath, American Reports. Brazil (London, 23 October 1986), p. 5.

47. Sadruddin Aga Khan and Hassan bin Talal (Co-chairmen), Indigenous Peoples. A Global Quest for Justice. A Report for the Independent Commission on International Humanitarian Issues (Zed Books, London, 1987).

48. "Government officials are said to be deeply concerned over the widespread reactions at home and abroad, including front-page treatment in The New York Times, to the late-December murder of leading ecologist Francisco Chico Méndez, internationally known for his campaigning against the destruction of the Amazonian rain-forest.... His critics in Brazil maintained that he was at least partially to blame for the delay of a US$500 m World Bank loan to Brazil's energy sector.... Brazilian environmentalists have launched a campaign to block foreign loans until Méndez's killers are brought to justice." Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, 9 February 1989), p. 5.

49. Robert Goodland, "Environmental Aspects of Amazonian Development Projects in Brazil," Interciencia (Caracas), vol. 11, no. I (1986): 16.

50. Goodland (note 49 above), p. 19.

51. "The increasing international concern over the future of the Amazonia is breeding a new variety of nationalism, even xenophobia, among the right-wingers, landowners and sectors of the military. Nationalism and Amazonia have long been closely linked. . . But whereas the campaigners of yore were left-wingers and declared nationalists, today one finds a former guerrilla leader of the local Green Party (Partido Verde) and a petista peasant union leader, both raising the environmentalist banner and briefing a visiting mission of US legislators." "Amazonia breeds a new nationalism. Now it is the right that worries about imperialism." Latin American Weekly Report (London, 9 February 1989), p. 4.

52. "For the military, who see the region as a kind of strategic reserve vital to 'national security interests' any talk of turning Amazonia into some kind of 'international nature reserve' is anathema. There are fears that military objections on 'security grounds' will link up with use of nationalist banners by the big landowners, who have been blamed by environmentalists for much of the depredation of the rain-forest. As the left is prominently represented in environmental campaigns, the combination could prove a dangerous political mix, say some observers." "Condemnation of Amazon Destruction Fuels Dangerous Xenophobic Backlash," Lath/ American Regional Report. Brazil (London, 27 April 1989), p. 1.

53. Speech to the military, El National, Caracas, 22 April 1989, p. A-4.

54. "Summit Highlights Debt-Environment Link. Amazon Pact Presidents Reject Outside Interference," Latin American Regional Reports. Brazil (London, l June 19X9), p. 4.

55. There are, for example, an estimated 50,000 garimpeiros in Yanomami reserves in the Brazilian Amazon. In reaction to a government threat of eviction from 2.4 million hectares of Indian land, the head of the miners' union in the State of Roraima, José Texeira Peixoto, declared: "We don't want war, but we will fight it if necessary." Diario de Caracas, Caracas, 6 January 1990, p. 9.

56. Central Bank of Venezuela, La Economía Venezolana en los últimos treinta y cinco años (The Venezuelan Economy in the Past 35 Years) (Caracas, 1978), p. 11.

57. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 17.

58. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 21.

59. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 263.

60. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 273.

61. Margarita Lopez Maya, Luis Gómez Calcaño, and Thaís Maingón, De punto trio al pacto social (From Punto Fijo to the Social Pact) (rondo Editorial Acta Cieutífica Venezolana, Caracas, 1989), pp. 62-91.

62. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 56 above), p. 26.

63. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1974 (Economic Report 1974) (Caracas, 1975), p. 13.

64. With very pointed exceptions, as, for example, Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo and Proceso Politico, CAP cinco años: Un juicio critico (CAP Five Years: A Critical Assessment) (Caracas, Ateneo de Caracas, 1978).

65. This is the Venezuelan Investment Fund. In 1974 this financial fund administered resources of the same magnitude as the total national budget in the previous year. Central Bank of Venezuela (note 63 above), p. 155.

66. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1986 (Economic Report 1986) (Caracas, 1987), p. 133.

67. World Bank, Informe sobre el desarrollo mundial 1989 (Report on World Development 1989) (Washington, D.C., 1989), p. 229, table 21.

68. Central Bank of Venezuela, Informe económico 1988 (Economic Report 1988) (Caracas, 1989), pp. 60, 61, and 68. Own calculations.

69. Gustavo Pinto Cohen, "La agriculture: Revision de una Ieyenda negra" (Agriculture: Review of a Black Legend), in Mosés Naim and Ramón Piñango, eds., El cave

Venezuela. Una ilusión de armonía (The Case of Venezuela - An Illusion of Harmony) (Ediciones IESA, Caracas, 1984), p 505.

70. Armando Martel et al., "Perspectives agroalimentarias 1990" (Agro-food Perspectives 1990) (Caracas, 1990), chart on p. 24 (mimeo)

71. CAVIDEA (Venezuelan Chamber of the Food Industry), "La estrategia agro-alimentaria nacional (resumed)" (The National Agro-food Strategy - summary), Vll National Assembly, Caracas, 25-29 October 1989, p. 6 (mimeo).

72 Armando Martel (note 70 above), charts on pp. 24 and 25. "In the course of 1989, food consumption reached critical levels. The calory availability was below the level of the requirements recommended by the specialists in the area, and the pro-tein intake was dangerously approaching that limit. Naturally, the lowest income sectors are very much below those levels . . . Poverty has reached more than 80 per cent of the population and extreme poverty has reached 40 per cent. That is, four of every ten Venezuelans, even allocating all their income to the purchase of food, would not manage to meet their minimum nutritional requirements, and therefore they are subject to a process of chronic malnutrition, in many cases with irreversible effects." Juan Luis Hernández, Armando Martel, Carmelo Ecarri, and Bernardo Gonzalez, "Vigencia y perspectives de la planificación agrícola en la actual estrategia de desarrollo nacional. Caso Venezuela" (Validity and Perspectives of Agricultural Planning in the Current Strategy of National Development. Case of Venezuela) (Caracas, 1990), pp. 7-8 (mimeo).

73. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 21

74. Hernández et al. (note 72 above), p. 6.

75. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 13.

76. A total of 37 per cent of the added value of manufacturing activity is contributed by the food sector. CAVIDEA (note 71 above), p. 8.

77. The large-scale application of medical technologies without adequate studies in relation to their utility or efficacy is a problem in all contemporary societies. See Dr H. David Banta, "Evaluación de la technologia de la atención médica" (Evaluation of the Technology of Medical Attention), Desarrollo tecnológico y salud: Seminario Internacional (Technological Development and Health: International Seminar), Brasilia, October 1984 (Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization, Washington, D.C., 1985) (mimeo). Problems in this area are so severe that the international health organizations have tried for years to promote studies in technological evaluation to rationalize the introduction of medical techniques in developing countries. See Ronney B. Paneral and Jorge Peña Mohr, Health Technology Assessment Methodologies for Developing Countries (Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D C., 1989). Nevertheless, it is in the industrialized countries where the first steps have been taken in this direction, such as some regulations directed at limiting the indiscriminate introduction of high-technology medical equipment. For example, in the case of tomographs, the law establishes limits to the purchase of new equipment in terms of the number of annual examinations performed by the existing equipment, or through norms relating the number of tomographs to the population. H.D. Banta and K.B. Kempt, eds., The Management of Health Care Technology in Nine Countries (Springer Publishing Co., New York, 1982)

78. The same situation is found in the rest of the continent. "For example, in Brazil, it is estimated that 30 per cent of the hospital medical equipment is out of service due to lack of maintenance and parts. In the countries of Latin America maintenance services form part of the strategy for higher profits of the multinational companies which control those services. These companies maintain high prices for the parts and do not transfer information on the structure and operation of the equipment (circuits), which makes their maintenance and repair difficult." Ricardo A.W. Tavares, "Desarrollo tecnológico en salud: Problemas y estrategias" (Technological Development in Health: Problems and Strategies), Desarrollo tecnológico en salud. Seminario Internacional (note 77 above), p. 12.

79. Carlyle Guerra de Macedo, Preface, in Ronney B. Panerai and Jorge Peña Mohr (note 77 above), p. vii.

80. Ali J. Milano, "La crisis de los medicamentos como violación de los derechos humanos" (The Crisis of Drugs as a Violation of Human Rights), International Congress on Human Rights in Venezuela, Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 6-10 June, 1990 (mimeo).

81. Coromoto Landaeta, "Coromoto Landaeta: colapsaron nuestras políticas sanitarias" (Coromoto Landaeta: Our Sanitary Policies Have Fallen Apart), El Nacional, Caracas, 12 November 1989, p. C-2.

82. See note 81 above.

83. A technological option referring to housing is understood here not only as the technology of housing per se (materials, design, construction technique), but also the plans and regulations of urban development, and the form in which services are provided.

84. "The experience accumulated internationally in housing for the low-income population in Third World countries clearly indicates that the only possible program is a combination of the consolidation of existing spontaneous settlements, with the offer of lots, services and housing for progressive development for the increasing demand for habitat of low-income families." Federico Villanueva, "Una experiencia docente sobre los aspectos técnicos del programa de habitación progresiva en Venezuela" (A Leaming Experience on the Technical Aspects of the Progressive Housing Programme in Venezuela), International Seminar: Housing Solutions Developed by the Low-income Population in the Third World (Caracas. 1987), p. 1 (mimeo).

85. Leopoldo Martínez Olavarría. Quoted in J.J. Frechilla, "Los barrios de ranchos, erradicar, curer o prevenir" (Squatter Housing: Eradicate, Cure or Prevent?), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 5. If the current tendency continues, in the year 2000 only between 15 and 25 per cent of the population of Caracas would not live in squatter settlements. Teolinda Bolivar B., "Los agentes sociales articulados a la producción de los ranchos de barrios" (The Social Agents Connected to the Production of Squatter Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 2.

86. While policy has varied greatly from one government to another in recent years, lately the state has tended explicitly to recognize the existence of informal urban settlements as a lasting reality. Its action, however, has been highly ambiguous, refusing to recognize the definitive nature of these settlements, and at the same time supplying some of the essential services once they are consolidated.

87. John Foxley and Elisenda Vila, "Los planes urbanos y el desarrollo de la vivenda" (Urban Plans and the Development of Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above). The most complete expression of a technocratic vision detached from reality is the case of the only planned city in Venezuela, Ciudad Guayana. The Caroní river separates one half of the city, with services that few inhabitants can afford (Puerto Ordaz), from the other half with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants with precarious or non-existent public services (San Felix).

88. The principal deficiencies of informal housing in Venezuela are not in the housing per se (which inhabitants can construct on their own), but in what the state is responsible for: services. It is calculated that in order to be reclassified as adequate, 82 per cent of the inadequate housing in the country would require provision of services. Alberto Lovera, "Crisis y vivienda popular" (Crisis and Popular Housing), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 4.

89. Roberto Briceño León, "Los retos de la vivenda pare las personas sin hogar en Venezuela" (The Challenges of Housing for the Homeless in Venezuela), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 6. There are tested technologies for the improvement of traditional construction techniques with earth - on the basis of small proportions of cement - that would guarantee an economic, cool, and lasting house.

90. "The usual construction materials and procedures in popular housing have been developed in terms of the conditions of the formal sector of the construction industry, which leads to the assumption that important benefits could be obtained by introducing modifications in materials and processes consonant with the conditions and forms of organization of the process of work related to the popular housing unit." Enrique Hernández O., "Programa de incentivos a la innovación en la producción y comercialización de materials y componentes pare la PRO-MAT" (Programme of Incentives to Innovation in Production and Commercialization of Materials and Components for PRO-MAT), International Seminar (note 84 above), p. 9.

91. See Arnaldo José Gabaldón, Política ambiental y sociedad (Environmental Policy and Society) (Monte Avila Editores, Caracas, 1984).

92. Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Sistemas ambientales en Venezuela. Los problemas ambientales en Venezuela (Environmental Systems in Venezuela. Environmental Problems in Venezuela) (Caracas, 1982), p. 145.

93. See note 92 above, p. 169.

94. The population density in Venezuela is less than 20 persons per square kilometre.

95. The most severe case that has been documented has been that of mercury contamination produced by the wastes of the caustic soda and chlorine plants of the petrochemical complex in Morón between 1953 and 1976. The death of at least 19 workers was directly attributed to mercury and it was estimated that 40 kilometres of beach were contaminated. L. Sánchez, M. Gaumy, and J. Protean, "Intoxication mercurielle au Venezuela," Archives de maladies professionnelles, de medicine du travail et de sécurité sociale (Paris), vol. 43 (1982): 32-34.

96. See note 7.

97. Petróleos de Venezuela has an almost exclusive monopoly on all exploration, exploitation, refining, petrochemical processing, and commercialization of hydrocarbons, the principal economic activity of the country. The Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana is responsible for the rest of the basic enterprises of the state, especially in the steel, aluminium, and electricity areas.

98. Frequently the executive requests financing from Congress for investments in projects that are already committed, placing congressmen in de facto situations in which little can be debated or decided.

99. In relation to this process of creation of new levels of consciousness and political activity in Venezuela, see Gabriela Uribe B. and Edgardo Lander, "Acción social, efectividad simbólica y nuevos ámbitos de lo político en Venezuela" (Social Action, Symbolic Effectiveness and New Contexts of the Political Sphere in Venezuela), in Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, Imágenes desconoridas. I a modernidad en la encrucijada postmoderna (Unknown Images. Modernity at Postmodern Crossroads) (Buenos Aires, 1988).

100. Port city on the north coast of Venezuela.

101. In the words of Richard Falk, "The potency of the new movements is normative, without tangible substance, but capable of affecting sudden conversions and symbolic leaders and of changing the composition of cultural soil. This potency may also be disguised, being borne invisibly by the culture until it irrupts as an unexpected powerful tendency. The political possibilities are coneccted with the gradual establishment of a new fundamental ethos, a kind of 'continental drift' associated with the unknown geology of cultural transformation." "The Global Promise of Social Movements: Explorations at the Edge of Time," Alternatives. Social Transformation and Humane Governance, vol. Xll, no. 2 (1987): 94-95.

102. According to Article 128 of the Constitution, they "must be approved by means of a special law to be valid. . ." When it is ratified by Congress, "The treaty is incorporated in the internal law with constitutional rank, whereby the treaty acquires legal force above any law or code of a lower hierarchy." Programa Venezolano de Educación-Accion en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA), Situación de los derechos humanos en Venezuela. Informe Anual octubre 1988-septiembre 1989 (The Situation of Human Rights in Venezuela. Annual Report, October 1988-Septcmber 1989) (Caracas, 1989), p. 79.

103. Covenants of the United Nations: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Covenant (ratified 1978), Civil and Political Rights Covenant (ratified 1978), Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ratified 1969), Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination toward Women (1983), Protocol of 1967 on Refugees (ratified 1986).

104. Covenants of the Organization of American States: American Convention on Human Rights (ratified 1977), Recognition of the Litigious Competence of the Interamerican Court of Human Rights (ratified 1981).

105. Convention 107 concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and Other Tribal People and Semi-tribal Populations in Independent Countries, approved in the Conference of ILO held in Geneva in 1957, was ratified by the Venezuelan Senate 25 years later in 1982. This convention is the principal international treaty for the protection of the rights of indigenous people, in spite of its basically integrationist nature. The current Venezuelan government is opposed to the ratification of Convection 169 on Indigenous and Other Tribal People of June 1989, which represents a very significant advance in respect of the right to the preservation of cultural identities and traditional forms of life.

106. PROVEA (note 102 above), pp. 69-72.

107. In the words of Amnesty International, "several hundreds of persons lost their lives betwen February 27 and March 8. There are few doubts that many died as a consequence of the general violence or in circumstances that make it difficult to determine those who were responsible. Reports received on other cases, nevertheless, indicate that some persons died as a result of the illegitimate use of lethal means, as for example, indiscriminate or deliberate shots from the army or police." "Venezuela. Reports on Arbitrary Homicides and Tortures: February and March 1989" (summary) (London, March 1990), p. 1 (mimeo).

108. PROVEA (note 102 above), p. 44.

109. Attorney-General of the Republic, En defensa del cindadano (In Defence of the Citizen) (Caracas, 1989), pp. 5-14. The Office of the Attorney-General is the agency in charge of watching over "the observance of the Constitution and the laws" in Venezuela. Ley Orgánica del Ministerio Público (Organic Law of the Public Ministry), Caracas, 1970.

110. "The law will establish the system of exception that requires the protection of indigenous communities and their progressive incorporation into the life of the Nation" (Article. 77). In spite of the importance of indigenous populations in Venezuela, their legal protection is quite precarious. The principal legal instruments in force come from many decades back and have an expressly integrationist intention. The most important of these laws are: The Law on Reduction, Civilization, and Protection of Indigenous People (1882), Law of Protection of Indigenous People (1904), and the Law of Mission (1915). Although it has had little practical influence, the most advanced legal text on the protection of indigenous rights in the country is Article 2 of the Law of Agrarian Reform (]961), which "guarantees and acknowledges the right of the indigenous population that in fact has a communal state of extended family (without impairing the rights that correspond to them as Venezuelans, according to the previous norms), to the use of land, forests and water that they occupy and that belong to them in the sites where they habitually live without prejudice to their incorporation into the national life." The Project of the Organic Law of Indigenous Communities, People and Cultures presented to the Chamber of Deputies in March 1990 is the first legal instrument in which the protection of the rights of the indigenous tribes, including their cultural rights, is envisioned in a global perspective.

111. Fernando Rebolledo M., "El derecho a la privacidad. Primera victima del Gran Hermano" (The Right to Privacy. First Victim of the Big Brother), Seminario informática en el desarrollo de la sociedad venezolana (Seminar: Computer Science in the Development of Venezuelan Society), School of Computer Studies and Institute of Urbanism, Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 1988, p. 8 (mimeo).

112. Attorney-General of the Republic (note 109 above), pp. 73-4.

113. This is explainable both on the basis of the limited capacity of the Ministries of Health and Social Assistance and of Agriculture and Livestock to control such extended activities as agriculture and livestock, and because of the nature of the penalties foreseen for a violation of the law: from a minimum of US$1.00 to a maximum of US$100. Article 7 of the Law of Fertilizers and Other Agents Subject to Exerting a Beneficial Action in Plants, Animals, Soils, and Waters (1964).

114. Owing to the interest that existed at that time in finding a market for the radioactive meat that was being prohibited in the European countries.

115. Table I gives the levels of concentration of radionucleids in foods considered to be acceptable in the Resolutions of the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance on 4 July 1986 and on 30 July 1987.

116. Articles 7-10.

117. See Magdalena Salomón de Padrón, La protección legal de los consumidores y usuarios. Bases para una reforma (Legal Protection of Consumers and Users. Bases for a Reform) (Venezuelan Central University, Caracas, 1988).

118. In view of the limited capacity to perform systematic studies on the diverse prod ucts that are imported, Venezuelan law frequently uses the recourse of prohibiting imports of products that are not authorized for the same use in the countries of origin. Illustrative of this type of norm is Article 27 of the Organic Law of Prevention, Conditions, and Working Environment, which states: "Those who import substances for industrial, agricultural use and service that are potentially harmful to the health of workers, must accompany. . . a certificate of free sale in their country of origin." This requirement is incorporated in Article 41 of the General Regulations on Foods (1959) in relation to the importation of foods, in Article 51 of the Regulations on the Law of the Practice of Pharmacy (1943) in relation to drugs, and in Article 11 of the General Regulations on Pesticides (1968) in relation to the importation of pesticides.

119. Venezuela has likewise signed and ratified the principal international agreements of the ILO in relation to working conditions, among which is Convention 155 on Security and Health of Workers and Working Environment (ratified in 1984).

120. The following articles illustrate the weaknesses inherent in a legal text that involves a regulation which goes far beyond what is practically possible: "Article 22. The employees have to submit to the approval of the Institute of Welfare, Health, and Labor Security all projects of new jobs or the reorganization of previous ones, in order to guarantee that technological changes contribute to making work less arduous and hazardous"; and "Article 23. The construction or importation of machinery, equipment and tools for industry, agriculture or services are subject to the approval and control (by the state) of their conditions and security devices." Since it is not possible for the Venezuelan state to supervise each new job, or each piece of equipment or machinery, it ends up by not exercising any vigilance.

121. According to Article 6 of this law, for example: "No workers may be exposed to the action of physical agents, ergonomic conditions, psychosocial risks, chemical, biological agents or agents of any other type, without being warned in writing or by any other ideal means of their nature, of the damages that might be caused to health, and instructed in the principles of their prevention." Nevertheless, work with patented chemical ingredients that completely lack identification as a way to preserve industrial secrets is frequent.

122. Transplants of organs and authorization of drugs.

123. "The state will attend to the defence and conservation of the natural resources of its territory, and their exploitation will be directed principally to the collective benefit of Venezuelans."

124. See Cecilia Sosa and Osvaldo Mantero, Derecho ambiental venezolano Venezuelan Environmental Law) (Polar Foundation, Caracas).

125. This is a law that predates a large part of the Latin American experience in environmental regulation. Moreover, it was approved only seven years after the National Environment Policy Act of 1969 in the United States, which has been a pioneering instrument in relation to environmental legislation.

126. At a more general conceptual level than the discussion below, it can be pointed out that in this law the relationship between development and environmental protection does not appear as problematic, in spite of the severe environmental impact of the development of Venezuelan society in this century. Environmental protection is presented as an objective "within the policy of integral development of the Nation" (Article 1).

127. For a discussion of these limitations from the point of view of environmental law, see Cecilia Sosa and Osvaldo Mantero (note 124 above), pp. 123-130.

128. In these years, several legal projects have been presented in Congress, oriented to covering the penal problems of environmental protection. The first was a draft of the Law of Partial Reform of the Organic Law of the Environment, approved in the Senate in the first discussion in 1985, but which was later withdrawn from the chambers. Currently debates are taking place on the draft of the Penal Law of the Environment, which has been prepared by the Commission of the Environment and Territorial Regulation of the Chamber of Deputies. This project includes precise norms and penalties. If approved without substantial modifications it would represent a very important step forward in Venezuelan environmental legislation.

129. For example, the Law of Fishing (1944) does not regulate or contemplate trawling.

130. The levels of the fines have been converted into dollars on the basis of an exchange rate of 50 bolivars per dollar, the monetary parity as of July 1990.

131. The following are the diverse types of areas contemplated in Article 15 of the Organic Law of Territorial Regulation: (1) national parks; (2) protective zones; (3) forest reserves; (4) special areas of security and defence; (5) reserves for wild fauna; (6) refuges for wild fauna; (7) sanctuaries for wild fauna; (8) natural monuments; (9) zones of tourist interest; and (10) areas submitted to a system of special administration in accordance with international treaties.

132. According to the Organic Law of the Central Administration (1976), the Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources is responsible for "planning and carrying out the activities of the National Executive for the promotion of the quality of life, the environment and renewable natural resources; the preparation and execution of the programmes for conservation, defence, improvement, regulation, exploitation and use of water, forests, the land and soils; the census, conservation, defence and regulation of the wild fauna and flora; the national parks." (Article 36). It is by no means clear why only "renewable resources" should be protected. Perhaps this is due to the unwillingness of the state oil and mining industries to be supervised by this ministry.

133. Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (MARNR). "El Estado ante el ambiente y el Estado ante la sociedad civil en Venezuela" (The State and the Environment, the State and Civil Society in Venezuela), Seminario: Estado, ambiente y sociedad civil (Seminar: State, Environment and Civil Society) (ILDIS, Caracas, 1987), pp. 32-33 (mimeo).

134. See C.G. Weeramantry, The Slumbering Sentinels. Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology (Penguin Books Australia, 1983).

135. Juan Carlos Rey, "El futuro de la democracia en Venezuela" (The Future of Democracy in Venezuela), in Héctor Silva Michelena (coordinator), Venezuela hacia 2000. Desafiós y opciones (Venezuela toward 2000. Challenges and Options) (Editorial Nueva Sociedad, Caracas, 1987), pp. 242-245.

136. These deficiencies of the legislature are only partially compensated by its increasing political role in the processing and investigation of accusations relating to negative environmental impacts. In this sense, the role of the Permanent Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on the Environment and Territorial Regulation stands out.

137. Julio González Aguirre, "Definición, implicaciones y aspectos regales de la política ambiental en Venezuela" (Definition, Implications and Legal Aspects of Environ mental Policy in Venezuela), in José Malavé, ea., La gestión ambiental, impulso o freno al desarrollo? (Environmental Management, Promotor or Retarder of Development?) (Ediciones IESA, Caracas, 1988), pp. 36-37.

138. MARNR (note 133 above), p. 30.

139. MARNR (note 133 above), p. 30.

140. By holding that everything that has to do with the purchase of weapons is a military secret, this area of technology is expressly excluded from all possibility of democratic control.

141. With the crisis of global political models and ideologies, the tendency in the world today is toward a political language that is increasingly more pragmatic and technocratic. This tends to delegitimize political demands that are not expressed in this specialized language.

142. It is too soon to evaluate this project.

143. This is often due to the fact that explicit commitments have already been made to international financial institutions.

144. This is the case, for exemple, in the project of the Critóbal Colón Plant for the exploitation, processing, and exportation of natural gas. This plant, with a total investment of $3,000 million and participation of foreign capital, is to be constructed in the peninsula of Paria to the north-east of Venezuela, in a moist tropical jungle within the limits of a national park.

145. The so-called "Letter of Intention," delivered to the Director-General of the International Monetary Fund on 28 February 1989, commits the Venezuelan government to carrying out -point by point - all of the principal demands that were made in the Staff Report for the 1987 Article IV Consultation (October 1987), product of a mission of the IMF that visited Venezuela between dune and September 1987.

146. In addition to the value that gold may have as a source of foreign exchange, there is another reason for the lack of effective control of this activity in spite of the fact that its perverse human and environmental effects are beyond doubt. With the increase in unemployment that has been brought about by the economic crisis, mining serves as an escape valve that may limit social tensions.

147. In relation to the environmental impact of tourism on the island of Margarita, the Ministry of the Environment points out that: "The overwhelming environmental problems that this island zone faces arose a short time ago. The introduction of the Free Port has managed to cause more damage to the Island of Margarita in ten years than its inhabitants have been able to do in 450 years of occupation." Ministry of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (note 92 above), p. 222.

(introductory text...)



The expansion of the local economy is estimated at between 9.5 per cent and 10 per cent this year... a great deal of momentum was created in the past two years of superstrong growth and this is propelling the economy along in the current year.2

This headline from a local newspaper in Thailand in mid-1990 illustrates the buoyancy of the national economy and the positive trend of economic development, as seen in figure 1. Thailand has currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world. One of the pervasive preoccupations of Thai policy makers is to estimate if and when Thailand will be classified as a newly industrialized country (NIC), in view of the 10 per cent average GDP growth of the past three years.

How does this position reflect the situation with regard to human rights in the country and to its nexus with technology?

On scrutiny, the situation is more ambivalent than an initial impression would reveal. The incidence of poverty is high in the country, particularly in the north-east, while income distribution leaves much to be desired. This is elaborated in table 1. The cynic may well point out that the glowing statistics, as well as the technological inputs into the growing economy, neglect the underlying social issues involved. If wealth has really increased, it has tended to accumulate in urban areas, in the hands of the few, rather than to be dispersed in rural areas where the majority of people live.

It is precisely this ambiguous situation that calls for an appraisal of the linkage between human rights and technology in developing Thailand. It is closely interrelated with issues of rural and agricultural development, industrialization, urbanization, environmental concerns, and the socialization process - matters of concern to the ordinary people who are at the core of this study.

Fig. 1. GDP growth, Thailand (after Bangkok Post Mid-year Economic Review, 1990, p. 11).

Table 1. Income share by quintile group of population (percentage of total income)









Top 10%




2nd 10%




















2nd bottom 10%




Bottom 10%




Total share




Gini coefficient




Variance of logarithm of income




Source: Suganya Hutaserani and Somchai Jitsuchon, Thailand's Income Distribution and Poverty Profile and Their Current Situations (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1988), p. 17.

Human rights

The term "human rights" raises different interpretations in Thai society. In past decades, it was much influenced by the political struggles to cast off the vestiges of authoritarianism in Thailand. In the 1970s, a student-led movement managed to oust a dictatorial regime, but was later crushed by a military-led backlash. The advocacy of human rights during that era was very much based upon the call for democracy and freedom of expression. The aspirations of the time gave a political meaning to the term "human rights" as an umbrella for self-determination. It provided justification for protection of the advocates of democracy, and for the release of political prisoners.3

The present government, led by General Chatichai Choonhavan, is the first to have an elected prime minister for many years.4 The political dynamics have changed, and generally it may be said that political rights are now respected to a large extent. While military pressures still pervade the intricate political machinery, most political prisoners have been released from prison. Those who remain in prison tend to be cases of lèse majesté or ideological cases, whose numbers are limited. In 1990, there was the thorny issue of press freedom, as there remained on record various laws that conferred excessive powers on the executive to close down newspapers. Particular reference must be made to Revolutionary Decree No. 42.5 Auspiciously, the setting became more liberal at the end of 1990, when the decree was abrogated by the government.

On the other hand, beyond the political spectrum, there is a whole array of socio-economic and cultural issues which have come to the fore in recent years.

In 1990, a bill to provide social security to workers was in a state of uncertainty for a while, owing to the conflict between different interests. However, towards the end of the year the bill was passed, and a social security system is now being introduced for employees. As already noted, poverty, particularly in rural areas, is rampant, and the gap between the rich and the poor seems to be increasing. Collateral to this, environmental decline, which is often conditioned by and is a consequence of poverty, has begun to affect Thai society. A freak mudslide in 1988, due in part to illegal logging, and a rare hurricane in 1989 which caused several hundred deaths, pointed to the relationship between natural disasters, the degradation of natural resources, poverty, and vested interests.

Evidently, the scope of human rights in Thai understanding now goes beyond merely political questions. There are issues of development and under-development which raise questions concerning a wider dimension of human rights.6 In a way, it parallels the global interest in the right to development, defined by the 1986 General Assembly Declaration as constituting "an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all people are entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised." 7

In passing, one should note that Thailand voted for the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, since then she has rarely acceded to international human rights instruments. For example, she has not become a party to the 1966 human rights Covenants. The reason seems to be the perception that to accede to external instruments would be to invite scrutiny which may be detrimental to national security and executive discretion. However, beyond governmental circles, non-governmental entities often voice concerns on human rights issues by reference to international standards.

For the purpose of this study, it is this setting which influences the analysis of the various sectors concerned. An understanding of the context in which one is not necessarily invoking remedies for human rights violations once they have occurred is also required. An equally important consideration is preventive strategies which tackle the root causes of human rights abuses, such as the provision of aid and services to the needy. There is the added consideration that one is not only looking to laws and policies as sanctions against those who distort human rights - one is also concerned with other laws and policies of a facilitative nature, e.g. to provide incentives for development and change.

Complementary to this, one should not simply refer to justiciable rights, i.e. rights to be invoked in courts with appurtenant judicial remedies. This is all the more important because in developing countries the mass base of the population tends to be distant, mentally and physically, from the courts and lawyers, who are seen by them as expensive and time-consuming.

One aims at making an impact not merely via the formal legal system but equally via the ability of any institutions or personnel holding the reins of power to ensure more responsiveness to the needs of the population. This includes not only the government itself but also the private business sector. One likewise looks for alternative means of advocating societal change, e. g. non-governmental organizations and the mass media. A key consideration is to promote more grass-roots initiatives and people's participation in the process of development planning, implementation, benefit-sharing, and evaluation.

It follows from this reasoning that one is not referring solely to the role of those organizations which identify themselves as promoters of human rights in the political sense. One is also projecting a key role for organizations which do not necessarily see themselves as directly involved in human rights matters. This includes, in particular, many local non-governmental organizations dealing with development aid and assistance, for example, satisfying the basic needs of food, shelter, and health of the rural population.

In this respect, we can hark back to the wisdom of the following comment made during the First United Nations Development Decade (1970s), when the exhortation to states to improve their GNP at the macroeconomic level, without sufficient regard to income distribution and resource reallocation among the population in pursuit of equity, was subject to criticism. It warned as follows:

One of the greatest dangers in development policy lies in the tendency to give to the more material aspects of growth an overriding and disproportionate emphasis. The end may be forgotten in preoccupation with the means. Human rights may be submerged and human beings seen only as instruments of production rather than as free entities for whose welfare and cultural advance the increased production is intended.8

The reorientation of thought affecting the present study is encapsulated in the following yardsticks later propounded by the UN:

1. The realisation of the potentialities of the human person in harmony with the community should be seen as the central purpose of development;

2. The human person should be regarded as the subject and not the object of the development process;

3. Development requires the satisfaction of both material and non-material basic needs; 4. Respect for human rights is fundamental to the development process;

5. The human person must be able to participate fully in shaping his own reality; 6. Respect for the principles of equality and non-discrimination is essential; and

7. The achievement of a degree of individual and collective self-reliance must be an integral part of the process.9


A plethora of definitions of the term "technology" can be found, including the following:

A body of skills, knowledge, and procedures for making, using and doing useful things.10

The body of knowledge that is applicable to the production of goods and the creation of new goods.11

The systematic application of collective human rationality with a view to achieving greater control over nature and over human processes of all kinds.12

It is probably easier to specify what technology is not, rather than what it is. It is not merely hardware in the form of machinery and tangible materials. It also incorporates "knowledge," embodied in the term "software." Hence the close linkage with education and socialization, a theme to be treated later in this study. As a UN publication has acknowledged, technology is: a combination of hardware and software with the relative proportions varying from one extreme to the other. Purely hardware technology can be considered as being of two types: the end-use product type (such as automobiles, computers, televisions) and the production tool type (such as instruments, equipment and machinery). Software technology can also be considered as being of two types: the know-how type (such as processes, techniques and methods) and the know-why type (such as knowledge, skills and experience).13

The nuances are rendered more complicated by the unsettled notion of technology transfer. Four tendencies are visible from the documentation available. The first suggests that there is a transfer of technology "when it is used effectively in a new environment. No attention is paid to the origin of inputs of production. As long as new technology is employed efficiently, for example even if the whole factory is run by foreigners, technology is considered transferred."14

The second tendency is based upon whether "the local work force is able to take charge of the imported technology and to do so efficiently."15 By contrast, according to the third tendency, technology transfer takes place "when technology spreads to other local productive units in the recipient economy," 16 such as through sub-licensing agreements. Finally, the fourth tendency emphasizes a process of indigenization, i.e. technology transfer takes place when "imported technology is fully understood by local workers, and when these workers begin to adapt the imported technology to the specific needs of the environment.'' 17

Much of the discussion at the international level concerns not so much the puzzle "what is technology transfer?" but "what is international technology transfer?" This is germane to efforts under the aegis of UNCTAV to draft a Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology. All drafts agree that a transaction is international, and thus within the scope of the draft code, if the technology is "transferred across national boundaries." 18 Beyond that, there is less agreement. What if the parties are not located in different countries, but one of them is controlled by a foreign entity and the technology transferred has not been developed in the technology-acquiring country? Within the UNCTAD forum, opinions diverge on this. Developing countries view such situations as "international," thereby falling under the draft code.19 However, the developed world disagrees, thus excluding parent-subsidiary situations from the instrument where the subsidiary located in a country transfers technology to another party in that same country.20

A related catchphrase in the minds of policy makers is appropriate technology. One Thai commentator has identified the following features:

- It must be adapted to the culture, economy, and environment of the locality.
- It must be consistent with the past practices of the group.
- It must be adaptable and have few constraints.
- It must respond to the raw materials of the locality.
- It must be suitable to the local environment.
- It must be operated and supervised by the people of the locality.
-The benefits must accrue to those users.21

As shown in table 2, there are many impediments to the quest for appropriate technology. As will be seen later, what is appropriate in Thai society is often elusive, especially as technology produces both positive and negative impacts, sometimes simultaneously.

Historically, many forms of technology were found in Thailand thousands of years ago. There are remnants of technology concerning the use of seeds from as far back as 7,000-9,000 years ago. From 5,000-7,000 years ago, there is evidence of metal and copper utilization. In the Middle Ages (Sukothai era), there was ample use of ceramics, drainage, and building construction. Some three centuries ago, with the advent of Europeans in the region, medical instruments, irrigation, printing presses, and guns arrived at Thailand's doorstep. Then came all the trappings of modernization, including telegraph and postal communications, railways, roads, and electricity. Interestingly, the first rice mill was set up with the help of the United States in 1858.22

Currently, it is the Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy which oversees policy on technology. The national policy is shaped by the Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1987-1991) ("The Sixth Plan"), whose guidelines include the following:23

(1) to develop the country's policy-making and planning capacities in science and technology;

(2) to develop the basic organizational structure, together with the laws and regulations necessary for science and technology development;

(3) to develop manpower efficiency in science and technology by improving the quality and use of manpower, particularly in engineering, science, agriculture, technical and vocational education, and secondary education;

(4) to encourage efficiency in national research and development;

(5) to encourage technology transfer from abroad and increase its effectiveness in benefiting the economic and technological development of the nation;

(6) to develop a new data and information system for science and technology; and

(7) to promote the role of the private sector in developing and using technology.

Table 2. Problems with the current thinking about appropriate technology

Main problems


Lack of comprehensive approach

Job creation aspect has been largely exaggerated.

Too much emphasis on maintaining traditional occupational patterns

Lack of competitive tradition

Very little consideration of quality, productivity, and efficiency necessary for commercial attractiveness

Use of small scale which overlooks profitability

Lack of future orientation

Entire thrust is towards dealing with immediate problems

Little or no consideration for future solutions

Creation of false hopes

Failure to realize the inadequacy of small-scale technologies to deal with the immense magnitude of development problems

Inadequate rate of change

The use of rural-based technology for national development is a very slow process compared with the fast growth in population and aspirations

Lack of integration with technology transfer

Creating an artificial boundary between technology transfer and technology development

Very little attempt to achieve a coherent strategy

Lack of institutional infrastructure

Very little has been done for the creation of a technological innovation climate

Institutional constraints on transfer and development of appropriate technology have been largely ignored

Lack of information flow on alternative technologies

Lack of information on various technologies developed in different countries

Failures receive more publicity than successes

Emphasizing the tool and not the problem

The technology selection process ignores some vital aspects of the problems, such as the image of modernism created by the powerful demonstration effect

Lack of people's participation

Every appropriate technology must start with and be implemented by people who need it. What is appropriate can only be determined by the people themselves

Source: UN (ESCAP), Technology for Development (1984), p. 85.

At the transnational level of technology transfer, technology has arrived in Thailand via the private sector, bilateral aid, and international organizations. Thailand has no law on such technology transfer, and the policy is one of acceptance with open arms.24 Japan ranks first in this field in terms of direct investment in Thailand. It is difficult to know how much technology has come into the country, particularly via the private sector, as there is no repository of technology contracts. The only two national entities which carry out some monitoring of these contracts are the Board of Investment, for the purpose of granting investment incentives, and the Bank of Thailand, for the purpose of repatriation of investment profits.

Although local research and development of technology, as well as local technology transfer, are very much on the policy agenda, it is difficult to assess how far they have been promoted in practice. In this respect, a sampling is given in Appendix 1, by the list of projects promoted by the Ministry of Technology, but this does not imply that all the projects have been completed or have attained their objective.

On the legal front, one should note that there is an array of laws affecting the utilization of technology, although they tend to concern the industrialization process rather than other sectors. The genesis is the Constitution itself (1978), which calls upon the state to promote the development of science and technology.25 The substantive laws include the following:

1. Patents. The current national law is the Patent Act 1979.26 By section 3 of this Act, "patent" is defined as "a document issued under the provisions of this Act to grant protection for an invention or a design." A patent may only be granted for an invention if the invention is new, involves an inventive step, and is capable of industrial application. The requirement of novelty means that the following are not patentable:

- An invention widely known or used by others in Thailand before the filing of the patent application.

- An invention the subject-matter or details of which were described or other wise disclosed to the public in any manner, whether inside or outside Thailand, before the filing of the patent application. - An invention which is the subject of a pending application filed more than 12 months previously in a foreign country.

- An invention for which a patent was applied for in Thailand, but in respect of which the applicant had abandoned such application. Inventions which are not patentable include, inter alia:

- Machines for use in agriculture.

- Animals, plants, or biological processes for the production of animals or plants.

- Inventions which are contrary to public order, good morals, or public health or welfare.

To be an eligible applicant, the applicant must be a Thai national or a national of a country which allows persons of Thai nationality to apply for patents in such country. If granted, the patent is valid for a period of 15 years, while a patent for product design is valid for a period of seven years. Incidentally, Thailand has not signed the Paris Convention on the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property 1883.

The current debate on the patent legislation is on whether to amend it to include drugs (pharmaceuticals); although this would help to protect foreign inventions, the prices of drugs would rise to the detriment of ordinary Thais. As will be seen below in relation to agriculture, there has been talk of enabling new cultivars to be patented, although this has not come to pass.

2. Copyright. Protection is accorded automatically to any "work" created by natural and juristic persons by the Copyright Act 1978.27 This includes literature, drama, music, and films. There is no need for registration of copyright. Foreigners may also benefit if they create a work while residing in Thailand during the creation. Where they reside abroad, they may be entitled to protection if they return to Thailand for the initial publishing. As Thailand is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, international copyright protection is accorded to copyrights registered in other countries where those countries recognize Thai copyrights on a reciprocal basis.

In 1988 the main debate on this question was whether to offer protection to US works, as the US had not acceded to the Berne Convention at the time. However, the US did later accede, and the works of US nationals are now entitled to recognition in Thailand on a reciprocal basis. There remains the unsettled issue of whether computer software is protected under the current Thai law. The uncertain position is left to local courts to decide.

3. Trademarks. Protection is accorded by the Trademarks Act 1931 and 1961.28 A trademark may comprise a device, brand, heading, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, or a combination. It needs to be registered in Thailand. Further protection is provided by the Civil and Criminal Codes. The plethora of counterfeit goods using brand names in Thailand is a headache to those responsible for the implementation of this law.

4. Legal incentives. Various incentives, such as tax and tariff deduction, are accorded by a variety of laws, including the Investment Promotion Act 1977.29 The Ministry of Technology issued in 1988 decrees allowing the reduction of tariffs on machinery which saves energy, and on machinery helping to combat pollution.30 The ministry has also established a revolving fund for those who wish to borrow for research and development of technology in a number of sectors, including agriculture, food, electricity, and machinery.31

On scrutiny, one should observe that there is still underdevelopment of technology at the local level, thereby restricting the benefits of these laws and incentives concerning intellectual property. For instance, there have been relatively few applications by Thais to register patents; the majority have been foreigners. This indicates that indigenous technological developments, particularly in the industrial sector, leave much to be desired. The consequence is that one is too dependent on foreign technology without having the power to adapt it fully to local uses.


As implied earlier, the litmus test for assessing the linkage between human rights and technology is to look at a domain much broader than the political field. This involves socio-economic factors, environmental aspects, and a comprehensive overview of development. The following sectors are selected to illustrate the ambivalent repercussions of technology in Thailand when viewed from a human rights perspective.

Rural development

The majority of the world's population live in rural areas. This is the case in Thailand, where some 70 per cent of the population are rural-based. They are also disadvantaged by limited access to basic services and belong to the poorer stratum of the community. For this reason, they deserve particular attention when there is talk of human rights and technology. How to reduce poverty, how to overcome unemployment and inequality, how to lessen the migration to urban areas, how to increase the yield of rural occupations, and how to promote greater self-reliance are recurrent questions for Thailand's development process.

When the country first started to have national development plans in the early 1960s, rural areas were much neglected. The two decades that followed the First Development Plan (1961-1966) were biased in favour of infrastructural development, for example, roads, electricity, and dams, which tended to favour urban rather than outlying rural areas. Reappraisal came with the Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan (1982-1986) ("The Fifth Plan"), with its accent on rural poverty eradication. The Fifth Plan acknowledged past failings, including a top-down development process which expected a trickle-down effect to take place from growth at the national level, the superimposition of welfare efforts on rural people without their participation, limited understanding by policy makers of rural problems, and the lack of basic necessities in rural areas. The Plan identified as special target areas villages ("backward rural areas") in 37 provinces for upgrading on a priority basis. The philosophy began to change with the enuciation of these precepts:

1. To be area specific, giving top priority to the high poverty concentration areas;

2. To develop high poverty concentration areas so that the people will have enough to eat and to clothe themselves. Basic public services will be made available in sufficient supplies;

3. To initiate people's self-help programmes;

4. To solve the poverty problems in all localities with emphasis on low-cost and self-help techniques;

5. To encourage the maximum participation by the people in solving their problems.32

Table 3.






Increased weight



Reduction of disease



Provision of food

These strategies were and are linked with the notion of integrated rural development, entailing cooperation between the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture, to encourage "rural industrialisation, the establishment and strengthening of agro-industrial complexes, the modernisation of agriculture, better integration of women in all stages of the production process, and employment for the rural population." 33

This has also led to the adoption of basic minimum needs indicators (Jor Por Tor), first experimented with in Korat province in north-eastern Thailand. Subsequently, this was extended to all parts of Thailand. As stated in a manual for training those involved in utilizing these indicators,34 the aim is to enable the population to know their basic minimum needs, to improve their quality of life, and to promote cooperation between governmental and non-governmental sectors, with popular participation. The approach seems to be based upon felt needs, with a predominance of objective rather than subjective elements. It is also influenced by the input-output model, with additional emphasis on performance and coverage. This blend is illustrated in table 3.35 The consumption, injection, and cultivation processes exemplify "performance," while the indicators may stipulate the percentage of the groups expected to be covered under the time phase allocated as a measure of "coverage."

Basically, a series of indicators, originally 32 in number and currently in the process of being expanded to 34, was established to be used in selected parts of the country (now extended to villages all over Thailand). These indicators are used to gauge the needs of villagers; this may then lead to mobilization of resources and services to respond to those needs, in terms of projects and budgets.36

The 32 indicators are divided into eight main groups, as follows:

A. The people eat nutritious food which is good for their health:
1. Children up to five years of age do not suffer from malnutrition.
2. Children between 5 and 14 have sufficient food.
3. Pregnant women eat properly and the children born are not less than 3,000 grams in weight.

B. The people have appropriate shelter and environment:

4. Houses are well built to last at least five years.
5. The family arranges the home in an orderly fashion.
6. The family has a toilet meeting sanitation standards.
7. The family has sufficient clean drinking water.

C. The people have access to basic social services:

8. Children under one year old are vaccinated.
9. Children of school age have access to compulsory education.
10. Children of primary school age are vaccinated.
11. People between 14 and 50 are literate.
12. The family obtains news concerning livelihood, health, law.
13. Pregnant women are cared for before giving birth.
14. Pregnant women are cared for at the birth of the child and after the birth.

D. The people are secure in life and in property:

15. The people are safe in life and in property.

E. The people can produce and consume food satisfactorily:

16. The family grows crops on a rotational basis.
17. The family uses fertilizers.
18. The family prevents and eliminates insects affecting crops.
19. The family prevents epidemics among animals.
20. The family uses seeds and animals provided by officials.

F. The family can utilize family planning:

21. Spouses have no more than two children and can use birth control as desired.

G. The people participate in the development process and choose their livelihood:

22. The family is a unit established by its members to help each other.
23. The village participates in self-development.
24. The village participates in looking after common property.
25. The village participates in looking after cultural heritage.
26. The village protects natural resources.
27. The people use their right to vote within the democracy.
28. The village committee is able to plan and follow its plan (for development purposes).

H. The people develop their spirit:

29. In the village, there is mutual bonding and help.
30. Family members practice a religious activity at least once a month.
31. Family members do not gamble and are not addicted to drugs.
32. The family does not spend excessively on traditional rites and rituals.

Technology has come in extremely handy to collate the data and mobilize help for rural people in relation to the above. Basically, two types of information are gathered: that collected by the heads of households, which is then synthesized by the subdistrict development committee and sent to the province; and that collected independently by the same committee as basic data concerning the village. These data are channelled to the provincial rural development centre and are computerized before being sent to Bangkok for further computerization at the national level. The data are used as means for preparing projects to meet the basic minimum needs of the villagers and for mobilizing resources to help them. Three types of situations may call for resources (including technology) as follows :37

1. The villagers' own resources, e.g. in planting vegetables.

2. The villagers' own resources coupled with those of the government, e.g. in setting up a credit scheme or fund in the village.

3. Governmental funds, e.g. basic welfare services.

As the actual use of these indicators is in the nascent stage, it is difficult to assess their true impact, subject to these observations. First, owing to the variety of questionnaires (at least four), which have to be synthesized and reduced to percentages, the system is complex. Second, despite the complexity, the data gathered are an invaluable source of information concerning the state of villages all over Thailand. Third, where there is a lack of certain basic necessities, the information has led to programmes and budgets to help raise the standards to meet the basic minimum needs. Some 70 per cent of the projects of this nature which were sent to the Ministry of the Interior for support have met with a favourable response.

Fourth, some provinces are adopting indicators other than the 32 mentioned, especially if their level of development is already high. In one province, an indicator has been adopted to assess land tenure, an issue not raised in the 32 indicators mentioned. This reflects the need to review the status quo and move towards more redistribution of wealth. But the officials concerned may be afraid that this type of indicator will raise expectations and invite rights advocacy. Fifth, the 32 indicators are still weak on various issues, for example, they do not cover broadly the interests of specific groups such as women, children, and the aged, particularly in relation to their legal rights and well-being.38

In practice, in spite of improvements in the livelihood of some villagers, others remain in a deprived position. The current land purchase and investment boom has also meant greater readiness by villagers to sell land for short-term benefits, thereby losing their means of self-reliance in the long run. Although the population growth has declined in recent years, demographic pressures continue to cause migration to urban areas and encroachment upon national forest land.

While well-intentioned, the rural development policies mentioned tend to be top-down in effect; policies and budgetary resources depend very much upon the Bangkok administration. This is compounded by the failure to decentralize power from the centre and devolve resources to local leaders. The dimension of human rights and technology, in this respect, can be broadened by reference to other issues such as agriculture, rural industrialization, and environmental concerns elaborated below.


One Thai commentator39 has observed that farmers suffer from four deaths: (a) death through natural causes; (b) death through general illnesses; (c) death and illnesses from pesticides; and (d) death from economic deprivation. These laments indicate that the development of farmers, who are the backbone of the agricultural sector and form the majority of the population, is far from satisfactory.

While agricultural outputs of rice and other produce such as tapioca used to be the country's biggest export earners, they are now being overtaken by industrial goods, particularly from the manufacturing sector, such as textiles. There was in 1990 a decline in most agricultural exports, the decreases in value for rice and tapioca being 38.7 and 7.4 per cent respectively, as seen in table 4.

Yet one should not forget that the importance of agriculture for the country cannot be computed in terms of cash crops and export earnings alone. Agricultural produce is the livelihood of the majority of Thais and provides their staple diet.

Government planning to help agriculture in the Sixth Plan is based upon four tenets:40 production for sale; diversification of production so as to minimize risk; linkage between production and marketing; and improvement of administration of agriculture. Government strategies tying agriculture with technology include the following:41

1. Enhance research and development on production techniques so as to produce new goods; examples include initiatives by the Ministry of Agriculture to promote herbal medicine, tobacco, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, fisheries, cashew nuts, and cocoa.

2. Promote the production process in farming communities by means of supplementary occupations, e.g. prawn farming, other crops besides rice (e.g. rubber), orchards, and crop diversification.

3. Provide incentives to farmers such as through budgetary concessions, e.g. by means of a revolving fund to help farmers, administered by the Bank of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

4. Improve the governmental role in transferring technology to help the production process; the concept of technology transfer is to help in decision-making through better education, taking into account the available natural resources and the market at large, and the provision of more productive cultivars.

5. Upgrade the system of production and marketing, e.g. with the establishment of provincial plans (now being experimented with in Ubon province).

Table 4. Exports of major agricultural commodities (in thousand of tons)

Jan. - Apr.














- 44.8










- 7.3



- 15.6






(- 14.5)

Tapioca products






- 17.8



















(- 15.8)














a. Figures in parentheses indicate value in millions of baht. Source: Bangkok Post Mid-year Economic Review (1990), p. 15.

In practice, certain aspects deserve closer examination:

Appropriate Technology

No one denies the need to have appropriate technology for agriculture; many of the techniques used by farmers are already appropriate. However, it is difficult to assess the true impact of innovative technology which claims to be appropriate. These are exemplified by technology for basic livelihood, including bamboo pumps, PVC pumps, and hydraulic rams for water production; windmills to produce electricity; mixing ashes with cement to provide construction material; use of palm oil and the residue of corn for soap production; solar energy; and walking tractors as a labour-saving device.42

While the use of such technology is increasing, one should not underestimate the impact of the rising costs of fertilizers and insecticide, as well as unstable agricultural prices and inflation, which militate against real upgrading of agricultural life.


Ask any farmer in Thailand and he/she will probably reply that water is the most important resource that is lacking. Irrigated land covers only 20 per cent of the cultivable area.43 The situation is more complicated owing to the dilemma concerning whether to build more dams for irrigation purposes. The growing environmentalist lobby has come out strongly against the construction of large dams, as will be seen later in this study. The options are to promote more small-scale irrigation facilities, such as reservoirs and village ponds.

Rice Cultivars

One of the most interesting impacts of technology is the improvement of rice production through new cultivars. A whole variety of rice has been developed in Thailand, at times through links with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.44 Two main varieties have been explored; the photosensitive type, depending upon seasons for growth, and the non-photosensitive type, depending upon the period of days for cultivation. High-yielding seeds of the latter type include the "Kor Kor" series, which was developed through cross-fertilization with a species lent by IRRI.

Until recently, one of the most high-yielding cultivars was the home-bred Supanburi species, with its shorter stem which helps retain rice grain. However, it has not proved resistant to pests; it has been attacked by brown plant hoppers, and farmers have had to revert to the use of other cultivars.

As noted earlier, there is still the unsettled question of whether new rice cultivars should be patentable in Thailand. The present patent legislation does not permit this because of its rationale of rendering agricultural technology, whether through machinery or cultivars, more accessible to farmers.


According to a study by Mingsarn in northern Thailand, some 35 per cent of the sample of farmers interviewed used fertilizers, and spent nearly 2,000 baht annually on them.45 The expenditure on fertilizers is high, considering that some farmers earn only 5,000 baht or less per annum. According to the same study, 25 per cent of the interviewees had no knowledge of any of the four major fertilizers commonly sold in the region, suggesting a gap in access to key information in farmers' decision-making.46 Another study on agricultural technology observes that 53 per cent of the farmers interviewed in irrigated areas used fertilizers, while only 43 per cent of those in rain-fed areas used them.47 Interestingly, there is a close linkage between irrigated areas and use of fertilizers, implying that access to water provided by the state goes hand in hand with access to information on fertilizers and to the fertilizers themselves. The one technology fosters the other technology.

The second study also notes that particularly in rain-fed areas, except in central Thailand, there is misuse of fertilizers in proportion to the land area and season.48 Where there is usage, it is lower than that recommended by officials, and at times the wrong kind of fertilizer is used for the cultivated land. These elements point to the need for more education of farmers in their use of fertilizers.

An offshoot of the above is the concern expressed over use and abuse of chemical fertilizers; they are not only expensive by comparison with natural fertilizers but also create a vicious cycle of dependency: the more fertilizer you use, the more the land will demand and the more you will spend. There are also complaints that the fertilizers recommended by officials are not available in the local markets.

There are now calls for greater use of local fertilizers made of natural elements, such as compost, hay, and rice husk. For example, hay can help to regenerate nutrients in the topsoil if the soil is covered in the correct manner. However, natural fertilizers sometimes take a long time to produce, and farmers in a hurry are unlikely to wait. The compromise seems to be to accelerate the production of natural fertilizers while moderating the use of chemical fertilizers.


According to the Mingsarn study, 76.8 per cent of the farmers interviewed used insecticides while 65 per cent used herbicides.49 54.3 per cent have witnessed cases of insecticide toxicity in nearby areas, and 60 per cent have encountered pesticide resistance.50 In another study on agricultural technology, herbicides are identified as causing the number one problem, while insecticides follow as number two.51 Misuse of herbicides includes:

- incorrect use for type of weeds and period of time;
- wrong method in applying herbicides; and
- failure to explore other methods of dealing with undesired plants.

In relation to use of pesticides, it is interesting that such use is more widespread in irrigated areas than in rain-fed areas, indicating again that access to water technology also leads to access to other technology, including pesticides.52 An additional worry is the use of chemicals to kill rodents, particularly in irrigated areas. The abuses include: wrong method of utilization; incorrect time, and use for the wrong type of rodent.

The current concern is to move towards more appropriate use of chemical pesticides and to develop natural pesticides. Various local herbs, including takerai, saduo, mint, and tobacco, may be blended into natural insecticides. Equally important is the preservation of natural predators to curb the spread of undesired pests. One should not underestimate the value of the ordinary worm or the common toad in this respect!

Animals and Machinery

One of the most marked declines in the use of traditional technology relates to the use of water buffaloes for ploughing ricefields. In recent years, they have been killed increasingly for their meat. The shortage of buffaloes has even led to the import of buffaloes from neighbouring countries. The utility of the buffalo has been underestimated, especially if one is dealing with small plots of land which do not need high-powered technology.

Generally, labour-saving technology is much in demand and can help to raise the farmer's quality of life. These range from ordinary pumps to tractors. The four-wheeled tractor is not widespread and is costly to maintain; only 21 per cent of farmers are estimated to be using them.53 By contrast, the walking tractors are a more appropriate form of technology; some 63 per cent of farmers are using them.54 There is also increasing demand for post-harvest technology, including crop threshing and rice dehumidifiers. At present only 23 per cent of farmers have access to crop-threshing machinery.55

Interestingly, the Ministry of Technology has regulations to help reduce tariffs on machinery of this kind if it comes from abroad, as well as a revolving fund to help local research and development, as noted earlier. One should note that rice mills and silos tend to be in the hands of the few, thus pressuring rice farmers to sell their yield early to middlemen without being able to stockpile for the future. The prospect of community participation and cooperation in relation to such technology has yet to be maximized to increase farmers' bargaining power in the production and marketing processes.

On another front, Mingsarn observes that the traditional communal irrigation system, as well as its management and repair of related weirs and canals, is well established.56 However, water management at the field level leaves much to be desired, while the concept of drainage and water-saving devices is not sufficiently understood.

Land and Technology

Increasing landlessness and sale of land to investors mainly from urban areas suggests a changing picture at the rural level, whereby more local farmers are becoming tenants or own reduced areas for farming purposes. On the one hand, there is the rise of the absentee landlord with vast holdings, which are being turned over increasingly to industrial use in the central areas of Thailand.57 On the other hand, there is the increasing number of smallholdings and tenancies. Of particular concern is the role of technology in helping to alleviate the plight of the latter. Precisely because the scale of farmers' holdings is becoming smaller, the type of technology required should be cost-effective and should respond to the natural resource base.

Simple, inexpensive forms of machinery are required, while knowledge and know-how through appropriate training and dissemination of information should be maximized. This is already undertaken by various programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture and through the radio, but their reach is still limited. Equally important is managerial and marketing technology that will enable farmers to group together to manage and market their own produce without being too dependent upon unscrupulous middlemen. There is the additional aspect of how to increase their income through supplementary occupations and the role of industrialization in this respect. It is to this that the study now turns.


Thailand's leap into industrialization has been very much export-oriented and capital-intensive during the past decade. The industries which have contributed to the current 10 per cent GDP growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector, also tend to be concentrated in and around Bangkok. There is evidently a distortion in the spread of industrialization, in that rural areas are on the periphery of the process. This also shapes the human rights perspective and access to technology for industrialization.

The link between large-scale industries, technology, and human rights is opaque, precisely because, for the reasons already noted, it is impossible to quantify how much technology has been developed and transferred to large-scale industries in Thailand.58 First, the number of local patents registered with the Patents Office is small, indicating a paucity of local inventions (or if not a paucity, at least a secrecy which denies knowledge of them to the public). According to a recent World Bank study, although patent applications increased from 500 in 1982 to 1,500 in 1988, the share of Thai applications fell from 22 to 12 per cent as compared with foreign applications.59 Details can be found in table 5. Second, the database for technology transfer from abroad is uncertain owing to lack of a repository for technology contracts at the commercial or governmental level, while there is no law requiring mandatory screening of technology transfer.

Obviously, there have been positive impacts, such as the boom in industrialization itself and the rising GDP, particularly from the industrial sector. However, the negative impacts are also visible. For example, the transfer of many turnkey factories to Thailand from abroad has not been complemented by sufficient training of Thai counterparts to replicate those factories at the local level for production purposes. Moreover, the technology provided is not always suitable and may have serious environmental consequences. For instance, in 1961 there was a transfer technology from Germany in the form of the "otter-board trawl" to improve efficiency in catching fish in the Gulf of Thailand.60 It is mainly through this technique that fishery resources are now depleted, causing a crisis for fishermen and consumers.

At the other end of the scale, in policy-making circles, the problems of over-centralization and the need for decentralization are well known, but it is political and social will which is often lacking for the implementation of change. As was recognized in the Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan (19821986):

The concentration of industrial activities is due to the availability of basic infrastructural facilities in Bangkok and the surrounding area, which is also the centre for commerce, transportation and communication, financial resources and trained manpower. It is also observed that industries which are located in provincial areas are agro-industries requiring local raw materials and are industries which primarily produce goods for local consumption.61

That Plan also initiated the project known as the Eastern Seaboard (ESB), comprising the industrial development of three provinces adjoining Bangkok as a means of decentralization.62 In practice, however, the area has been an extension of the Bangkok metropolis rather than a genuine decentralization of industries. There is currently concern that the social and environmental consequences of developing the ESB have not been fully appreciated, as it may lead to an outflow of manpower from other rural areas to satisfy ESB industrial needs, on the one hand, and on the other to industrial pollution, especially in nearby coastal areas.

Table 5. Number of patent applications, 1982-1988






































% Thai applications


15 5







% of sector in total





































% Thai applications









% of sector in total









Industrial products




























% Thai applications









% of sector in total







27 7


Total applications




























% {had applications









Source Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Competitiveness: A Case Study of Thailand (World Bank, 1990), p. 61.

The Fifth Plan also initiated greater interest in small- and medium-scale industries -a sector more likely to benefit rural people and agriculture- by proposing the following measures:63

1. Improve and expand the promotion of small-scale industries in provincial areas.

2. Develop a credit extension system and related institutions for small-scale industries in outlying regions.

3. Improve research work, develop production technology, and improve management techniques. In addition, the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry, and Ministry of Science and Technology are to cooperate in the expansion of markets for small-scale industries.

4. Promote the production subcontracting system between small-scale and large-scale industries.

5. Speed up the identification of industrial zones according to size and category in various provinces.

The current Sixth Plan continues this call for more small- and medium-scale industrialization and links it with rural industrialization as a whole.64 In this respect, a recent book entitled Rural Industrialisation in Thailand makes this perceptive observation:

Since the majority of Thailand's rural industry comprises small scale industries, the technological requirements of these industries are not high. Unfortunately, there is no information available for rural industry. Nevertheless, the pattern of source of technology in rural areas is expected to be similar to small industry as a whole, i.e. mostly from own design. Direct purchase of foreign technology is found to be low even for large scale industry. Another interesting point is the very small portion in all sizes of industries which benefited from government assistance in terms of technology.65

One successful example of a rural industry which has been promoted recently is the gem-cutting industry, which employs some 400,000 people in the north of Thailand. This exemplifies a link between outlying areas and Bangkok which can lead to exports for the benefit of the country and local people. In reality, however, the development of rural industries along these lines has been constrained by various shortcomings closely linked with technology, i.e.;

- Insufficiency of basic infrastructure, e.g. roads and electricity which are dependent upon technology.

- Lack of certain forms of equipment for small-scale operations, e.g. Iabour-saving devices.

- Not enough knowledge to improve the efficiency of production and maintenance of the equipment used.

- Paucity of credit facilities to help the acquisition of technology at the rural levels.

- Insufficient diffusion of technical know-how, particularly because of a lack of subcontracting.66

As already noted, the Ministry of Technology now has a revolving fund which can benefit rural industries in acquiring and developing technology, but it is nascent in application and limited in scope. To understand the broader perspective of incentives such as credit facilities and access to technology, one should go beyond that ministry to assess the accessibility of other institutions. These include the following:

The Board of Investment

The mandate of the Board of Investment is provided for in the Investment Promotion Act 1977.67 It provides incentives ranging from reduction of tariffs on imported machinery to facilitation of entry of experts to help investment projects from abroad. Its criteria for assisting projects are based upon the following determinants:

- Significantly strengthens position, especially through production for export.
- Supports development of resources within the country.
- Substantially increases employment.
- Locates operations in the provinces.
- Conserves energy.
- Establishes or develops basic industries which form the bases for industrial development.
- Must be considered important and necessary by the government.

In practice, this body has granted incentives mainly to large-scale industries with several million baht capital investment. The beneficiaries would seem to be big business entrepreneurs rather than ordinary people, particularly in rural areas.

Small Industrial Finance Office

This Office is linked with the Ministry of Industry.68 It lends sums of up to 3 million baht to investors, the loan period being seven years. The loan can be used to purchase land and machinery, as well as to construct factories. The loans have had limited impact on rural industrialization owing to the paucity of funds available for loan. The Office is not a juristic person, implying that it has difficulties in borrowing from other institutions; for example, it has no access to the Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand mentioned below. Those who have borrowed from SIFO tend to be medium-scale industries with expenditure of over 100,000 baht, rather than small-scale industries with expenditure under 100,000 baht.

Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand

This entity has a revolving fund totalling 200 million baht to promote small-scale industrialization with loans of up to 5 million baht.69 Records show that the majority of those seeking loans ask for more than 500,000 baht. The grants are therefore medium-sized investment and industrialization rather than the small-scale industries that farmers and their families may wish to establish.

The Prime Minister's Office

This has a rural development fund of several hundred million baht, from which rural people may borrow to upgrade their livelihood, including industrialization. However, there is much paperwork, and the administrative process is supervised by the governor of each province. So far, the fund has been ineffective, and few people have resorted to it.

A number of other credit amenities which may facilitate industrialization and technology acquisition are visible, for example, via the Community Development Department, which helps rural women who wish to set up cottage industries. However, the overall picture suggests that despite the rhetoric stressing the need to help rural and small industries, access to credit facilities that may, in turn, permit access to technology has been limited. The funds that are available have been mainly accessible to large- and medium-scale industries. The hopes of small rural communities and farming families in relation to local industrialization that may help to supplement their income are very much dampened by inaccessibility to resources conducive to small-scale operations.


One of the most visible phenomena of Thailand's development is the growth of urban areas, with the concomitant migration of rural people to such localities and the rise of urban slums.70 This has been accompanied by congestion and pollution in city areas. Flooding has become commonplace, partly owing to subsidence of land caused by illegal extraction of subterranean water. The technology apparent in towns tends to revolve around the display of goods, the lines of cars, the rows of buildings, and the bright lights, which also contribute to social and environmental problems. Technology to help prevent pollution and regulate the growth of cities is a mirage given the disorderly sprawl, particularly in the Bangkok metropolis.

The concerns of urbanization are reflected in the current Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plan, but there remains the question of practical implementation. The plan adopts four main policies in relation to urban growth in Bangkok and beyond:71

1. Continue to accommodate the policy of decentralizing prosperity to the regions.

2. Strengthen the economic base and employment in urban areas to support a more systematic transition to industrialization and services for the entire national economy.

3. Strenghen and improve the efficiency and sufficiency of infrastructure services in urban areas and in new economic zones so as to increase their capabilities and their international commercial competitive position.

4. Reduce the government's role in investment in accordance with budgetary constraints by integrating fund mobilization efforts. Local authorities, state enterprises, and the private sector will share investment in infrastructure services more appropriately.

The targets are threefold:

- The Bangkok metropolis.
- Regional urban growth centres.
- The Eastern Seaboard subregion and other potential economic areas, such as several provinces in the south now identified as a potential Southern Seaboard for investment purposes.

The technology required by such planning concerns is, to a great extent, the provision of a basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, telephones, drainage, water, and more extensive public transport facilities. Concomitantly, it needs the support of the legal framework to curb excesses which may also be caused by other kinds of technology, e.g. legal sanctions against extraction of subterranean water, particularly by illegal drilling and pumps on housing estates. Urban areas also suffer from a lack of master plans concerning specific sectors that could deter overzealous investors and inhabitants from unplanned construction and other activities which may exert undue pressure on existing amenities. Bangkok is still waiting for a master plan along these lines, and the main river running through Bangkok - the Chao Phraya - is also dependent on such planning to limit water pollution through discharge of industrial and domestic wastes.

From the angle of this study, the most crucial challenge is perhaps in relation to slums and low-income settlement in urban areas. It is estimated that there are some 460 slums here with some 150,000 families at stake. Many are squatting on private and state land. Their mass organization has enabled them to enjoy a degree of bargaining power, and they have used this to assert that slum people have basic rights; particularly the right to remain on the land (even though it is not owned by them) until another piece of land is provided by the state for their habitation. There has also been an attempt to draft legislation to enable these settlements to register as juristic entities with basic rights, although this has not yet seen the light of day.

The current Sixth Plan identifies the problems of slum people as follows:

In particular the poor living in slums lack essential basic services. Even though the population classifiable as poor has declined from 11 per cent of the total Bangkok population in 1976 to 5-6 per cent at present, between 10 and 20 per cent living in overcrowded communities may be considered poor enough to warrant assistance in regard to infrastructure and social services. In providing adequate basic services to the urban poor, the responsibility for allocating funds should be shared between the central government and the local authorities.72

The Plan also identifies the following workplan for the period:73

- Construct 22,000 housing units for low-income groups and collect service charges.
- Upgrade 20,000 slum units.
- Encourage the private sector to participate in developing housing for the low-income group.

In practice, three efforts which are linked with the rights of slum people to decent shelter and the input of technology are currently visible:

1. Slum upgrading. This implies improving the habitat of existing slums. Technology on this front concerns access to infrastructure such as electricity and water, and improved habitation, e.g. housing and self-help schemes.

2. Slum relocation. This means shifting slum people from their original habitat to new locations. Here again there are problems of technological infrastructure and housing construction. In recent years, there have been complaints by slum dwellers that when landowners entice them to new sites, they are often deceived into thinking that the appropriate infrastructure will be provided on these sites.

3. Land-sharing. This experiment concerns the division of the land occupied by the slum dwellers in order to appease the claims of the landowner. The commercially viable part of the land is returned to the landowner for use as a commercial area, while (usually at the back of the same piece of land) the slum dwellers retreat to the less commercially viable part of the same plot. The slum dwellers may also buy part of the land from the landowner and then redistribute it among the dwellers. The most concrete example of this experiment is the Bangrak community, which set up a cooperative to buy a piece of land from Thai royalty, while returning a part of it to the latter. The type of technology required for this arrangement relates to the provision of the basic infrastructure and also the procurement and manufacture of the requisite building material. The key catalysts in this respect are the local authorities and the national housing agency, which need to be pressed to respond to the needs of the dwellers rather than treating them as squatters without any basic rights.

On another front, the mistakes of past urbanization can be avoided if new towns arise with proper planning and zoning. A crucial area of concern today is the Eastern Seaboard, where much industrialization and urbanization are expected in the future. With proper planning and resource allocation, one may adopt preventive strategies to prevent the negative impact of development on people and the surroundings. The blend of industries, urban construction, people's needs, and environmental concerns are exemplified by the planning for the Map Ta Phut area:74

- The Map Ta Phut area will be developed into an area for major industries, with a deep-sea port adjacent to the industrial zone to promote effective bulk cargo-handling services.

- The same area will have an industrial estate and community.

- There will be a railway line linking the Map Ta Phut industrial estate with neighbouring towns.

- Communications and electricity will be installed for the major industries and the community there.

- There will be community housing development for workers moving into the
Map Ta Phut area with their families.

- Educational and social development will go hand in hand with the community, thereby promoting the safety of life and property there.

As is often the case in Thailand, something that is well planned is not necessarily realized in practice where there are divergent interests at stake. Likewise, urbanization tends to suffer from those wishing to make easy money without correlative social responsibilities for the rest of the community.

Environmental concerns

Pervading all the issues raised so far is the spectrum of the environment, in particular its evident devastation in Thailand. It is an issue which has come to the fore most poignantly in the last few years. Natural disasters and untimely deaths have captured the imagination of the press and the population. Concurrently, there has been a rise in environmentalist lobbies which has added another dimension to human rights advocacy.

From the angle of technology, here as elsewhere there is an intrusive paradox affecting many environmental concerns: while the technology for exploitation of the environment, in particular of natural resources, is advanced, the technology for protecting the environment and for regenerating that which has been destroyed is underdeveloped.

In terms of national planning, the Sixth Plan pays much attention to the question of natural resources and the environment.75 It emphasizes the following problems. First, the land and forest question, in particular the rapid disappearance of forests through excessive logging, the problem of encroachment upon national forest land and the lack of title deeds for some 50 per cent of agricultural land. Second, water resources, in particular the insufficiency of water sources and the move away from large dams. Third, mineral resources, in particular the negative impact of mining. Fourth, fisheries, in particular the depletion of fisheries resources in Thai waters due to too effective, large-scale fishing equipment. Fifth, other resources which suffer from pollution, such as the air and rivers, and the destruction of mangroves.

With these problems in mind, the Sixth Plan enunciates the following policies having an impact on the environment, people, technology, and related rights:76

1. Coordinate the environmental development plan with economic development as a whole.

2. Plan and manage the environment by geographical area; for example, plans will be formulated for defining categories of river basin quality, managing the environment on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Songkla Lake basin. 3. Amend laws, rules, and regulations on the environment to make them more suitable and supportive of economic development in various sectors.

4. Improve the basic administrative structure for environmental work, including organizations, production of environmental personnel, follow-up and inspection, research studies, and environmental information systems.

5. Encourage the use of modern technology which allows natural resources to be used efficently and without damaging the environment or causing pollution problems.

6. Encourage a correct understanding and awareness of the environment among the private sector and the general public, who should participate in the promotion and protection of environmental quality as much as possible.

Despite the planning process, the picture at the local level is at times more complicated owing to the conflict of interests; this is illustrated by the following examples.


The technology for building large and small dams is clearly available in Thailand. The benefits for irrigation would seem to be obvious. However, in recent years other enviromental concerns have emerged that have questioned the utility of large dams, and the environmentalist lobbies have been effective in preventing further construction of large dams where they deem the human and environmental costs to be too high.

The classic case must be the Nam Chaon Dam proposed for western Thailand.77 As a large dam, it would have submerged key wildlife areas with historical interest. A number of people would have been displaced by it, while data on the environmental and social impact were lacking to justify its feasibility. The government was at first favourable to it, claiming that it was needed to store water and produce electricity. However, owing to intense lobbying by the press and environmentalists, the government has been pressured into shelving the project.

In 1990, history was repeating itself with the government's proposal to build two other dams: the Pak Moon Dam in north-eastern Thailand and the Kaen Krung Dam in southern Thailand. The former has given rise to a physical clash between ordinary people and the authorities, and a court case is pending. Although the government has given the green light for them to be built, the environmental backlash continues.


Mining has long been regulated by legislation in Thailand. For example, the Petroleum Act 1971 stipulates in section 75 that:

In conducting petroleum operations, the concessionaire shall take appropriate measures in accordance with good petroleum industry practice to prevent pollution of any place by oil, mud or any other substance.

In the event that pollution of any place by oil, mud or any substance results from the concessionaire's petroleum operations, the concessionaire shall take immediate action to combat such pollution.78

However, it is recognized that pollution, particularly in marine areas, still takes place through mining operations.

The most recent example of the clash between technology and people's concern for the environment is the mining of rock salt in north-eastern Thailand. Although prohibited by law, some entrepreneurs are extracting salt through the use of water pressure. Subsequently, when the waste water is discharged into nearby rivers, it causes the water and adjacent soil to become saline, thereby stultifying the growth of crops in the vicinity. In 1990 this issue led to a physical clash between protesting environmentalists and the police, leading to several arrests. It exemplifies the increasing politicization of environmental issues, brought about by the conflict between vested interests, the utilization of technology, environmental protection, and the people's livelihood.


Although logging is controlled by various forestry laws, there has been rampant illegal logging over the past few decades. It was in large part due to such deforestation and the exploitative use of technology that there was a catastrophic mudslide in southern Thailand in 1988, which led to a national outcry about deforestation.

One should at this juncture distinguish between the practice of ordinary villagers in chopping wood for their basic needs and that of larger vested interests in acquiring logs for commercial gain. It is the latter which is objectionable. In response to this situation and the 1988 disaster, in 1989 the government enacted a royal decree revoking all logging concessions in national forest areas, subject to compensation for existing concessionaires.79

Although the legal situation now looks brighter, the reality of illegal logging continues. One of the current issues is how to enable the village level to participate more in growing and preserving forests. Hence the idea of community forests or social forestry protected by localities is gaining ground, although it has yet to be implemented in practice.

Land Reform

As already noted, only 50 per cent of agricultural land has title deeds.80 Meanwhile, there is great encroachment upon national forest land owing to demographic pressures. One of the complaints related to technology in this respect is that the maps and cadastral surveys undertaken by officials often diverge from and land areas and rights claimed by villagers.

The land issue is of enormous importance in view of the sharp rise in land prices over the past two years, due mainly to incoming foreign investment. Any attempt to promote land reform is thus a sensitive subject. Nevertheless, the Sixth Plan has set the following aims:81 - To accelerate the issue of title deeds. - To formulate a national land-use plan to ensure that land resources are developed and used efficiently.

- To promote land reform to enable landless and tenant farmers to have their own land to earn a living.
- To accelerate land allocation to self-help settlements and cooperatives.
- To issue temporary possession documents to people encroaching upon national reserve areas.

A positive step in this area is the 1989 Agricultural Land Reform Act, which permits the conversion of national reserve land to agricultural land, and the transfer of such land coupled with possessory rights to needy farmers.

Commercial Forestry

In the past few years, there has arisen another form of investment which has affected forestry in Thailand: commercial forestry and the introduction of eucalyptus from Australia. As a hardy plant, it has been distributed to farmers in areas where the soil is arid. It has also been used to cover denuded forest areas and is exported to other countries as a commercial raw material. Recently there has been a backlash against the spread of this plant in Thailand.82 Rural people have claimed that it deprives the soil of essential nutrients, thereby destroying nearby crops. However, there is another lobby which suggests that the plant does not harm the environment. As there is a clash of evidence between both parties, the problem is still unsettled. What is clear is that there is among many rural people a feeling of mistrust for this plant which has been transferred to rural Thailand as a technological innovation.

Toxic Wastes

The problem of pesticides was referred to earlier in relation to agriculture. It is closely linked with the broader dimension of toxic wastes in Thailand, including those transported here from abroad. A while ago, this issue came to the fore when a row of drums containing toxic waste, which had been transported from a neighbouring country, was found at Bangkok port. Here again, one is faced with the conflict between advanced technology that produces such waste and transports it to this country, and not enough technology at the level of prevention. Much will depend not only upon local laws and policies, which already exist, but also on international agreements, including bilateral arrangements to curb such transfers. For the present, Thailand has not yet signed the Basel Convention on the transport of toxic wastes. 83

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The advent of EIA in Thailand can be traced back to 1981 when the Ministry of Technology issued its notification requiring specific projects to submit information for assessment of the project's impact on the environment.84 A report by experts submitted to the National Environment Board is now needed if the projects are to get the go-ahead for implementation. That board is entitled to approve or reject the project within 30 days of the submission. The types of operations subjected to this procedure tend to be large-scale, e.g. mining activities, the building of dams and ports, and various industries such as petrochemicals.

The EIA itself is contingent upon the use of technology. The expert's report depends heavily upon statistical analyses, including matrices concerning the potential impact of the project in question. In a way, it is a manifestation of the use of technology for the positive pursuit of environmental protection.

If there are shortcomings with the present system, they tend to stem from the scientific nature of the EIA itself. Measurements conducted on intricate matters of pollution are faced with difficulties unless appropriate equipment is available. Statistics also tend to prove quantity rather than quality and lack sufficient analysis of the impact on human livelihood and sentiments. One shortcoming in this respect is the failure to study in depth the repercussions of each project on the people who live nearby or who are displaced in the process. The loss of their way of life cannot be measured by statistics alone.

The socialization process

Socialization refers to the development of the individual from infancy upwards; it is intertwined with the educational system, whether through formal education in schools, through non-formal programmes, or through informal education such as family upbringing. It is intrinsically based upon the right to education and hence the maximization of the potential of the individual in the process of development.

Two basic questions are of interest to this study. First, to what extent does technology contribute to the socialization process in general, particularly in the educational system? Second, to what extent does technology help to promote human rights education in particular?

Technology and the Educational System

The present formal educational system in Thailand is based upon six years' compulsory education, which is being extended to nine years. At the primary level, the enrolment rate is over 90 per cent, but the numbers of those reaching secondary school and tertiary institutions are less impressive.85 There is a high unemployment rate among ax-students in certain quarters (particularly among law students).

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Technology, the past decade some 247,000 students of science and technology have been produced by the formal educational system.86 Yet currently there is a great shortage of technically proficient personnel. The institutions producing engineers and technicians complain that they are unable to meet the demands of industry in view of Thailand's rapid industrialization. The demand and supply pattern is illustrated in tables 6-8.

Beyond the industrial spectrum, the impact of education and technically proficient students on the country's development process is less clear. While computerization has arrived at universities and vocational training institutions in urban areas, it has yet to arrive at the classroom in rural areas. There are also some misgivings among educators that technology will make students lazy. The advent of calculators, for example, has meant that many students are unable to do simple calculations without resorting to these calculators. On the other hand, simple educational technology such as overhead projectors and videos is still insufficiently used in the classroom, even if it is available. The classroom methodology tends to perpetuate the old style of lecturing and learning by rote, with the teacher in a magistral position.

At another level, one is tempted to ask the following questions, for which there are no ready answers. Has the formal educational system really helped to upgrade agricultural techniques and to improve the condition of rural people? Has it prevented the brain drain of rural students to urban areas in search of jobs in industry?

From the standpoint of non-formal and informal education, the impact of technology is felt among the ordinary population in both positive and negative ways. A number of courses offered by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture to those who are out of school provide for technological training, e. g. basic mechanics. Television and radio programmes also provide key information which may help the ordinary population; the radio is a particularly effective means of communicating with outlying areas, and its educational programmes often offer tips to farmers concerning technology and farming needs.

Yet the impact of technological knowledge has its negative side. As already noted, the excessive dependency of farmers on pesticides and fertilizers has vast personal and ecological repercussions of a detrimental kind. The message for the future seems to be to stress the importance of the type of technological knowledge that will enable people to choose between different forms of technology so as to minimize negative consequences.

Technology and Human Rights Education

The field of human rights education poses a great challenge to educationists in Thailand today precisely because it has been neglected for so long. While substantive courses on human rights are found at the tertiary level, the other levels of education only have fleeting references to it.87 At the secondary level, there are no substantive courses on human rights, but there may be reference to human rights in the elective course on law which stududents may choose to do. The human rights message may also be conveyed through other courses relating to social sciences. At the primary level, the situation is similar; there is no substantive course on human rights, but there may be reference thereto in the courses on life experiences and general knowledge. For example, in referring

Table 6. Summary of higher education institutions in Thailand

Type of institution


Number of institutions/campuses

Government universities

Doctoral degree


Master's degree

Post-graduate certificate

Bachelor's degree


Private universities

Bachelor's degree



Higher Certificate of

Vocational Education (P-V-S)

Institute of Technology and Vocational Education (ITVE)

Bachelor's degree


Advanced Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-T)

Higher Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-S)

Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-CH)

Government vocational colleges

Bachelor's degree


Advanced Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-T)

Higher Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-S)

Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-CH)

Private vocational colleges

Bachelor's degree


Advanced Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-T)

Higher Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-S)

Certificate of Vocational Education (P-V-CH)

Source: Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Competitiveness: A Case Study of Thai/and (World Bank, 1990), p. 63

Table 7a. S&T manpower production compared to total formal education output

Area code








Postgraduate degrees

















































S&T total








Gnd total








Bachelor's degrees

















































S&T total








Gnd total








Below bachelor's degrees

















































S&T total








Gnd total








Total S&T manpower

















































S&T total








Gnd total








a. Area codes are defined in table 8.
b. Excludes data on private universities of around 5,000 graduates in non-S&T fields.

Table 7b. S&T manpower production compared to total formal education output

Area code








Postgraduate degrees

















































S&T total








Bachelor's degrees

















































S&T total








Below bachelor's degrees











































0 0.0






S&T total








Total S&T manpower

















































S&T total








a. All figures represent the share of the respective S&T category in total output of higher education institutions at that level.

b. This figure would be 18.4 per cent if private sector graduates were included.
Source: Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Cornpetiriveness: A Case Study of Thailand (World Bank, 1990), pp. 64-65.

Table 8. Projected excess demand for S&T manpower by fielda





































Bachelor's degrees































Vocational training



- 13,237

- 1,426

- 19,949




- 9,027

- 9,763

- 13,964




- 9,943

- 10,677

- 14,086




- 1,665

- 1,517









a. B = Biotechnology; E = Electronics technology; M = Material technology; T = Related technology; S = Physical science.

b. A negative number denotes excess supply.

Source: Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Competitiveness: A Case Study of Thailand (World Bank, 1990), p. 66. to the country's Constitution, there is likely to be a reference to the right to vote and participation in the democratic process.

However, one may generalize that, up to the tertiary level, formal schooling tends to inculcate a sense of duties rather than rights.88 Children are taught about the duty to pay tax, the duty to register births and deaths, and the duty of conscription, without necessarily being offered a broader vision of human rights and current problems pertaining to them in Thai society. A key example is the paucity of references to children's and women's rights from childhood upwards. Which classroom raises the issues of child labour and child prostitution, which are widespread in Thai society?

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and well-read teachers will no doubt refer to such issues. However, unless these issues of human rights are inserted directly into the curriculum, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, the obligation to disseminate human rights will be missing.

What is the impact of technology on such education? Again the message of the uninventive classroom pervades many educational institutions. The formal lecture still persists in pedagogy, coupled with the dominant role of the teacher and lack of participation on the part of students. The stifling of critical analysis and of active interchange of views is commonplace. Likewise, when there are non-formal training programmes, there is still a lack of imagination on how to diversify educational materials and methodology.

In this respect, one may claim that the appropriate use of technology for human rights education can help to instil a deeper consciousness of human rights issues. For instance, one need hardly observe that a lecture about child prostitution is likely to be bland unless it is accompanied by a slide show or video of the problem of prostitution. The affective, the cognitive, and the psychomotor can all be influenced by proper educational technology.

Some of the recent experiments in Thailand in this regard include non-formal courses for villagers, children out of school, and youth about the law and their basic rights.89 An example is the programme initiated by various law faculties and the Department of Public Prosecutions offering courses to village leaders.90 There are usually accompanied by an initial needs assessment of the target groups themselves, i.e. what are their problems and how should the course respond to their needs? The programmes vary in length and content, but there has been a gradual recognition of the need to diversify the teaching technology. Thus the use of transparencies, videos, games, cartoons, and plays has become more common in the training process.

On another front, the rise of concern for women's and children's rights has led to courses with more imaginative use of educational materials. The materials produced include games on the rights of child labourers, cartoons on the rights of child labourers and the dangers of child prostitution, consumer protection, and the hazards of drug abuse. It is also felt that one must reach out not only to the potential exploited person but also the potential exploiter. For example, the Law Communicators Group has produced, with the Child Labour Home in Bangkok, a little diary for children warning them of the dangers of child labour, the risks of signing contracts without reading the contents, and the addresses of institutions providing help if in need. Complementary to this, as a catalyst to stimulate the concern of the potential abuser, the group is also producing a calendar to educate employers about labour law and warn them against violations. In this sense, technology can exert a preventive impact on potential human rights violations.

One of the latest experiments is to train rural youth in law and basic rights. The Child Welfare Association, in cooperation with law teachers and students, is undertaking the training of youth from all over the country.91 The materials prepared are in response to a feasibility study to assess the target groups' needs. The educational materials produced in keeping with these needs include games, videos, posters, cartoons, and simple handouts concerning such issues as land law, criminal procedure, environmental concerns, and contractual obligations. These are tested with some of the target groups to see whether they respond to the latter's needs before they are widely disseminated.

Equally important in the educational process is the evaluation of the impact of the information conveyed. Traditionally, the technique for doing this was based upon general examinations. However, these often failed to take into account the long-term implications of education, particularly the aspects of social consciousness and community involvement. Long-term impact assessment is now being tried in Thailand by monitoring the trainees over a long period to observe the consequences of what they have learnt and how they perform in community life.


This study has undertaken an examination of various factors underlying the linkage between human rights and technology, including the dimensions of rural and agricultural development, industrialization, urbanization, environment, and socialization. Some of the lessons learnt include the following:

1. Rural deprivation is more often than not linked to the basic needs of ordinary people. In a sense, the lack of basic necessities and services can be seen as a breach of basic human rights, in particular the right to development. This is not an area where advocacy in ordinary courts of law will lead to relevant remedies. What is important is to gain access to the development planning process, in particular state development agencies, and the budgetary and other resources that can lead to the fulfillment these needs. It is pressure on these elements that can bring about more change in rural areas.

On this front, technology can help not only to identify the basic needs of rural people but also to respond to those needs through development projects catering to what is appropriate at the local level. Needless to say, these elements depend heavily upon the political and social will of those who control the power and resources of the state.

2. Access to technology in rural development is interlinked with other determinants, in particular the decentralization of decision-making and popular participation. Unless these determinants are recognized and brought into operation, the development process is likely to remain top-down, with elements of superimposition derogating from spontaneous processes and from inspiration given by the right to development. This consideration has relevance for the organization and, indeed, the nature of the nation-state itself and for the concentration of power and resources in urban areas and in the hands of the elite.

3. Human rights and technology depend upon access to facilities, such as investment promotion and credit availability, which may enhance the choices of ordinary people in the industrialization process. This is pertinent to rural areas, where small-scale industries may help to supplement income and enable local people to diversify their products, complemented by the diffusion of technology to such areas, for example, through subcontracting.92 The present structure does not lend itself sufficiently to the choices that can lead to rural industrialization and the desired benefits.

4. While agricultural development has been overshadowed by the surge in manufacturing for export purposes, one should not underestimate the continued importance of agriculture in terms of the basic livelihood of the majority of the Thai population, and also in terms of nutrition. Technology can help to bolster this position by enabling farmers to be more productive, more cost-effective, and more knowledgeable in the management and marketing of their crops. It can help them limit their dependency on middlemen and to gain the maximum return for their efforts.

5. While there have been positive technological advances to help agriculture, e. g. through more extensive irrigation and better cultivars, the need for appropriate use of fertilizers and insecticides still remains unsatisfied. There is the worrying scenario that farmers have become too dependent upon chemicals without exploring the natural elements that may be available on their home ground. Natural fertilizers and insecticides developed from materials available in the local community should be encouraged, and technology should be harnessed to complement this quest.

6. The scale of industrialization in Thailand is such that it is not necessarily responsive to local needs. The large-scale, capital-intensive, and export-led industries are not necessarily of benefit to the majority of the population. There is no guarantee that the benefits from this kind of industrialization will be distributed equitably among the population. Ironically, the investment incentives are more readily available for these industries than for those of a more modest nature, which are closer in their impact to the broad mass of the population.

7. The urbanization factor is still tilted towards the concentration of people in urban sprawls, which have a magnetic pull for rural people. There is a need for effective urban planning, with details for specific sectors, ranging from zoning of industrial areas to community development and infrastructural services. Technology can assist in all these sectors, bearing in mind the ecological challenges of urban pollution and congestion. The concerns of slums, in particular the right to shelter and the appropriate technology for this purpose, should not be forgotten in the process.

8. Environmental degradation is in large part due to the misuse of technology coupled with human failings. More research and development should be undertaken to promote local technology suitable for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and for the renewal of those resources which are already depleted. Consideration of scale is also relevant; the big-is-beautiful concept of development is increasingly impugned, as exemplified by the rising discontent with large dams. Alternatives should be found in smaller-scale operations which balance state, community, personal, and environmental interests.

9. The impact of technology on humans and the environment should be assessed by means of broader determinants than those currently envisaged by the environmental impact assessment techniques available. In particular, the qualitative nature of the impact, particularly on social dislocation and human displacement, should not be underestimated. The types of industries and projects to be covered by such tests need to be more comprehensive.

10. While not neglecting the need for more engineers and technicians to assist the rapid industrialization of the country, the promotion of education to bring about a more technically proficient population as a whole should be underlined.93 This should take into account the special concerns of women and children, and the environmental consequences of technological innovations. The channels for upgrading the level of knowledge include both formal educational institutions and non-formal channels such as the mass media.

11. Access to human rights information should be enhanced though more imaginative use of educational technology. This implies the development of innovative educational materials to respond to the needs of different target groups, including the illiterate. Diversifying information flow implies the need to be geared more towards a communications approach than towards a legalistic approach to human rights education.

12. More research and development of local technology is desirable to tackle the issues already noted. The following shortcoming should be rectified:

Little research and development (R&D) is done by private firms in Thailand. A 1982 survey on manpower and research and development activities of 105 companies found that their R&D budgets were only 0.1 per cent of sales. Only 2 per cent of research expenditures were contracted out to public research institutions of universities, showing very little interaction with publicly funded research establishments or universities. Personnel involved in R&D were only 0.21 per cent of the total workforce - equivalent to only 1.3 full-time employees per company. In addition, only 0.2 per cent of the science and technology personnel had doctoral degrees, only 3 per cent had master's degrees, 24 per cent had a bachelor's degree, and the remaining 73 per cent had less than a bachelor's degree.94

While budgeting and more qualified personnel are required, there is another factor particularly affecting outlying areas: the desirability of decentralizing research activities to provincial and regional areas so as to link research programmes more closely with local problems, thereby ensuring direct cooperation and comprehension of local settings.

13. While it is difficult to assess the impact of technology transfer from abroad through leek of an appropriate database, one may advocate the idea of a move away from the type of turnkey transfers which do not genuinely enhance human resources development and knowledge at the local level. The dependency syndrome created by excessive reliance on foreign investment is not conducive to broadening the base of local industries, in particular in rural areas where the majority of people live.

14. While traditionally human rights were advocated against agents of the state in the exercise of their power against individuals and groups, the role and responsibility of the private business sector has come to the fore because of its impact on human rights and technology. One is at a juncture when accountability is not only expected from the state but also from the private sector. This is closely related to the exploitation of natural resources and the development process.

15. The rise of environmentalist groups as allies in human rights advocacy attests to the broadening of human rights to cover environmental concerns. This correlates with the assertion that the ecosystem affects not only this generation but also posterity, thereby having intergenerational implications. It also pinpoints the pattern of human rights advocacy, which has moved beyond organizations dealing with political rights to others dealing with socio-economic and environmental concerns.

16. Protection of human rights through appropriate utilization of technology calls into play the role of popular participation and the ability of individuals to form groups to fight for their rights.95 This is pertinent to the claims of rural people and disadvantaged sectors of the community, who have little access to the power structure and to control of technology. Unless the voice of the community is increased, people's access to the corridors of power and their impact on the responsiveness and accountability of those who hold the reins of power is likely to be limited. This implies the need to promote both formal groups, such as cooperatives, and non-formal groups, such as unregistered farmers' associations, as manifestations of popular participation

17. The fear that technology will result in a process of dehumanization, with overdependence upon computerization and machinery, should be countered by making technology serve human needs in the broadest sense of the term. This implies the utilization of technology, coupled with a sense of equity, for improving the lives of the ordinary pople.96

18. Training of manpower to respond to the development process should not merely be oriented to the production of material goods but also to the preservation of the cultural heritage and spiritual aspirations. If technology is to go hand in hand with these aspects, all concerned, including policy makers and technologically proficient personnel, will need to avoid too much emphasis upon the material aspects of development and to guide the utilization of technology towards the promotion of its non-material dimensions as well.

Ultimately, this implies that technology and human rights should not be seen merely as ends in themselves, but as a means of ensuring survival through the enhancement of the interdependence between nature and humanity.

Appendix 1

The following is a list of projects on science and technology, identified in the current planning of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Energy (1990):

1. Study of improvements concerning the structure of the ministry.
2. Preparation of long-term plan on science and technology
3. Establishment of national committee on science and technology.
4. Drafting of law to develop science and technology.
5. Development of the ministry's potential in planning, administration, and operation.
6. Activities concerning analysis and evaluation of technology.
7. Development of the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research.
8. Development of service personnel in science and technology.
9. Development of engineering.
10. Development of electronics and computers.
11. Development of technology and materials.
12. Remote sensing.
13. Setting up of factories for mineral transformation.
14. Research on rockets.
15. Development of nuclear substance.
16. Research on science and nuclear technology.
17. Development of the National Research Council.
18. Technology transfer for the automobile industry.
19. Nuclear technology transfer.
20. Establishment of committee on technology transfer.
21. Cooperative activities with other countries on science and technology.
22. Promotion of technology transfer through the private sector.
23. Planning for cooperation with other countries on technology transfer.
24. Development of laboratories.
25. Development of information centre on science and technology.
26. Development of indices on science and technology.
27. Setting up of revolving fund for research on science and technology.
28. Support for scientific and technological associations.
29. Establishment of joint private and public sector committee on science and technology.
30. Activities to raise funds for research.
31. Development of robots.
32. Pooling of resources for science and technology.
33. Dissemination of knowledge on science and technology.

Apart from these projects, there are many others falling under different sectors such as environment, rural development, and urbanization.


1. For general reading see C.G. Weeramantry, ea., Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development (UNU, Tokyo, 1990); G. Brand, "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments," Human Rights Journal, vol. 4 (1971): 351364; R. Diwan, "Transfer of Hard Technologies and Debasement of Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 4 (1981): 19-44; M.D. Kirby, "Human Rights - The Challenge of the New Technology," Australian Law Journal, vol. 60 (1986): 170-181; M.D. Kirby, "Human Rights and Technology: A New Dilemma," University of British Columbia Law Review, vol. 22, no. 11 (1988): 123-145.

2. Bangkok Post Mid-year Economic Review (Bangkok, Post, Bangkok, 1990), p.11.

3. For general reading concerning the Thai situation, see Jaran Kosananand, Law, Liberty and Rights in Thai Society (Coordinating Group for Religion and Society, Bangkok, 1985) (in Thai); Saneh Chamarik, The Development of Human Rights in Thailand (Union for Civil Liberties, Bangkok, 1988) (in Thai); The Rights of the Thai Population (Coordinating Committee for Human Rights, Bangkok, 1989) (in Thai); Vitit

Muntarbhorn, Rights and Duties in Contemporary Thailand (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, forthcoming).

4. This research was completed before the coup d'état in Thailand in February 1991.

5. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Press for Freedom," Far Eastern Economic Review, 30 August 1990, p. 20

6. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Human Rights and the Development Policies of Asian Nations," paper presented at the Conference on Human Rights and Foreign Policy, Columbia University, New York, June 1988.

7. UN GA Res. 41/128, 4 December 1986.

8. UN Doc. E/3447/Rev.l, pare. 90.

9. UN Doc. E/CN.4/1334, pare. 27

10. R.S. Merrill, "The Study of Technology," in D.L. Sills, ed. International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, vol. 15 (Macmillan, New York, 1968), p. 576, as cited by H.V. Perlmuller and T. Sagafi-Ngad, International Technology Transfer- Guidelines, Codes and a Muffed Quadrilogue (Pergamon Press, 1981), p. 5.

11. F.R. Root, "The Role of International Business in the Diffusion of Technological Innovation," Economic and Business Bulletin, vol. 20, no. 4 (1968): 17-24, as cited by international Technology Transfer (note 10 above), p. 5.

12. Perlmuller and Sagafi-Nejad (note 10 above), p. 6.

13. Technology for Development (UN ESCAP, Tokyo, 1984), p. 3.

14. Mingsarn Santikarn, Technology Transfer (Singapore University Press, Singapore, 1981), p. 6.

15. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 6.

16. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 7.

17. Santikarn (note 14 above), p. 7.

18. Negotiation on an International Code of Conduct on the Transfer of Technology (UNCTAD, 1980), p. 12.

19. UNCTAD (note 18 above), p. 12.

20. UNCTAD (note 18 above), p. 12.

21. Narong Rattana, "Technology Transfer to Rural Areas," Technology: Quarterly Dissemination Documents, vol. 5, no. 1 (1984): 1-20, 13 (in Thai).

22. Boontan Doktaisong, Appropriate Technology for Thai Rural Development (Odeon Store Press, Bangkok, 1987), p. 219 (in Thai).

23. Science and Technology Policies: Evolution and Operation (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1988), pp. 18-19.

24. A statement by the then Prime Minister of Thailand, Prem Tinsulanonda, exemplified the open arms attitude towards the role of foreign investment in 1984, as reported in the Bangkok Post, 8 July 1984, p. 1: "Thailand has had no negative experience with multinational corporations, although I am aware that opinions differ on their role in other countries. They can make substantial contributions in transferring technology and management know-how to local entrepreneurs."

25. The 1978 Constitution has the following provision on technology, research and development: "Section 61: The state should encourage researches in arts and sciences and should promote the application of science and technology in the development of the country."

26. Industrial Property (Laws and Treaties), May 1980, Text 1-000, pp. 001-012. For comments, see Thailand Business Legal Handhook (International Legal Counsellors/Board of Investment, Bangkok, 1984).

27. See note 26 above.

28. See note 26 above.

29. Collection of Laws Pertaining to Investment Promotion (Board of Investment, Bangkok, 1983).

30. Manual for Requesting Reduction of Tariffs on Machinery, Materials and Equipment to Save Energy and Protect the Environment (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1988), pp. 9-40 (in Thai).

31. Manual for Loan Applications for the Revolving Fund for Research and Development of Technology (Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy, Bangkok, 1986) (in Thai).

32. Fifth National Economic and Social Development Plan (National Economic and Social Development Plan, Bangkok, 1981), p. 278.

33. GA Res. 35/56, 5 December 1980, annex, pare. 95.

34. Training Manual for Basic Minimum Needs Indicators in Rural Areas (Community Development Department, Bangkok, 1989) (in Thai).

35. See note 34 above, annex, pp. 19-20.

36. See further, The Quality of Life Project 1985-87 (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1987), Manual for Utilisation of Basic Minimum Needs Indicators (Gor Chor Chor Song Kor) (Community Development Department, Bangkok, 1989). Cf. Compendium of Social Development Indicators in the ESCAP Region (UN ESCAP, n.d.).

37. See note 34 above, p. 30.

38. Basic Minimum Needs and Services for Children (National Youth Bureau, Bangkok, 1990) (in Thai). The indicators include nutritional needs, physical needs, mental needs, educational needs, cultural needs, occupational needs, and needs concerning political rights and duties.

39. Pilop Potipruck, "The Death of Thai Farmers and Agriculture," Matichon Newspaper, 26 February 1987, pp. 6-7 (in Thai).

40. "Directions for Agricultural Development," Economic and Social Journal, vol. 25, no. 2 (1988): 18-24 (in Thai).

41. The Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plan (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1987), pp. 149- 167.

42. Tamrong Prempridi et al., Research Projects on Appropriate Technology for Rural Development (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, n.d.).

43. Somnuk Siplung, "The National Plan Abandons Agriculture," Thai Rath Newspaper, 5 January 1988, p. 8 (in Thai).

44. Compendium of Plant Species (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1987) (in Thai).

45. Mingsarn Kaosa-Ard et al., eds., Agricultural Information and Technological Change in Northern Thailand (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1989), p. 31.

46. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above), p. 36.

47. The Use of Technology by Farmers in Rice Cultivation (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1987), p. 44 (in Thai).

48. See note 47 above, p. 45.

49. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above).

50. Kaosa-Ard et al. (note 45 above).

51. See note 47 above, p. 116.

52. See note 47 above, p. 116.

53. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

54. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

55. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above).

56. Prempridi et al. (note 42 above), p. 35

57. For further reading on land problems, particularly the link with national forestry, and the changing pattern of landholdings, see "The Management of Agricultural Resources," Economic and Social Journal, vol. 25, no. 5 (1988): 2-29 (in Thai); Thailand Natural Resources Profile (Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, 1987), chap. 2.

58. Costs and Conditions of Technology Transfer through Transnational Corporations (UN ESCAP/UNCTC, 1984).

59. Technology Strategy and Policy for Industrial Competitiveness: A Case Study of Thailand (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1990), p. 33.

60. D. Menasveta and K.I. Matics, "Technical Assistance Rendered by the Federal Republic of Germany to Thailand (1961-75) in Marine Fisheries Research and Development," Report of the Working Party on the Promotion of Fishery Resources Research in Developing Countries (FAO, Rome, 1980), pp. 193-211.

61. See note 32 above, p. 60.

62. See note 32 above, part IV, chap. 2.

63. See note 32 above, p. 63.

64. See note 32 above, p. 215.

65. Kosit Panpiemras, ea., Rural Industrialisation in Thailand (National Economic and Social Development Board, Bangkok, 1988), p. 73.

66. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 24. The World Bank study notes: ''sub-contracting has not developed to the extent necessary to play a role in the industrial deepening process in Thailand. Weaknesses in the quality of supporting industries, especially in the engineering fields, may be expected to continue as important stumbling blocks. Basic support industries are extremely limited in two areas: 1. traditional technologies such as foundry, forging, metal fabrications; and 2. newer technology industries such as powder metallurgy, ceramic coating, precision mechanics, fine chemicals and engineering plastics. In a country such as Thailand where smaller enterprises are so numerous, subcontracting could be an important transmitter of technology. "

67. See note 29 above.

68. The operation of this and other financial institutions concerning small-scale industries is elaborated in Akira Kuroda and Shuji Kasajima, The Development Strategies for the Small and Medium Scale Industries in Thailand (Ministry of Industry, Bangkok, 1987).

69. See note 68 above.

70. Sompong Patpui, The Rights of Slums (Thai Khadi Institute, Bangkok, 1987) (in Thai).

71. See note 41 above, pp. 289-290.

72. See note 41 above, p. 292.

73. See note 41 above, p. 297

74. See note 41 above, pp. 321-322.

75. See note 41 above, pp. 111-112; Thira Phatumvanit and Suthawan Sathirathai, "Thailand: Degradation and Development in a Resource-rich Land," Environment, vol. 30, no. 1 (1988): 11-32.

76. Phatumvanit and Sathirathai (note 75 above), pp. 135-145.

77. The Nam Choan Dam and World Sanctuary (Lovers of Forests Group, Bangkok, 1988) (in Thai).

78. Royal Thai Government Gazette, vol. 88, no. 43, 23 April 1971, reprinted by the De partment of Mineral Resources, Bangkok, pp. 1-38.

79. Royal Thai Government Gazette, vol. 106, no. 9, part 8 (special issue), 14 January 1989 (in Thai).

80. See note 41 above. The Sixth Plan notes (p. 112): "At present 33 million rai of national reserve area has been encroached upon, representing 25.8 per cent of total reserves. There are no title deeds for approximately 50 per cent of agricultural land, which creates uncertainty regarding ownership on the part of the farmers. This ownership problem has also impeded the growth of efficiency in land use because there is no incentive for farmers to improve and maintain the land. As a result, the crop yield tends to decrease. These factors, together with an increase in population, contribute to additional encroachments on forest land for cultivation purposes, which, in turn, leads to further destruction of forest areas and more land ownership problems."

81. See note 41 above, p. 137; also W. Tips et al., Implementation Problems of Agricultural Land Reform in Thailand (Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, 1987).

82. Eucalyptus Plantation in Thailand (Ministry of Agriculture, Bangkok, 1986); Siam Rath Weekly, 2-15 April 1989, pp. 16-43 (in Thai).

83. For leading article and text, see International Law: News and Information from Asia and the Pacifc (Bangkok, UNESCO, June 1990).

84. Chalermsak Wanichsombat, "Administration of Environmental Impact Assessment in Thailand," paper presented at the Expert Group Meeting on Environmental Impact Assessment of Development Projects, Bangkok, August 1988. See further, Environmental Impact Assessment: A Guideline for Planners and Decision Makers (UN ESCAP, Bangkok, 1985).

85. The current situation (1990) is documented in First National Assembly on Child Development: Report (Office of the Prime Minister, Bangkok, 1990).

86. The Situation concerning Science and Technology in Thailand (Ministry of Science, Technology, and Energy, Bangkok, 1987), p. 81 (in Thai).

87. For the situation in Asia, including Thailand, see Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Teaching Programmes and Systems in Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific," paper presented at the UNESCO International Congress on Human Rights Teaching, Information and Documentation, Malta, August-September 1987.

88. Vitit Muntarbhorn, "Practical Teaching of Human Rights," Human Rights Today and Tomorrow: The Role of Human Rights Commissions and Other Organs (LAWASIA Human Rights Committee, Manila, 1988), pp. 280-309.

89. Alternative Human Rights for Thai Youth: A Report (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 1986).

90. Summary Report of the Village Mediation Project (Chulalongkorn University/ Department of Public Prosecutions, Bangkok, 1988) (mimeo).

91. Report of the Legal Literacy/Dissemination Project for Thai Agricultural Youth (Law Communicators Group/Child Welfare Association, Bangkok, 1990) (mimeo).

92. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 44.

93. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 45.

94. World Bank (note 59 above), p. 30.

95. See further, Poverty: World Development Report 1990 (World Bank/Oxford University Press, New York, 1990), chap. 4.

96. See further, Weeramantry (note I above).

(introductory text...)


* In cooperation with Andrzej Gorzym, Michal Kulesza, Jan Monkiewicz, Józefa Pamielec, Maria Sierpinska, Danuta Stawasz, Jerzy Stawasz, Jerzy Szczepanik, Andrzej Werblan, and Lech Zacher.

Preface: objective and methodology of the project

This project aims at finding relationships between human rights and technological progress in East European countries (with special reference to Poland). An attempt has been made to find out whether this relationship is positive or negative, i.e. whether technological progress violates human rights or is compatible with them, as well as whether human rights stimulate or hamper technological progress. The study also tries to establish which of the two is a determinative factor: i.e. is it human rights that determine technological progress or vice versa - or is this a two-way relationship?

The study concentrates on these relationships in the form that existed in the past and on crucial changes in this field taking place at present. Owing to the significance and pace of these changes, scope for the prognostic part has been rather limited.

The study should be seen as a pioneer work, as no research of this kind has been conducted in Eastern Europe before and had to be undertaken from scratch. The project was worked on by seven research groups consisting of lawyers, economists, and sociologists, both theorists and practitioners. They decided to compare legislation in force in Poland with actual situations pertaining to particular technologies. Special attention was given to two major industrial centres (Cracow and Lódz), as well as to traditional technologies (steel and textiles) and new technologies (nuclear energy and telecommunications).

General evaluation of Eastern Europe as a political region

The theoretical concept of human rights in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe was, throughout the first 40 years of their existence, determined by the philosophical doctrine of Karl Marx. Its essence, so far as it is relevant to the present study, lies in two propositions: first, the necessity to subordinate the particular interests of the individual to the collective interests of society as a whole, and, second, the necessity to concentrate on basic citizens' rights.1

According to Marx, human needs are formed by two groups of factors. On the one hand "man is an implicitly natural being. As a natural being he is endowed with natural forces, with vital forces, and is an active natural being. These forces exists as his dispositions and abilities, as his impulses." At the same time, as a "natural, corporal, sensual and objective being, he is a passive, experiencing, conditioned and limited being." 2 In other words, man is, according to Marx, an absolutely flexible creature that changes together with changing social relations.3 This means that although man at his birth already has some specific dispositions and abilities which provide a framework for his individual development, the character, content, and scope of this development are determined by historically changing social conditions, which create a socially situated, concrete human individual.4 According to Marx, every man has the right to utilize his abilities, the whole richness of his personality.

In Marx's view capitalism, through alienation and the treatment of human beings as objects, creates social relations which make it impossible to satisfy even the most basic human needs. The selfish needs of the owners of capital are simply incompatible with the ideal of the equal right of every human being to self-realization. In capitalism "every man thinks of how to awake a new need in another man, which leads to a new dependence." 5 In this sense capitalism creates many false needs that make the self-realization of a man impossible.

In contrast to capitalism, as Marx put it, socialism creates genuine needs which result from man's striving to achieve to realization of his abilities. They can be satisfied only on the basis of the prevalence of social property and socialist relations in production. Thus, in socialism the satisfaction of the needs of an individual acquires a collective character. This happens to be so because the opportunities for individual (intellectual, emotional, and biological) development strictly depend on the availability of opportunities for development to the whole of society, and are opportunities which are equal for all groups in society. It is here that the "just" character of socialism lies. Obviously, taking advantage of equal opportunities by particular individuals depends on their individual abilities.

The above Marxian interpretation of human rights and their division into "genuine" and "false" exerted considerable influence on the empirical approach to human rights in the practising socialist countries of Eastern Europe. (For this reason the concept of "Eastern Europe" relates to a political, rather than a geographic, region.)6

In these countries special stress was laid, first, on the so-called rights and freedoms of citizens and, second, on the subordination of individual human rights to collective rights.

The main cause of the subordination of the latter was the social revolution which took place in the countries of Eastern Europe. In the Soviet Union (1917) and Yugoslavia (1945) the social revolution was carried out by their own internal forces. In the rest of the East European countries the revolution was brought about by the Soviet army, which freed these countries from Nazi occupation. Nevertheless, irrespective of its sources, the revolution resulted in the substantial redistribution of national income for the benefit of the lowest income groups and at the expense of the minority who enjoyed fairly good or good living standards. Because of the resistance of the latter, the revolution could not be carried out in conditions of liberal democracy and drastic state interference was resorted to.

The egalitarian and collectivist system which emerged as an outcome of these changes in the countries of Eastern Europe7 had many features typical of social revolutions that have taken place in economically underdeveloped countries. This was so whether the revolutions were spearheaded by leftist-Marxist movements (as in Russia or China) or by nationalist movements (as in Indonesia or Burma). Everywhere they Ied to the establishment of etatistic and populist dictorships, as the most pressing needs of the societies of these countries were stable employment and improvement of the living standards of young people, who were mostly of peasant parentage. Industrialization become a major priority.

Therefore, until the mid-1980s, in the East European countries human rights were interpreted in a selective way, with special stress being placed on equal opportunities for all members of society in their access to basic goods, such as food, clothing, and housing, and to social services such as health protection, education, or science. The above services were regarded as basic components of citizens' rights. In this sense, the rising degree of satisfaction of the fundamental needs of society was identified with an increasing degree of realization of human rights.

This interpretation determined, to a considerable degree, the approach to economic development adopted in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and, consequently, was bound to determine the role of technology in economic development. Special attention was focused on the right to work. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 27 A(III) of 10 December 1948, states:

1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. This is an idea which has been regarded as a basic aim of socialism. Equal importance attached to the right to an existential minimum:

1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood on circumstances beyond his control (Article 25 of Universal Declaration).

2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection, the right to education (Article 26 of Universal Declaration).

3. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit, and the right to participate in scientific advancement and its benefits (Article 27 of Universal Declaration).

The attitude of the East European countries towards international commitments on human rights, codified principally in three UN documents - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 1966; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 - had for many years been ambiguous. These documents were ratified by the East European countries with considerable reluctance. From a formal point of view, legislation in these countries remained in some respects in conflict with commitments on human rights. The relevant legislation provided for obligatory work, the prosecution of those evading work, much scope for compulsory labour, strong anti-emigration restrictions, limitations on the choice of places of residence, etc. These restrictions were incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, the provisions of law that prohibited the founding of political parties and trade unions, infringements of the concept of equality before the law, and the principle of the leading role of the party were incompatible with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The actual state of affairs was even worse than the formal and legal situation, especially in so far as protection of the so-called right to privacy was concerned. There was mass control of correspondence, illegal interception of telephone calls, and a large degree of abuse of power by the police. The law, for its part, hampered the protection of individual rights. Solicitors had only limited access to investigations and the independence of the courts of law was only formal.

Despite the fact that the countries of Eastern Europe violated, particularly in practice, a number of individual human rights, the governments of these countries for a long time enjoyed the support or consent of a major part of their population, especially those whose social and material status improved. However, the support was not identical in all the countries of the region. Uniform development patterns were reflected in full employment, egalitarianism in the distribution of the means of consumption, common education, and rapid urbanization coupled with large-scale housing projects. Industrialization, especially the concentration of resources for development on heavy and engineering industry, however, brought about differentiation of development opportunities in particular East European countries. At the time of the introduction of the socialist system, i.e. in the late 1940s and early 1950s, most of these countries were economically underdeveloped. This was reflected in the low level of industrialization and urbanization, huge overpopulation, low per capita income and vast areas of poverty, especially in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as in Poland, and partly also in Hungary. The situation was different in Czechoslovakia (with the exception of Slovakia) and the GDR, which inherited a relatively high level of development from the pre-socialist period. Thus, whereas in the countries with the lowest level of development the adopted model guaranteed noticeable and quite rapid socio-economic advancement, in the countries with the highest level of development the model limited development opportunities in comparison with other countries of the world that had similar conditions.

Technological progress in this system performed functions that were subservient to the achievement of the fundamental goals presented above, especially full employment, securing an existential minimum, etc. Particularly in the period devoted to the implementation of socialist principles, technological progress in the East European countries was slower than in the economically advanced countries. There were several reasons for this. First, owing to the traditional technological underdevelopment of most of the countries in the region, and their lack of advanced industry and backwardness in education and science, these countries were not in proximity to centres stimulating technological progress. Secondly, imports of modern technology to the countries of the region were low as a result of the embargo imposed on such imports during the so-called "Cold War" period, as well as of the limited capital resources of these countries. Thirdly, the application of over-sophisticated technology was deliberately avoided where there was a traditionally low level of technical culture (especially in Romania and Bulgaria, but also in Poland and Hungary) and low professional qualifications among employees, most of whom were recruited from agriculture to industry.

Therefore, the consequences of adopting the pattern of technological development described above in Eastern Europe were different in the different countries. This was due to the different cultural values and socio-economic levels of these countries, which were introduced to identical patterns of development in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In the traditionally underdeveloped countries this led ultimately to their living standards and economic development being brought up to a higher level. However, the benefits gained by the countries which represented the highest level of development were relatively smaller. Labour-intensive technologies introduced by these countries resulted in labour shortages and their low level of technological advancement started to exert an adverse effect on their overall development. These countries soon began to suffer from indirect consequences affecting the everyday life of their population, as well as from environmental pollution, unreliable equipment, etc.

The economic benefits of this model, which had been diminishing since the mid-1960s, contributed to the fact that the fascination with the solutions adapted by the East European countries after the Second World War started to subside. Even those social and economic rights which were observed, both de jure and de facto, particularly the right to work, the right to equal pay for equal work, the right to an existential minimum, the right to rest and leisure, the right to education, the right to health protection, etc., were fulfilled at a low level likely to cause discontent.

Social discontent, even if it assumed greater dimensions later, was at first directed towards the inconsistent fulfilment of those collective human rights that were identified as the main objectives of socialism, especially egalitarianism in income and access to consumer goods, social services, national rights, etc. The broader individual human rights were given less attention and environmental protection was not even mentioned.

Awareness of the need to introduce changes in this traditional model of socialism started to grow quickly in the countries of Eastern Europe. This occurred as soon as social groups interested not only in social but also in political democracy began to perform a more significant role. Over the years social movements and rebellions gain momentum and their character becomes more and more complex. Popular demands and pressure for more egalitarianism continue to be strong but the demands for more democracy, far-reaching economic reforms, and changes in the socio-economic system become more and more apparent, especially in the most influential circles. The demands put forward by environmentalists are at last voiced as a result of increased environmental damage in many regions and general world trends. An analysis of demands expressed by social movements in Eastern Europe confirms the evolution outlined above (Poland and Czechoslovakia 1968, Poland 1970, Poland 1980, USSR 1986, Poland, GDR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania 1989).

The pressure for change did not occur at the same time and with the same intensity in all East European countries. In the countries where there was a real social base for the revolution and where it was carried out without external interference, as in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, authoritarianism was stronger and more repressive, involving a more negative approach to human rights than in the countries on which the system had, to a considerable degree, been imposed, as, for example, in Poland, Hungary, the GDR, and Czechoslovakia. Differences between the countries that belonged to the victorious anti-Nazi coalition and those that were defeated in the Second World War were also of some importance. In the former the resistance against the new order introduced by the Soviet Union was stronger, e.g. Poland and Yugoslavia, whereas the countries defeated in the war turned out to be more submissive for two generations. Examples of these were the GDR, Romania, and Bulgaria. Social behaviour was also influenced by differences arising from the cultural standard and level of economic advancement of the countries concerned. The strength of movements for democratization and reform was most noticeable in Poland,

Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, and less so in Romania and Bulgaria. At the same time the theoretical approach to human rights had been under-going changes in the East European countries. Over the years the stress had been shifted from collective to individual rights and the number of basic rights had been extended. This, to a large extent, reflected changes taking place both in theory and practice in Western countries.

Preference for individual human rights seemed to mark a return to the liberal conception of those rights, on the one hand granting a superior status to the interests of the individual as opposed to the interests of the community and, on the other, presenting the individual as a creature separate from the society, an abstract and formally equal citizen lacking any characteristic features resulting from his position in the social structure.8 This approach involves thinking only in terms of individuals when considering the issue of human rights. Each case of violation of those rights is considered from the point of view of the situation and interests of a given human being. Institutional guarantees are also directed towards solving issues in their individual expression.

This preference for a liberal conception of human rights, which occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the theoretical considerations of some East European countries, is at variance with the rising world tendency for simultaneous consideration of both individual and collective (group) human rights. This situation should be seen as a natural reaction to a doctrine subordinating individual rights to collective rights which had been binding in Eastern Europe for more than 40 years. Therefore, it can be expected that the present-day fascination with the liberal conception of human rights will have a temporary character in Eastern Europe. Although the view that all economic and social rights are exclusively collective human rights is an oversimplification, it is also wrong to claim that the reverse is the case, i. e. that these rights are of an exclusively individual character. Fulfilment of many rights is by its very nature of a collective character, since it involves cooperation within the framework of a given human community. Besides, self-determination and sovereignty over natural resources, socio-economic development, peace, environmental protection, and other rights that require international cooperation have a collective character, and human communities represented by appropriate state agencies are natural subjects of this cooperation. This is why the so-called "third-generation" human rights, e. g. the right to develop, are entirely of a collective character.9 They extend the mechanisms for human rights protection to issues that directly determine the chances of fulfilment of individual rights and require close international cooperation.

Changes in the approach of theoreticians in the East European countries to basic human rights are reflected, first of all, in the stress laid on the right to a natural environment, on providing a balance between man and his ecosystem, on the right to personal security, and on the right to participation in a political system of a society.

The first of these, the right to a sound natural environment, is based on the conviction that disturbing the balance of the natural environment, whether by industrial destruction of the natural environment or by wasteful exploitation of natural resources, has a crucial impact on the ability to satisfy basic, existential human needs.

The right to personal security is one of the rights especially emphasized by theoreticians in the East European countries and this is due first of all to violations of these rights in the past. The right to personal security can be divided into several categories, namely the right to protection of human life, the right to protection against violence, the right to protection against inhuman treatment, the right to protection of human dignity and others. The first of them is especially important in the light of rapid technological progress. One of the main issues here is what act marks the beginning of the legally protected human life, birth or conception. Equally important also are deviations from the principle of the right to life. In the case of the right to protection against violence, its scope involves not only direct physical violence but also psychological violence, which, although it does not cause direct physical damage, psychologically damages the individual and in extreme cases causes the destruction of human personality. It is also in this context that technological progress is of relevance. The implementation of the right to protection against inhuman treatment includes preventing administrative callousness and obliging social institutions to treat a human individual as a living being, possessed of specific needs and feelings, and not as a statistical number. This right acquires considerable importance in the context of the development of computer systems and other automated systems of public service. Finally, the observance of the right to protection of human dignity should mean a prohibition of all actions which could degrade a human individual. This can assume the form of discriminatory practices which may deprive an individual of his sense of self-esteem and his equality in relation to other people. A human being cannot become a physically and morally incapacitated object. This is also of particular significance in the conditions of development of modern technology, which is utilized by a narrow group of people who are owners or users of that technology. This refers primarily to contemporary data-processing systems, systems of economic management, and so on.

The right of an individual to participate in a political system is, at present, included among basic human rights in literature on the subject in the East European countries. It can be summarized in a number of principles.10 First is the principle of general access to all information important for the formulation of political decisions. The main issue here is the elimination of private control over information resources and the prevention of manipulation of information through a monopoly of information which makes it impossible for individuals to take an active part in political life. Limitations on the free availability of information should be of an exceptional nature, e. g. where state defence is involved, and not be designed to prevent individuals from taking an active part in political life. The criteria for applying limitations to the free dissemination of information should be known to the public and their practical application should be controlled by democratic institutions.

Second, the right of an individual to participation in a political system should be reflected in the principle of freedom of expression in all its forms in regard to political attitudes, views, and interests. This should not be limited only to a formal or theoretical freedom but should also include actual facilities for expression, i.e. access to the material means which make it possible to voice specific views and attitudes.

Third is the principle of freedom of assembly and creation of political organizations, contributing to the effective exertion of influence by citizens on the political system and consequently to the more efficient functioning of that system. Without this an individual who is not a decision maker is deprived of the ability to make an impact on the political system.

Fourth is the principle of political power being of a representative character, opening up an opportunity for efficient control of the socio-economic policies of the state, information policy, etc. The observance of this principle is reflected in the norms defining the rules for creating and changing political power.

On the threshold of the 1990s the necessity of observing the human rights outlined above was declared by all socialist states of Eastern Europe. The first to do so were Poland, Hungary, and the Soviet Union, followed by Bulgaria, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Collective human rights such as the rights to employment, existential minimum, education, etc., which had been binding in these countries for more than 40 years, lost their importance to the benefit of individual human rights.

As a result of these changes, the countries of Eastern Europe faced the dilemma of whether to maintain the principles of their political system that had prevailed hitherto or to replace them with rights similar to those existing in the Western democracies. This dilemma became especially acute in Poland.

The special nature of the polish empirical approach to human rights

Poland is, on the one hand, a country in which over the last 40 years almost all the interrelations between human rights and technological development described above have operated and, on the other, a country displaying a much stronger ethos of individualistic and freedom-related values, expressed in a preference for individual human rights, than other East European states.

For Poland, as for other East European countries, the end of the Second World War meant the introduction of a new political and social order. In the field that concerns us here, it meant that primary importance should be accorded to the socialist-Soviet conception of rights and freedoms of citizens, which took precedence over human rights in the liberal sense. This meant first of all a preference for collective rights, satisfying existential needs over individual human rights.

However, the drive for more extensive political, national, and democratic rights became apparent in Poland earlier than in other East European countries. Nevertheless, only some of them were reflected in legal and institutional changes and even fewer were implemented in practice.

The striving of Poles for changes started with the 1956 crisis, which had two aspects. On the one hand, it accentuated the desire to gain broader political freedom, especially independence from the Soviet Union, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. On the other hand, it reflected the demand for fair implementation of the principles of Marxist-type socialism, particularly in regard to equal access to consumer goods and social services and more egalitarianism in income, including equal pay for equal work.

The 1970 crisis intensified these desires. The demands for Marxist-type socialism "without distortions," which would grant equal rights to all citizens, were of primary significance. However, at the same time new political and economic objectives emerged, especially those demanding a broader opening up to the world, a bridging of the gap separating Poland from world technological progress, the right to environmental protection, and greater unionist freedoms. During the 1980 crisis political objectives played the most important role, especially those concerning freedom of association and the creation of political organizations, rights to free trade unions, to participation by individuals in the political system, etc. It was during this crisis that the issue of individual human rights was clearly accentuated for the first time. During the same period, as in 1956 and 1970, demands were voiced for "purification" of Marxist-type socialism from deviations from its basic principles, especially that of egalitarianism.

Finally, during the 1989 crisis the demands of a social and egalitarian nature led to political demands. This time the proposal did not relate to an improvement in socialism, but to its replacement with a system analogous to those in the West European democracies. Consequently, individual human rights, including the right to an unpolluted environment, the right to personal security, the right of an individual to participation in political life, etc., were brought to the forefront and social-type demands lost their previous significance

Some of these demands found their reflection in amendments to the Constitution adopted by the Sejm and approved by the Senate on 1 January 1990. Some citizens' rights and freedoms identified with the "socialist socio-economic system" were declared null and void and replaced with individual human rights establishing the rule of law, freedom of association in the form of political parties, participation in local self-government, protection of property and rights to succession, freedom of economic activity irrespective of the form of ownership, etc.

However, some rights and freedoms regarded by Marxist-type socialism as basic human rights are still binding. These include the right to employment, the right of access to certain indispensable goods, e. g. food, clothing and shelter, and access to basic social services such as health and educational services. In practice the fulfilment of these rights encounters a number of limitations, or even becomes impossible, for several reasons. First of all, the deteriorating condition of the economy, falling national income, diminishing industrial and agricultural output, near-hyperinflation and the growing impoverishment of a considerable part of the society make access to basic goods and services. more and more difficult for an increasing number of people. At the same time, the shift in economic policy towards the free market and economic liberalism contributes to growing unemployment with its many negative consequences.

Moreover, the newly introduced human rights, typical of the liberal conception of such rights, encounter many obstacles in practice, such as a lower than expected level of political activity in society, as reflected in the moderate turnout in the 1989 elections. Other obstacles result from limited opportunities for environmental protection due to lack of resources for projects such as sewage treatment plants, and limitations in the introduction of technology that would contribute to the protection of human rights. (These factors result from the inadequacy of resources for the development of indigenous science and technology; at the same time increased imports of technology are impossible owing to foreign exchange restrictions.)

An interesting experiment in the field of human rights protection in Poland was the establishment on 1 January 1988 of the office of Commissioner for Civil Rights protection. From the formal legal point of view the office is a separate and fully independent state agency in terms of authority and organization. Although appointed by the Sejm, the Commissioner for Civil Rights protection acts in his own name and "on his own account."

The Commissioner is required (Article 1 of Law of 15 July 1987, Dz.U. No. 21 of 1987, item 123) to pretect human rights and freedoms and be satisfied that "as the result of action or failure to take action by agencies, organizations, and institutions obliged to observe fulfilment of those rights and freedoms, there has been no violation of the law as well as principles of community life and social justice." Not all violations of the law but only those concerning violation of individual human rights, i. e. rights and freedoms of an individual, are subject to intervention by the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection. Thus, the starting-point is the violation of rights, no matter if or how an objective law has been violated.11

In fact, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection can perform his duties efficiently in a legal system which precisely defines the rights of individuals and simultaneously protects the rights and freedoms of citizens at large. The notion of "rights and freedoms of citizons" is, from a normative point of view, narrower than the notion of "human rights." No wonder, then, that in the past 40-year period there has been no such office in the countries of Eastern Europe, where individual human rights were extremely limited. The office of the Polish Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection can, in view of that, be regarded in two ways: on the one hand, as an ostentatious institution whose role, in conditions of domination by collective citizens' rights and freedoms, would presumably be very limited, and, on the other hand, as an institution endowed with real authority as a result of the increased importance of individual human rights and rapid changes in the political system.

For these reasons the role of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection cannot be unequivocally defined. In the former system the law determined first of all the competence of authorities and granted them vast powers for making arbitrary decisions on various aspects of an individual's life. The former system defined the scope of the secured rights of an individual which were binding on the state administration in a very limited degree. This meant a virtual lack of regulations binding on the administration at the suit of an individual.

The changes which are being introduced to the political system in Poland cause far-reaching changes in the legal system, especially in the field of public law.12 The direct administrative role of the state is being limited to make way for legal conditions enabling the freer functioning of society and the economy while preserving the protective and supervisory functions of the state. The departure from the Marxist state model makes the position of economic entities more autonomous and brings their status close to that of a citizen, while the position of a citizen becomes stronger. He becomes, in law, a person, instead of being part of a collectivity called the "working classes."

However, the operative legal regulations in this field at the beginning of 1990 constitute a mixture of elements of West European legal culture and of pre-war Polish legal thought. Besides, the influence of the legal system of the socialist period is still remarkable. For all these reasons it is pragmatic considerations rather than solutions related to the system that determine the activities of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection.

In the years 1988-1989 the Commissioner attempted to intervene in cases of error made by public institutions as well as to contribute to changes in the law and in state and administrative practices in a direction beneficial to individual citizens. Generally, three levels can be distinguished in his activities hitherto.13

The first and most significant aspect impacting on everyday practice is at the level of intervention in individual cases, whenever difficulties in solving a problem result from a person's particular social status or position, or from an error by the state administration which disturbs its proper functioning. In this case the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection "unblocks" the system which was momentarily "blocked," and restores it to normal functioning.

The second level is based on an error arising from the system itself. The error lies either in a wrong, unjust "anti-citizen" legal regulation or in the practices of the state applied on a broader scale and not merely in individual cases. In such a case the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection points out the necessity to change laws or practices, using legal measures at his disposal. As in the situation described in the previous paragraph, however, the decision on changing an inappropriate law or practice does not depend solely on the Commissioner but also on the relevant public institution.

The final level has an educational aspect and purpose, and is reflected in publications, radio and television broadcasts, press articles, press conferences, etc., by the Commissioner. The principal object here is to reshape the legal culture in the deepest sense, so that, contrary to previous custom, people are presented to public institutions primarily as citizens. Such institutions, therefore, now have to change their perspectives.

The consciousness of citizens, formed in the period of Marxist socialism and oriented towards paternalism often expects a totally different kind of assistance from the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection. Their consciousness is determined by a belief according to which a man is always a "petitioner," a "subordinate" for whom the "authority," the state administration, can "arrange" a great deal if it "wants to." The administration, especially at higher levels, "does not know" that "harm is being done to a man," if it does not hear of reactions to decisions. In the belief of citizens the administrative "authority" of the state is not always benign. This is why it is only the higher authorities that can protect them from injustice in the last resort. For many Polish citizens this last resort is, or rather was to be, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection. This way of thinking about the Commissioner as the "highest office of complaints and postulates" was reiterated in numerous press articles and through other mass media and this led to a further distortion of the image and the actual and institutional abilities of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection.

Quite visible was the impact of collective human rights, articulated by Marxist socialism, especially in reference to the right to employment, the right of access to basic goods and social services, the right to health protection, the right to education, etc. The interpretation of these rights by citizens was not always compatible with the intentions of legislators: the right to employment was often interpreted as the right to a better, higher paid job. The right to basic goods was likewise interpreted as the right of access to, for example, a car, which was hardly available to the citizens at large, and the right to education as the right to university studies, even in situations where the number of applicants exceeded the number of places available. In the conditions of an economy in short supply - and the Polish economy has been like that for many years -the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection was treated as the highest resort authorized to "revise" decisions concerning the distribution of apartments, cars, and all other goods and services in short supply. This attitude distorted the concept of this institution from the very beginning.

In reality, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection, in accordance with the provisions of the law, does not "arrange" for anything, does not make any decisions, does not make determinations on anybody's rights.14 He only performs supervisory functions over public institutions and can only demand that agencies of state administration examine a question that has been put forward.

For these reasons the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection does not interfere with disputes among citizens, disputes among family members, neighbours, etc., as the participation of public institutions is not assumed in such cases. Besides, the Commissioner does not take the place of citizens in the task of protecting their rights themselves. He demands that they utilize all the avenues provided by law for the protection of their rights before addressing him. The Commissioner does not participate in the exertion of pressure on the authorities to make them adopt this or that attitude, e.g. whether to build or not to build a nuclear power station, if the issue can be solved in a different way in accordance with the provisions of the law.

The Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection does not act in favour of "justice" in its abstract sense, which is a concept seen by everyone in his own way, since he would get involved in disputes not over the law, but over interests, politics, etc., and would become subject to various pressures. Thus, he acts rather to level down "injustice" that he can sec is in violation of the constitutional principle of equality before the law.

In practice, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection is not obliged to take up all cases that are referred to him and actually disregards many of them, choosing from among these matters and enjoying considerable freedom of choice. Besides, in view of the vast number of cases (50,000 in 1988, and almost the same amount in 1989), it is only the principle of free choice that makes it possible for the Commissioner to perform the functions attached to his office. Otherwise, he would become overwhelmed with a massive volume of work, exceeding the capacities of his office. Apart from that, as the two years of experience indicate, the vast majority of cases directed to the Commissioner's office (some 80 per cent) are outside his competence and terms of reference. Nevertheless, an answer in writing is sent to everyone directing a case to the Commissioner's office, usually with an explanation of why it has been rejected.

Preliminary proceedings, to determine whether he is to fake up a case or not, are conducted by the Commissioner himself, sometimes with the assistance of other organs, e. g. the Public Prosecutor's Office. In some cases, however, such proceedings, are intended to explain a matter that has already been taken up. It may turn out that there has been no violation of human rights.

The measures adapted by the Commissioner for the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms are of either a persuasive or an initiating character. In the first case the Commissioner presents his view, and in the second he suggests that a solution be found by another, appropriate organ, although the solution does not need to satisfy the Commissioner. This is why, when the Commissioner addresses the Presidium of the Sejm or agencies of state administration, he always requires his addressees to adopt a position on the matter under reference. Sometimes the suggestions of the Commisioner are repeated many times. The difference between "initiating" and "persuasive" measures lies in the fact that the former give rise to formalized administrative, judicial, and other proceedings and often create new legal situation. Therefore, the Commissioner has much scope for "initiating" matters the settlement of which solves a general problem.

Among the more significant matters the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection has dealt with so far have been those concerning labour law and social security, economic issues (including charges and taxes, inequality of sectors), and issues involving medical care, education, issuance of passports, military service, housing, environmental protection, labour security, and trade union activities.

Owing to changes taking place in the political system that involve the replacement of collective citizens' rights with individual rights, the substantive contents of complaints received are undergoing changes, and some groups of complaints are much reduced. No one, for example, asks for assistance in applying for a passport, as passports have become available to all citizens.

For these reasons it should be noted that changes in the political system are accompanied by changes in the scope of the functions of the Polish Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection. His role becomes more and more appropriate for this kind of office and resembles more and more the role of similar offices in the Western democracies.15 The protective role of the Commissioner in relation to individual human rights gradually increases, whereas his role as a "supreme office of complaints and postulates" loses its importance.

The Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection is not the only institution for the protection of the rule of the law in Poland. The Supreme Administrative Court has been operating since 1980, the Tribunal of State was established in 1982, and the Constitutional Tribunal in 1985. Legal regulations concerning the office of the Commissioner are distinguished in the sphere of public law from those concerning the other institutions for legal protection named above, through the concentration of the former on individual rights. Whereas the Supreme Administrative Court, the Tribunal of State, and the Constitutional Tribunal examine legal acts and administrative decisions from the point of view of their consistency with the provisions of law, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection only becomes interested in a matter when a legal act, administrative decision, or other individual measure adopted by the state violates individual human rights. In other words, the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection acts not only on the principle of protection of the rule of the law - seen as consistency with objective law (binding provisions of the law) - but also on the principle of protection of rights of subjects.

Interaction between human rights and technological development in Poland

Theoretical Approach

The interrelationships between human rights and technological development can, from the theoretical point of view, be presented as in figure 1. According to this scheme the fundamental element is the political system. The content of human needs, human rights, and technological development is heavily dependent on the political system, and even as it varies those elements vary, leading to different levels of economic development. Thus, as shown earlier in this study, the hierarchy of human needs shaped by an authoritarian system differs from that shaped by a democratic one. In the first case, uniform fundamental needs are placed in the forefront, whereas in the second it is diversified higher needs that take precedence. Consequently, the human rights which are respected, or sometimes preferred, in authoritarian systems differ from those which are respected and preferred in democratic systems. In the first case it is collective citizens' rights, especially social rights, that receive emphasis and in the other it is the liberal rights of an individual.

Fig. 1.

In this context the political changes that are taking place at the moment in Eastern Europe are reflected in a preference for the liberal-democratic system. In some countries, for example Poland, this preference assumes an extreme form, i. e. lack of state control over private and social institutions, priority to private ownership over public ownership in the economy, etc. From this point of view the political changes being introduced in Poland could be compared with the programme of the British Conservative government.

The choice of a political system thus produces an impact on technological development, its pace and directions. Whenever an authoritarian political system is accompanied by an authoritarian economic system, technological development is an external phenomenon from the standpoint of the human being as an individual. In the case of democratic systems, technological development is, first of all, an activity determined by human beings as individuals.

In view of this, the impact exerted by technological development on the economy differs in each case. In the first case it is subordinated to the interests of the collectivity, the state, and fundamental human needs. In the second case technological development is determined by the rights of individuals and diversified human needs.

In the countries of Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, there has been a process of departure from a model of technological progress designed for the satisfaction of the fundamental needs of the majority of society, in favour of a model oriented more towards profit and imitation of the consumption patterns of a privileged minority in industrialized countries. This remains at variance with the still dominating egalitarian tendencies present in the societies of East European countries.

In the chain of interrelationships which determines technological progress, certain connections can be found between the economy and the political system. In the underdeveloped economies, especially in those introducing radical structural transformations aimed at speeding up development, there is a greater tendency towards adopting solutions close to those chosen by the East European countries after the Second World War, i. e. solutions oriented at satisfaction of basic needs, preference for collective citizens' rights, and treatment of technological development as an imposed phenomenon rather than one which is democratically adopted.16 On the other hand, a reverse process is taking place in the developed economies, where there are tendencies towards preference for diversified higher needs, involving liberalization of human rights and technological development as a result of the activity of individuals.

Fig. 2.

Taking a more dynamic approach to the interrelationships between human rights and technological development, following the principles outlined above, the results can be presented as in figure 2.17

According to this scheme, systemic principles, irrespective of whether they are introduced democratically in compliance with the will of society or are imposed autocratically by internal or external forces, initially determine human needs and, later, human rights. In turn, human rights determine technological development and, consequently, the directions of economic development.18

In the case where those relationships are linear, the shift of the economic system to a higher level exerts an impact on the economic system that cases the restraints on the diversity of human needs and the liberalization of human rights. Consequently, the restraints are eased on the initiation of a particular line of technological progress as an outcome of the activity of an individual.

To understand the nature of the above interdependencies it is necessary to distinguish between technological development in the form of a rising level of material technical devices, and technological development in the form of the growth of the technical abilities of people. In the first case, progress can have its source in the transfer or importation of technology from abroad. In the second, people's interest in technological development is an indispensable condition for development.

Technological development as a phenomenon arising from the rank and file of the population must be induced, stimulated, and appropriately guided. It is determined by the amount of knowledge - general, technical, organizational, and economic - at the people's disposal, by practical, technical, organizational, and economic abilities, by the human propensity to innovate, and by the technical means used by people.19

Guiding technological development is of particular importance, since otherwise it proceeds spontaneously and often turns against people. There is firm evidence of such antagonism nowadays, especially when rapid technological development takes place in the sphere of armaments, when it is in collision with ecology, etc.

Discussions on the issue of freedom of scientific research and the need for control in order to protect humanity from the adverse effects of technological development have continued for many years.20

In 1966 the right to freedom of scientific research assumed the form of a treaty norm in the provisions of Article 15, item 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of 16 December 1966, which makes panties to that Covenant obliged to "respect the freedom indispensable for scientific research and creative activity."

Cooperation between specialized organizations of the United Nations and extra-governmental scientific organizations resulted in the working out of "Recommendations Concerning Status of Scientific Workers," adopted by the Twenty-eighth General Conference of UNESCO in Resolution No. 40 of 20 November 1974. In this document, in the form of a recommendation to governments, it is stated, inter alia, that "national scientific policy should support creative activity of scientific workers, in strict observance of the autonomy and freedom of research indispensable for scientific progress." In item 14 of the resolution, under the caption citizens, and Ethical Aspects of Research," the contents and the scope of the right to freedom of scientific research have been concretized. According to that item it is the right and obligation of scientific workers to:

- work in the spirit of intellectual freedom in explainig and protecting scientific truth in the form they perceive it;

- contribute to specifying the objectives and tasks of the programmes they participate in and to specifying the methods to be adopted which should be humanistic and compatible with the requirements of social and ecological responsibility:

- express themselves freely about human, social and ecological values of projects and in extreme cases withdraw from them if such conduct is necessitated by their beliefs;

- contribute in a positive and constructive manner to the development of science, culture and education in their own countries as well as to the accomplishment of national goals, improved well-being of their fellow citizens and support of international ideals and the goals of the United Nations. Besides, member countries employing scientific workers should be precise in the most rigorous and concrete manner possible in cases in which they regard compliance with the above recommendations necessary.

In 1968, in the "Proclamation of Teheran" adopted at the International Human Rights Conference, it was stated that although the newest scientific discoveries and technological achievements opened up broad prospects for economic, social, and cultural progress, that progress could jeopardize human rights and individual freedoms. Following that, as a result of strenuous efforts made in the forum of the United Nations, the right to freedom of research has been given a new significance, as reflected in the compilation of a list of threats to human rights and freedoms posed by arbitrary and uncontrolled exercise of the right to freedom of scientific research. That list is being constantly supplemented.

The right to control the directions of scientific and technological advancement is a subject of discussion in the countries of Eastern Europe as well. On the one hand, they centre on control from the point of view of morality and security and, on the other, they constitute an attempt to find solutions that will reconcile the particular interests of scientific workers with the socio-economic development of society as well as with broadly perceived human rights and freedoms.

Freedom of scientific research is closely connected with methods of guiding technological development. The basic methods of such guidance can be broadly distinguished as administrative and market-oriented.

The administrative method of guiding technological development attempts to foster development as if "from above," making the development of chosen fields or the country as a whole dependent on its results. In this situation, state organs select and finance development projects. By its nature, technological development fostered in conditions of administrative guidance concentrates on chosen technologies. However, its adoption cannot be widespread, as such guidance is very expensive and one of its important techniques is the transplantation of technological development from outside.

Guidance through incentives and market-oriented methods provides a direct connection between individuals and collective bodies consuming the product and the enterprise producing it, and provides advantages to both groups. This kind of guidance is also able to diversify incentives by stimulating development in chosen fields preferred by the state for various reasons. However, the basic objective of market-oriented guidance is to make all participants in technological development interested in its fostering. This approach brings apparent results in societies which are advanced from the point of view of scientific progress. In such societies advanced scientific development and research enjoy access to modern technical means, and interest in innovations suggested by the rank and file becomes a common phenomenon.

Factors Influencing the International Position of Polish Technology

When evaluating Poland's international scientific-technological position it is necessary to distinguish between the level of science and the level of technology in the strict sense. In each of these two fields Poland's position is different.

In the field of pure science Poland is a country to be reckoned with.21 This refers especially to the basic sciences, like mathematics, physics, astronomy, and mechanics. In this field Polish scientists are at or very close to the forefront among world scientists.

As far as applied sciences such as electronics, computer science, automation, chemistry, etc., are concerned, the position of Polish scientists is far less satisfactory, since in this field what determines a country's position in worldwide terms is not only basic knowledge, but also the availability of suitable technical equipment that is indispensable for carrying out experiments stimulating development.

Poland's position in the world from the point of view of "strict sense" technology is also unfavourable. In the literature on the subject this aspect is determined by means of three kinds of indicators: the number of patents granted to domestic inventors and obtained by such inventors overseas; the number of licences purchased and sold worldwide, together with the expenditure and revenue involved; and the so-called weight prices, obtained in exports or paid in imports for 1 kg (or 1 ton) of technical appliances.22

The first indicator - the number of patents granted to Polish inventors - is quite positive for Poland, as she is ranked in this respect well above the world's average. In Poland the number of patents granted annually to domestic inventors is bigger, i.e. 3,532 in 1984, than in Switzerland (2,351), Sweden (1,693) or Canada (1,327). In the group of East European countries, Poland is placed behind the Soviet Union (62,743), the GDR (9,538), and Czechoslovakia (6,266). In the mid-1970s the share of patents granted in the world (1.6 per cent) was similar to Poland's world share of industrial output. At the same time, however, the number of patents obtained by Polish inventors abroad was insignificant (195). The number of patents granted by Poland to foreign applicants was not significantly higher either (653). The last two figures point to the fact that the technological level of Polish inventions had turned out to be relatively low and patents granted to Polish inventors often did not show the innovative dynamism of world leaders.

The balance of exports and imports of technology (the second indicator of a country's technological position in the world) is apparently unfavourable to Poland. Overall, in the years 1950-1985 Poland purchased only 637 licences, out of which as many as 418 were purchased in the 1970s, and only six in the years 1981-1985. At the same time, in the years 1950-1985 Poland sold 187 licences abroad, of which 103 were in the 1970s and 43 in the years 1981-1985. The average price of a licence imported amounted to 1.4 million dollars, and an ex ported licence 0.25 million dollars. Thus, the licence-related terms of trade amounted to some 0.18 and were highly unfavourable to Poland. (Advantages are achieved when the indicator's value exceeds one; with the lapse of time Poland's position suffered further deterioration as the indicator's value fell.)

The third factor characterizing Poland's technological position in the world - the so-called weight prices for industrial equipment containing a specified amount of technology - is not favourable to Poland either. In relation to highly industrialized countries, the weight prices obtained by Poland for exports of industrial equipment are considerably lower than prices paid for imports, and over the years this difference has even increased, to the disadvantage of Poland.

The most important factors determining Poland's international technological position include:

- the relatively low technological level at the starting-point;

- the conception of technological development adapted after the Second World War, which provided for industrialization based on imparted capital machinery and equipment, mainly from the Soviet Union;

- the particular approach to human rights that determined industrialization; and - the administrative methods used to guide technological development, being an outcome of a command economic system and authoritarian political system.

At present, Poland's unfavourable technological position in the world is also due, to some extent, to the lack of appropriate traditions. From the historical point of view Poland was (until the Second World War) a country whose economy was based on agriculture and raw materials, while industry was underdeveloped. The process of large-scale industrialization initiated after the war encountered a number of barriers, including not only the lack of engineers but also the lack of highly skilled workers with an advanced industrial culture and labour discipline. Most industrial workers turned out to be peasants who took to jobs in industry. However, their habits fell short, to a considerable extent, of the requirements of modern industry and were characterized by low discipline and culture of labour, alcohol abuse, difficulties in mastering new techniques, etc. Although over the years these drawbacks have been reduced, they have continued to be a serious disadvantage to Polish industry.

The education of well-qualified engineering and technical staff also faced many difficulties. The shortage of teaching personnel able to ensure an appropriate level of education in the numerous secondary vocational schools and establishments of higher technical education was especially acute. Foreign assistance in this field, especially in the form of the further training and education of teaching personnel in economically advanced countries, was not significant. Over the years the unfavourable difference in the level of training of engineering and technical staff in Poland compared with some other countries has been mitigated, but until now it has not been fully eliminated.

Of considerable importance for Poland's present technological position was also the concept of technological development adapted after the Second World

War. This was based on a preference for heavy and armaments industries, as well as the idea of establishing a centre for technological advancement in Eastern Europe independent of countries with a market economy. This approach was reflected, on the one hand, in tendencies towards autarky, and, on the other, in the limiting of scientific and technological cooperation almost exclusively to Eastern Europe.

In the period directly following the Second World War, the main source of scientific and technological progress in Poland was the Soviet Union, as well as the GDR and Czechoslovakia industrially and technologically the most advanced countries of the region. Poland obtained basic technologies from the Soviet Union. They were relatively obsolete as that country itself lagged behind leading countries in the world as regards levels of technology, especially in consumer goods industries.

Since the end of the 1960s, imports of technology from market economy countries have been growing, particularly from the FRG, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. These were more advanced and mainly concerned industries manufacturing consumer goods. the role of these industries in the Polish economy also gradually increased in importance.

The preference for technology imports from East European countries had an impact on the development of domestic technologies and affected imports of modern technologies from market economy countries and the training of Polish engineers and technicians in leading technological and scientific centres in the United States and other industrially advanced capitalist countries. Until the mid-1970s these centres were totally inaccessible to Poles. Since the mid-1970s the barriers limiting development of scientific-technological cooperation have been gradually diminished, although some of them have not been abolished until now.

A specific feature of Poland's technological position is her higher ranking in technologies which do not have a direct impact on the satisfaction of human needs than in technologies used directly by individuals. This is the result of the approach to human rights prevailing not only in Poland but also in other East European countries, in which concentration was first of all on technologies for heavy industry, engineering etc. These are, at the same time, labour-intensive technologies contributing to full employment, which is not easy to achieve in conditions of vast labour resources.

It was only in the 1970s that gradual changes in this field started to emerge. The policy in force hitherto of satisfying fundamental needs started to give way to efforts to satisfy more diversified needs and this required the application of completely different technologies from those used before. On the one hand, it involved modem technologies counteracting environmental damage, the harmful effects of production processes on human health, accidents at work, etc. On the other, it called for development of the output of consumer goods contributing to the satisfaction of both basic and higher needs This also involved Poland's quest for technologies outside Eastern Europe, i.e. in economically advanced countries. In the 1980s that orientation assumed the form of an official doctrine. In the 1990s that tendency is likely to be strengthened owing to political changes taking place in the liberal-democratic spirit and to the stress on individual human rights. At the same time it has been announced that mass closures of obsolete enterprises with outdated technologies will take place, especially in those sectors of the economy which are not directly involved in satisfying consumer needs.

The above changes have been accompanied by a modified approach to the guiding of technological development.

In the authoritarian system that existed almost until the end of the 1980s, the direction of technological development was set by the central authorities. The scope for enterprises to make decisions on their own technological profile was very limited. From the point of view of criteria that were then binding, a change of that situation was neither possible nor purposeful. It was impossible because the law did not provide for such a possibility; it was only the central authorities that were competent to take binding decisions, and these adhered to criteria other than current market incentives. It was not purposeful, either, because no market existed at that time. Thus, even if enterprises had had the right to act in accordance with market incentives, they would have been unable to do so as the lack of market infrastructure resulted in the unavailability of appropriate parameters to inform enterprises about the right directions for technological expansion.

Other institutions, like professional organizations, consumers' unions, scientific organizations, etc., could not make decisions on technological development either. They could only make applications in terms of their preference for this or that technology. However, the centre rarely yielded to such endeavours.

In the 1980s the process of decentralization of authority to settle directions of technological expansion was initiated in Poland . At the same time , however , no market was created and this presented serious difficulties and sometimes even made it impossible to set directions for technological development. Owing to the worsening economic crisis in Poland, the interests of manufacturing enterprises in technological development apparently diminished. This explains why the number of technologies imported and exported at that time was so small. Scarcity of financial resources had a significant impact on the suspension of work on new technological solutions in scientific organizations.

At the beginning of the 1990s Polish manufacturing and scientific-technological enterprises gained full legal and financial independence. The centre was deprived of its right to interfere with programmes of technological development in enterprises. At the same time efforts to create an appropriate market infrastructure were undertaken.

In other words, at this time there was a complete reversal of the situation existing in the past. The centre lost the right to decide on directions of technological progress, to the benefit of enterprises, whether manufacturing, scientific technological, or other. At the same time consumer, conservationist, and other organizations gained the right to veto decisions on technological development, and in many cases they actually made use of it.

This means that the situation in this field which arose in Poland at the beginning of the 1990s differs both from the previous state of affairs in Poland and from developments in the advanced economies, where the state sets certain directions for technological development , taking in to account the economy as a whole, especially in the long run. Market incentives are not regarded as the only basis of desirable scientific and technological progress.

Interrelationship between the basic character of human rights and development of traditional technologies

The notion of traditional technologies refers to means of reducing the share of man's manual work through technical appliances, especially mechanization and automation.23 Traditional technologies are characterized by their double impact on human rights. On the one hand, they can facilitate the fulfilment of certain rights, and on the other hand they can hamper the fulfilment of other rights.

Traditional technologies exert a positive impact on a number of human rights. First of all, they lead to the raising of the standard of living through more efficient production, improved labour conditions, and the creation of new and better-quality products. As a result of mechanization and automation, the structure and volume of employment undergo changes. It should be pointed out that the impact of mechanization is different from that of automation.

Mechanization reduces the demand for physically strong employees expected to contribute intensive physical labour. On the other hand, women gain broader access to jobs.24 At the same time, mechanization creates jobs for low-skilled workers, able to service a limited part of the production process. For that reason it exerts a positive impact on the fulfilment of human rights in countries with an underdeveloped industry and a surplus of unskilled labour. In highly industrialized countries with a small proportion of unskilled labour, mechanization can bring about problems.

Unlike mechanization, "automation usually leads to a decline in the demand for unskilled workers and is accompanied by regional shifts in the distribution of resources, obsolescence of skills, dislocation of the labour force and a need for retraining and similar adjustments." 25 Its impact on the situation in the field of human rights cannot be unequivocally determined since it is different in countries with labour shortages and in countries with an abundance of manpower. In the former, automation makes it possible to overcome the shortage of manpower by its redistribution and better utilization. By the same token it contributes to an increase in output, speeding up economic development and the growth of well-being. In countries with a surplus of manpower, automation leads to increased unemployment and thus, from the point of view of the right to work, it cannot be called an unequivocally positive phenomenon.

Both mechanization and automation also influence human rights other than the right to work. From the point of view of the individual worker, a common complaint is nervous tension brought about by the faster pace of work and lack of control over it, exposure to noise, the need for constant concentration and alertness on the job, and increased responsibility. Other frequent problems are boredom, which can result from the performance of monotonous, repetitive tasks, the injurious effect on professional pride of the decline of craft skills, and the feeling of isolation among a mass of machines. The physical adjustments the worker has to make to adapt to automated industry are also a source of stress. Workers have little, if any, physical exercise and lack the rhythm of muscular work associated with non-automated processes. Furthermore, because of the high cost of sophisticated modern machinery and the consequent need to maintain production on a round-the-clock basis, there has been an increase in shift work. Concern at the possible ill-effects of such work on sleeping and eating patterns and upon family and social life has been expressed.26 These developments bring about a number of new diseases as an outcome of industrialization, especially mechanization. They pose a serious threat, particularly for women and their children.

A major problem is environmental damage. Mechanization and automation play a leading part in this field. The deterioration of the human environment due to scientific and technological development has been a by-product. Until recently this was generally regarded as inevitable, in view of the interference with the environment which was necessary for the realization of the right of everyone to "a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family," as laid down in Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.27 The deterioration of the environment is a threat to the right to life, which is proclaimed in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The deterioration of the human environment reduces the enjoyment of life of millions, the right to which is implied in the reference to an adequate standard of living in Article 25 of the Declaration. A threat to health and even life is posed by the pollution of the air due to industrial activity, traffic, domestic heating, and other factors, as well as by excessive waste creation and inefficient waste disposal.

Industrialization, including mechanization and automation, creates a threat to the world food supply by erosion and other forms of soil deterioration, water pollution by domestic sewage, industrial wastes, drained-off chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and thermal pollution.

All those positive and negative effects of technological development on human rights find their reflection in reality in Poland. They can also be found in the experience of other countries of Eastern Europe. The analysis of this situation will be based on the examples of two industries, heavy and light.

Heavy Industry: The Nowa Huta Steel Factory

The example of the Nowa Huta steel factory indicates that traditional technologies can, to a large extent, be used for the fulfilment of citizens' rights involved in the satisfaction of basic needs, especially through the creation of conditions for fulfilment of the right to work and to an existential mininmum, as well as the right to education, science, culture, etc. At the same time, experiences with the steel factory have shown that traditional technologies can be at variance with the right to a healthy environment, the right to unspoiled nature, the right to maintain a traditional culture, etc.

The decision to build the steel factory was taken in 1948, not only on economic but also on political grounds. The idea behind it was to initiate large-scale industrialization in Poland, which was to prove the superiority of a centrally planned economic system over the market economy. The Nowa Huta steel factory was to be the major investment project in this process. Thus this project was treated as a symbol of the new order.

The background to the decision on the factory's location was also, to a considerable extent, political. Its location in the outskirts of a big city, Cracow, the traditional cultural centre of Poland, dominated by a conservative middle class lacking in enthusiasm for new solutions, was aimed at changing the social structure of the region through a considerable increase in the role of workers, who were expected to provide political support for the new system. Another argument for the choice of that location was the large number of new jobs to be offered by the factory, particularly for peasants from nearby villages who were seeking employment. The reserves of employable labour in the region were estimated at 250,000.

Economic arguments for the location of the steel factory near Cracow included, first of all, a favourable ground configuration and directly accessible water from Poland's longest river, the Vistula. Of real importance was also the proximity of basic raw materials for the steel industry, like power coal and coking coal, a dense railway network in the region, and vast scientific and research facilities in Cracow specializing in problems of metallurgy, in particular the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy and the Engineering College of Cracow.

The construction of the steel factory began in April 1950 and its first furnace was put into operation in 1954. The productive capacity planned initially, 1.5 million tons of steel annually, was reached in 1960. In the following years this capacity increased many times. The final effect of the project has been a huge combine manufacturing, at present almost four times as much steel as was assumed in initial plans (5.5 million tons per year), which is only half of its total output. The other half is accounted for by steel products.

The Nowa Huta steel factory is a classical example of industrial development being determined on the principles of the authoritarian system. This is well reflected both in the way in which the decisions on construction and location of the steel factory were taken and in the sources of technological development. This is seen also in the approach to human rights. Collective citizens' rights based on satisfaction of fundamental social needs were given priority.

The steel factory exerted a positive influence on overcoming unemployment and raising living standards in the area near Cracow. This was achieved not only through the creation of jobs for the 30,000 workers who were directly employed in the factory, thus enabling them to improve their living standards, but also through the provision of tens of thousands of jobs for people linked indirectly with the steel factory. They received their apartments either free of charge or for a considerably reduced price, as members of house-building cooperatives. The total number of apartments built amounted to more than 60,000. This meant a huge improvement of living standards for the majority of the factory's employees, who either used to live in the country or came from very poor city families with particularly difficult housing conditions. All apartments built in Nowa Huta were provided with hot water and gas facilities, bathrooms, central heating, etc. Thus, from the point of view of material advancement, they reached a satisfactory level.

The level of education of the steel factory's employees naturally exerts an influence on human rights. Employees with higher education account for 6.6 per cent of the total number of employees, of whom 1,500 have engineering diplomas and 500 diplomas in economics. The proportion of employees with secondary education is 18.6 per cent (7,500). Almost 37 per cent of employees have vocational education (more than 11,000). The rest (33 per cent) have completed their elementary education. Thus, in the steel factory there are no illiterate workers or employees with incomplete elementary education. This marks a huge advance in comparison with the period in which the factory was in the initial stage of its operation and mainly employed uneducated inhabitants from nearby villages.

Thanks to the resources possessed by the steel factory, Nowa Huta (as a city) has been provided with a developed social and cultural-educational infrastructure. The city has some 50 nursery schools for 6,000 children, and about 40 primary schools for 27,000 pupils. In addition, there are seven secondary schools with facilities for more than 3,000 pupils. The city of Nowa Huta has also a theatre, five cinemas, 23 libraries, 786 shops and 74 bars and restaurants. Thus, this medium-sized city performs an important role not only in Cracow but also in Poland as a whole.

The factory accounts for some 40 per cent of domestic output of pig-iron and for 30 per cent of raw steel and hot-rolled steel. The structure of its output differs only slightly from that of similar steel works in industrialized countries. From the point of view of technology, the steel factory represents an average level by world standards. Apart from Soviet-made equipment, it has been equipped with appliances made in Japan, France, Austria, and other economically advanced countries. On the other hand, the share of Polish technology is small, thus supporting the claim that external sources of technological development prevailed in this system.

The kind of technologies applied and the manner of their utilization brought about a number of negative side-efects. Decisions on location of the factory ignored the fact that the land on which it was to be built had for a long time been utilized for growing vegetables and fruit for Cracow because it had the most fertile soils in the region. They also ignored possible environmental damage caused by the location of that kind of technology, including threats faced by Cracow, a valued centre of old culture. This resulted, first of all, from features of the authoritarian system, which can take advantage of the dominant position of the centre and ignore factors contradicting the direction of technological development that is, in its belief, desirable. Secondly, at that time, both in Poland and in the rest of the world, there was no awareness of threats to the natural environment resulting from the use of traditional technologies on such a massive scale, nor were there any social movements opposed to that type of technological development. Thirdly, the approach to human rights that was officially binding prioritized the satisfaction of fundamental needs and the fulfilment of collective social rights such as the rights to work , to an existential mini mum , to education, to culture, etc., with no regard for rights that at present perform a major role.

In relation to the right to an unpolluted natural environment , Now a Huta is unfortunately a negative textbook example, resulting from completely wrong decisions with regard not only to the location of the factory but also, primarily, to the way in which the technologies were applied. The manufacturer of these technologies did not take into consideration the need for environmental protection. Such installations as coke oven batteries (14), iron blast-furnaces (5), and steelworks (12), all imparted from the Soviet Union, initially lacked dust-collection plants. These were installed over the years, and in a number of cases fell short of actual requirements owing to their high cost, as almost all of them had to be imported from highly industrialized countries. Similar remarks apply to appliances to reduce emissions of toxic gases and the discharge of pollutants into the Vistula river.

Each year the emissions of particulate matter into the atmosphere amount to some 50,000 tons, accounting for 50 per cent of all particulate emissions in the region. The situation is also highly unfavourable as far as toxic gas emissions are concerned, since as much as 80 per cent of all gas pollutants originating in this region are discharged by the steel factory.

The extent of damage done by the factory to the waters of the Vistula is smaller, thanks to two sewage treatment plants built in the 1980s. However, the consumption of the Vistula river waters by the steel factory still amounts to three cubic metres per second, and the discharge of sewage into the river amounts to some 200 million cubic metres per year, i.e. 25 per cent of the sewage of the entire region.

Apart from that, the Nowa Huta steel factory is the source of huge amounts of solid wastes, some 4 million tons per year, accounting for more than 70 per cent of solid wastes in the region. Only three-fourths of this amount are subject to recycling, and the rest adds to the area of dumping sites.

Total outlays channelled by the factory to the protection of the natural environment are not considerable and at present account for 4 per cent of its production costs. However, the costs of environmental protection are to increase substantially in the near future, as at present almost 30 per cent of all investment outlays are devoted to this end. Nevertheless, actual requirements in this field will be met only by the investment of 40 per cent of investment outlays.

Generally speaking, it is Cracow and its historic buildings that suffer most from this state of affairs. According to estimates, environmental pollution caused by the steel factory speeds up by four times the process of deterioration of Cracow's historical buildings as compared with the deterioration that takes place in normal conditions. Renovation of houses in Cracow is necessary every five years instead of every 20 years. The incidence of diseases of the respiratory system in the population of Cracow is growing at a remarkable pace. Also high is the percentage of employees of the steel factory who are unable to work on account of poor health caused by bad working conditions.

Due to far-reaching systemic changes that have been taking place since mid-1989, the activities of the steel factory, especially their impact on human rights, have given rise to widespread social criticism. On account of the radical change in the approach to human rights, reflected in the replacement of the doctrine of citizens' rights with the doctrine of the liberal rights of an individual, assessments of the impact of the steel factory on human rights are changing. Traditionally the emphasis was on perceived positive rights, such as the right to work, to an existential minimum, to education and to culture. This has now yielded to an emphasis on the negative influence of the factory on such rights as those to an unpolluted natural environment, and to a "standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food. "

For this reason, the steel factory has intensified its participation in measures to counteract the adverse effects of its activities, through its contribution to the fund for the rehabilitation of Cracow 's historical buildings and the fund for the protection of the health of Cracow's population, as well as to other funds supporting house-building, culture, education, social welfare, etc.

Fundamental systemic changes taking place both in Poland and in other countries in Eastern Europe have brought about radical transformations in the evaluation of the impact exerted by traditional technologies on human rights. This evaluation is based less on economic and social criteria than on political ones. This finds its reflection in deep constitutional and systemic changes. In many cases the new legislation takes an even more radical attitude towards traditional technologies than is the case in highly industrialized countries, and is therefore at variance with the economic abilities of East European countries to replace traditional technologies with modern ones.

These changes are reflected in the new legislation, administrative regulations, licensing methods, and science policies, including policies governing the introduction of new technologies, economic policies, employment policies, etc. The changes introduced into the economic system tolerate the existence of unemployment, limit the scope of the so-called welfare policy of the state, and impose full charges for services (including rent).

As a result of the changes outlined above the steel factory became independent, self-governing, and self-financing. Of the two alternatives faced by the factory, i. e. introduction of quick and radical technological modernization or putting an end to production, the latter seems to be increasingly preferred. The factory's production of metallurgical materials is being curtailed and materials from other ironworks are supplied to the processing departments of the steel factory. At the same time a programme for substantial modernizations of the processing departments of the steel factory has been worked out.

Lack of means for financing these changes is the basic difficulty in solving the problem. Domestic scientific and research centres specializing in metallurgical technology are unable to meet the requirements of the factory with regard to scientific and technological progress. This is why imports of necessary equipment are indispensable. The constant decline in the efficiency of the steel factory due, inter alia , to growing outlays for environmental protection an d participation in financing projects realized in Cracow, as well as the increasing cutbacks in production, makes it impossible to finance the modernizations programme from the factory's own resources.

This puts the steel factory in a very difficult situation. On the one hand it is criticized by conservationist movements, admirers of Cracow's old architecture, and inhabitants of Cracow, and on the other by the employees of the factory itself.

The latter are in the forefront in demanding the replacement of the remnants of the totalitarian system with a democratic one guaranteeing both citizens' rights (in the traditional sense), including the rights to work, to an existential minimum, to education, to culture, etc., and individual rights (in the liberal sense), including the rights to active participation in political life, to participation in managing the steel factory, to access to information, to freedom of association, etc. The difficulties involved in the simultaneous fulfilment of all these demands have given rise to additional difficulties in the operation of the steel factory, created conflicts between its employees and the administration, and exerted a negative impact on the factory's finances, leading to a decline in its efficiency and a decrease in its output.

This is not without its influence on the whole of the Polish economy, as the steel factory supplies its products to some 15,000 Polish enterprises, and 10 per cent of its output is sold abroad on a permanent basis. Thus, economic reasons make the closure of the steel factory impossible, as this would have a devastating effect on the Polish economy.

In conclusion it should be pointed out that the quick transformation of the system existing hitherto into a democratic one, and the change of approach to human rights that this involves, cannot be accompanied by equally quick technological change. This is impossible for economic reasons.

In the early stage of Poland's industrialization, traditional technologies performed a positive role from the point of view of the satisfaction of fundamental needs and the human rights involved. However, from a long-term viewpoint such an approach has proved insufficient, as other human rights must be taken into account as well, including the right to an unpolluted natural environment. The opinions expressed by workers employed in the steel factory show that they value the broad rights brought about by the democratic system more highly than the satisfaction of fundamental needs and rights secured for them by the steel factory.28

Light Industry: The Textile Industry in Lódz

Another example of the interconnection existing in practice between human rights and traditional technology is provided by the textile industry in Lódz, which deals with the production and processing of textile raw materials.

A characteristic feature of the technologies applied in this industry is their relatively high labour intensity (in comparison with other branches of industry). For these reasons, the textile industry in Poland has been located in the regions which traditionally had an abundance of low-skilled labour, mainly female.

The genesis of the industrial centre in Lódz differs substantially from that of the Nowa Huta steel factory. The former was set up much earlier and its development was considerably slower than that of the steel industry centre near Cracow. Development was at its peak in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. At that time a number of production plants representing relatively primitive technologies were opened. The second period of quick development, coupled with modernization as reflected in the automation of manufacturing processes in some enterprises, occurred in the 1970s. The 1980s marked a period of adjustment of technologies to the needs of environmental protection, which to a major degree involved factory closures or the stopping of certain manufacturing processes.

At present, the textile industry in the Lódz region accounts for one-third of domestic textile production , which equals the share of the Nowa Huta steel factory in heavy industrial output. At the same time, employment in the textile industry in the region amounts to some 90,000, which is three times as many as at Nowa Huta. The productivity of textiles is substantially lower than that of the metallurgical combine analysed earlier, the scope for automation in textile factories is very small and their mechanization is incomplete. At the same time, wages in the textile industry are among the lowest in Poland (ranking second from bottom), in sharp contrast to the wages of the Nowa Huta workers, which place them among the highest in the country.

Thus, as far as the right to work is concerned, the textile industry contributes more to its fulfillment, providing employment opportunities for a greater number of people, than does the steel industry. However, because of much lower wages, the right to an existential minimum is fulfilled to a lesser extent.

Under the conditions of the authoritarian system, textile industry enterprises provided, as did the entire state sector, for their employees through the state system of social welfare, subsidized infant nurseries and nursery schools, holidays free of charge or at reduced rates, sanatoria, etc. Finally, employment in that branch of industry facilitated access to an apartment of one's own (also subsidized by the state), free medical care, etc.

At the same time, employment in the textile industry involves many inconveniences and adverse effects. First of all, this is multi-shift work involving night work; it therefore presents serious drawbacks for female workers, who constitute the majority of employees, as it makes caring for children difficult, upsets the harmony of family life, and has an adverse effect on women's health.

Further, the technological processes taking place in the industry are harmful for its employees, since they involve the emission of a number of toxic substances hazardous to health. Emissions of toxic gases occur particularly in the so-called bleacheries (carbon monoxide, chlorine, ammonia) and dye-houses (hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, sulphuric acid, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide), and, to a lesser extent, at other stages of production. Spinning mills and weaving plants discharge dust and are a source of noise that is harmful to health. According to estimates, almost one-third of textile industry workers work in conditions hazardous to health. No wonder, then, that the incidence of disease in this branch of industry is very high. The most frequent discuses include respiratory system disorders (emphysema), bronchitis, allergies and inflammations, ear diseases (including complete deafness), and cancers. Women suffer from premature ageing, osseous system diseases, varicose veins, etc.

Traditional technologies also add to the high percentage of industrial accidents. The textile industry is much more dangerous than other industries that apply a higher proportion of modern technologies. This is due, first of all, to the obsolete character of the technologies employed and the considerable extent of wear and tear of the machinery used. Working surroundings also contribute to accidents (high concentration of chemical substances, dust, noise, pace of working imposed by the machinery, monotony of work, considerable manual effort, etc.).

All the above disadvantages are incentives to technological development in this branch of industry. Unlike the Nowa Huta steel factory, where the modernization of technological processes took place mainly through the purchase of modern equipment abroad, the textile industry involves a considerable amount of autonomous technological development generated in indigenous scientific and research centres. Poland is an exporter of some types of advanced machines for the textile industry.

Broadly speaking, there are three basic incentives for technological development in the textile industry.

The main incentive is a desire to reduce the harmful effects of working in the industry. This finds expression in the introduction of equipment for pollution abatement and dust removal in production departments, for noise abatement, for the maintenance of desirable microclimatic parameters, etc. This type of technological development usually contributes to the improvement of traditional technologies.

The second incentive is a desire to replace manual work by automated machines. Such improvements usually take place within the framework of traditional technologies, since the technological processes remain the same. It finds its reflection in, for example, the automation of chemical processes that cause emissions of many gases harmful to health.

The third incentive is the necessity of changing technological processes by replacing them with more advanced ones, for reasons such as the difficulty of eliminating the side-effects of processes harmful to health, or new requirements with respect to the external environment, like the elimination of threats to the natural environment or to nearby residential districts. Current technological progress in other parts of the world is also of significance, since it exerts considerable influence on the work of domestic contributors to technological development.

The process of modernization of the textile industry has been accompanied by cutbacks in production that is especially harmful to employees' health or to the environment. This refers both to the entire textile industry and to particular enterprises. A good example of this is provided by the Anilana Chemical Fibres Works in Lódz where the structure and technology of production were changed many times. In spite of substances harmful to human health that originated in the process of production, the employees of this factory have avoided the occupational diseases typical of this branch of industry thanks to the automation of the production process, efficient ventilation, and protective clothing. On the other hand, the adverse effects which Anilana has on the natural environment in Lódz - dust and gases discharged into the atmosphere - have not been eliminated. Inhabitants of the nearby residential districts suffer from respiratory and nervous diseases, which has led to demands from them to limit production or even to close the Anilana works completely.

Interrelationship between human rights and advanced technologies

The notion of advanced technologies refers here both to technical appliances and to methods of their usage, leading to the replacement not only of manual work but also of the mental work of man. In this sense, an example of advanced technology is electronic communication techniques.29 These, like traditional technologies, have a double impact on human rights. On the one hand they may contribute to the fulfilment of certain rights, and on the other they may simultaneously hamper the fulfilment of other rights. This relationship can also be inverse, with some human rights speeding up the introduction of advanced technologies and others making the adoption of such technologies impossible.

Advanced technologies exert a positive influence on labour productivity, the improvement of quality, and other modern features of production. They eliminate a whole range of adverse side-effects of mechanization and automation, such as noise, air pollution with chemical substances, dust, etc. In countries suffering from a shortage of trained labour, advanced technologies make it possible to overcome this barrier.

Advanced technologies completely change the position of man in the process of his interaction with nature. His role in some ways becomes more and more superior, and in others increasingly subservient. Superiority comes from his increased power over nature and subservience from his increasing dependence on the technology.

Production of Electric Power by Nuclear Fission

The technologies involved in the production of electric power by nuclear fission can certainly be referred to as advanced. They have led to an almost complete elimination of manual work and a limitation of mental work through the use of robots, computers, and other modern appliances. These technologies are very efficient. They can be installed far from the sources of raw material, and they do not produce dusts or chemical substances as by-products. They are also silent and sterile. However, in the case of equipment failure, they can lead to ecological disasters that cannot be averted by man and the aftermath of which is long-lasting and poses a threat to large populations in far-away regions.

This is why nuclear power stations give rise to controversy. An example is the public debate on the future of nuclear power engineering, which has been going on in Poland since the middle of 1989. Although decisions on the development of nuclear power engineering were taken earlier, the change in the political system, involving a different approach to human rights, has aroused broad social resistance to these decisions.

The proponents of nuclear power engineering especially atomic physicists, express the opinion that it offers a better method of electric power generation than that provided by thermal power stations burning coal.30 In Poland, suffering from acute shortage of electric power, and virtually deprived of other possibilities for generating electric power (apart from power engineering based on coal), nuclear power engineering should, according to this opinion, command a special interest. Nevertheless, human rights in a liberal sense form a barrier to that interest.

The proponents of nuclear power engineering argue that for economic reasons electric power generation in nuclear power stations is much more worth while than in coal-burning power stations. A yet more serious reason for the replacement of coal-burning power plants with nuclear power stations is, according to them, environmental pollution, as power engineering based on coal causes much more pollution than nuclear power engineering does. In Poland, for instance, coal-based power engineering contributes to the discharge of some 50 per cent of all particulate matter and some 70 per cent of sulphur dioxide.

At the same time, coal-based power engineering discharges into the natural environment such substances as uranium, radium, thorium and their derivatives, increasing by three times the risk of cancer as compared with nuclear power engineering. A properly operated nuclear power plant is a source of very slight radiation affecting people living in its surroundings and insignificant radiation affecting employees at various stages of the production cycle.31 In the case of populations living near the power plant, the doses of radiation are millions of times lower than those required to cause detectable effects. In the case of power-station employees, the difference is of the order of hundreds and thousands of times. Thus, this kind of threat does not have to be taken into account. On the other hand, the aftermath of accidents, even at low doses of radiation, must be considered. According to the opinion expressed by Julian Liniecki, a UN expert on Research into the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), these risks are quite insignificant, taking into account 434 nuclear reactors in operation in 1988, generating 318 thousand MW of electric power, and the number of accidents that have occurred in those power stations so far, in comparison with other risks faced by every society.

The risks posed by nuclear wastes dumped by nuclear power plants are, according to the proponents of nuclear power engineering, 200,000 times lower than those entailed in coal-based power engineering. This proportion is not considerably altered by equipment for reducing the amount of sulphur and nitrogen pollutants discharged into the atmosphere. Even if the efficiency of that equipment amounted to 90 per cent, the remaining 10 per cent of pollutants would be more dangerous than pollution caused by nuclear power stations.

Thus, in the opinion of the experts mentioned above, the comparison of the harmful effects of nuclear and coal-based electric power generation on health and the environment justifies the claim that the nuclear process, at the present technological level, represents an incomparably lower risk for human life and health. Besides, it does not bring about, even to a limited extent, the environmental damage typical of coal-based power engineering.

At present 235 nuclear reactors are in operation in Europe, accounting for 70 per cent of the total electric energy output in France, 66 per cent in Belgium, and 47 per cent in Sweden. At the same time 97 other nuclear reactors are under construction, of which 26 are in the Soviet Union and eight in France.

Poland is one of the few countries in Europe without nuclear power engineering. Apart from Poland, this group includes Albania, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Norway, and Portugal. It should be remembered that Poland is surrounded on all sides by countries with many nuclear power stations in operation on their territories. In the Soviet Union there are as many as 53, as well as eight in Czechoslovakia and five in the eastern part of Germany . At the same time, eight other nuclear power stations are under construction in Czechoslovakia and six in the east of Germany. New nuclear power stations are also being constructed on the eastern side of the Polish border, in the Ukraine and Byelorussia.

The proponents of nuclear power engineering claim that in this situation, taking into account even a slight possibility of a threat caused by a technical failure, this would most probably take place on the territory of one of the neighbouring countries, where the number of nuclear power stations in operation is already considerable (several dozens) and where another dozen or so new plants are under construction. In view of the fact that the distances separating Poland from her neighbours are small, she would suffer a great deal from a nuclear accident.

However, all these arguments are not convincing to the Polish opponents of the plans to construct nuclear power stations. They place in the forefront two fundamental human rights: the right to life and the right to a healthy environment. The action undertaken by the Polish opponents of nuclear power engineering successfully blocked the implementation of several investment projects of this kind in Zarnowiec, Klempicz, Miedzyrzecz, and Karolewo. It should be added that the construction of the Zarnowiec nuclear power plant was suspended at the last stage of implementation of the project.32

What are the reasons for the public attitude in Poland towards this issue?

First and foremost is the complete change of approach to human rights that took place at the end of 1989 and the beginning of 1990, expressed in terms of the replacement of the collective needs of society as a whole with the rights of an individual in the liberal sense. Owing to the fact that all decisions on the construction of nuclear power stations in Poland were taken in the period when human rights were identified with the collectively perceived social rights of citizens as seen by an authoritarian government, it is suspected at present that these decisions were taken on an incorrect basis, without respect for the interests of local communities and without safety guarantees, both at the regional and the national level.

According to this argument, technological decisions were political decisions, and experts were used only to justify politicians' orders. Lack of any kind of opposition hampered the development of adversarial mechanisms and procedures constituting the basis of social dialogue on important issues and choices in the field of technology. Restrictions on information, affecting not only citizens and journalists but also experts, and strict censorship made it possible for the politicians of the time to manipulate information. Public discussions on nuclear power engineering were not allowed, except for discussions among experts forming the atomic lobby.

The second reason for social resistance to nuclear power stations is the low technical culture of society. In the process of technical education available in Poland hitherto, scope for objective evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of technological development, including nuclear power engineering, was too narrow. It is also for this reason that groups in society which influence social opinion are unable to make an objective assessment of the positive and negative aspects of the development of nuclear power engineering. Positive opinions formulated by experts on nuclear power engineering are suspected of lacking objectivity and/or falsifying reality.

In this process an important part is played by the mass media in attempting to win the support of public opinion and questioning the truthfulness of experts. For instance, the Morze monthly33 quoted an opinion of an "expert," who said that construction of the Zarnowiec nuclear power station would have increased the cancer mortality in that region by 200 per cent. According to the opinion of Julian Liniecki already quoted, this falsified the actual position by 100,000 times. The impact of such information on public opinion is apparent, causing as it did increased hysteria in opponents of nuclear power engineering. There are numerous examples of such opinions presented in the Polish press. The purveyors of such information, often representing skimpy knowledge and low technical culture, react spontaneously and sometimes harshly to the construction of nuclear power stations, taking no account of arguments provided by experts in the field of nuclear power engineering and opinions voiced by internationally distinguished authorities.

The third and most serious cause of the negative attitude of Polish public opinion towards the construction of nuclear power stations is the Chernobyl disaster. This disaster has proved that one serious accident can completely ruin all the advantageous effects , whether economic, environ mental or social, of nuclear power engineering. This was the first time that the truth about the dangers involved in the development of nuclear power engineering penetrated public opinion so deeply. The Chernobyl disaster was bound to strengthen the negative attitude of public opinion towards the development of nuclear power engineering, not only in Europe but also in the world generally.34

For these reasons social attitudes towards traditional and advanced technologies are different. The former do not give rise to strong social emotions, although in everyday practice they may be much more hazardous to human health and life, e. g. coal-based power engineering. In contrast, advanced technologies are treated with great caution. It is also of significance here that man is completely helpless in the face of, for example, an accident in a nuclear power station which can in the long run pose a threat to people not directly involved with the power station. An accident in a conventional power station affects only people having direct contact with it. It is like a car accident- except for those directly involved in it, the rest are safe.

The negative attitude of Polish public opinion towards nuclear power arises also from the fact that the technology for the construction of nuclear reactors comes from the Soviet Union, i.e. the country in which the Chernobyl disaster took place. Opponents of nuclear power engineering in Poland remain silent over the fact that the reactor in Chernobyl was of a completely different type to those built in Europe and intended for operation in Poland. Polish public opinion remains mistrustful, no matter what arguments are put forward.

The opponents of nuclear power give priority to - and are right in doing so - the need to reduce the energy-intensity of the Polish economy, the elimination of en route losses of electric energy, the use of equipment for eliminating the adverse effects of coal-based power engineering on the natural environment, and the development of other kinds of power stations (gas-burning, hydroelectric), etc. Reluctant to admit arguments relevant to the subject, they emphasize their right to participate in the making of important choices concerning technology. In their view society should have the decisive say in the matter of choosing advanced technologies which are especially dangerous to health. It should have unlimited access to information on technologies being chosen, possible alternatives, and the possibilities of other non-technical solutions. In this connection society should be extensively informed about economic, ecological, social, and other costs, including the costs of alternative solutions. Decisions taken on the choice of advanced technologies should be preceded by discussions among proponents of various solutions. In this way society should influence the choice of technology. The stance of various groups in society should be represented by independent experts who exert influence on the making of technological decisions.

Some adherents of liberal human rights go even further, demanding the right to control research and development and investment and operational processes. In their opinion, the location of advanced technologies must not be chosen without the consent of local communities; if those communities veto it, the project should not go ahead. Such an opinion should be binding even if arguments put forward by the local community are based on wrong assumptions. Representative institutions and citizens' representatives should respect their decisions and preferences without exception.

Opinion polls carried out among local communities in Poland concerning the location of nuclear power stations confirm the negative attitude of these communities towards nuclear power engineering. According to J. Kaminski, who carried out an opinion poll among the inhabitants of territories close to the location site of a nuclear power station in Klempicz, as many as 53 per cent of respondents declared themselves against the development of nuclear power stations in Poland, 62 per cent were against locating the power station on their territory, and 89 per cent demanded participation in the decision-making process on nuclear power stations. More than 92 per cent of those polled were convinced that there were risks involved with the operation of such stations; 76 per cent assessed this risk as high. In the opinion of 56 per cent of respondents, every nuclear power station had an adverse effect on the population's health.35

In the light of the results of this poll, the future for nuclear power engineering in Poland looks bleak if liberally perceived human rights are to be fully observed. In 1990 the Polish government renounced the development of nuclear power engineering in Poland. The construction of the most advanced Zarnowiec nuclear power station was stopped. The fate of other advanced technologies is also uncertain.36

Electronic Communication Techniques

The idea of "electronic communication techniques" covers any transfer of information from one place to another by electronic means. It includes the transfer of the printed world and pictures, as well as the transfer of live auditory or visual messages, and the capture and storage of such information on audio or video tapes or by other means for future electronic transmission or retrieval.37

The impact of this technology on human rights is manifested in several fields, first of all in the field of access to information by marriage of computers and communications. The combination of those two kinds of advanced technologies initiated a genuine revolution in the field of in formation , enabling the owners of computers connected through wires, cables, microwave radio waves, or earth satellites to data banks to obtain immediately all the needed information, even in the most remote place in the world. This gives them an unquestioned advantage over those who do not have access to such technologies.

By the same token, the combination of computers and communications opens up vast possibilities for subordinating people, enslaving their minds, and influencing their political views and public behaviour on the part of those holding a monopolistic position in deriving and transmitting information. This leads to the violation of human rights in many fields, especially the right of access to objective information.

Finally, the combination of computers and communications enhances the technological advantage of countries in possession of these technologies and of the facilities for their manufacture over countries without access to them. This has an adverse impact on the development opportunities of the latter.

The foregoing means that electronic communication techniques may, on the one hand, positively affect human rights, and, on the other, may simultaneously violate these rights. For instance, violation of the right of free access to information is incompatible with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Control over computer communications may in some situations have a bearing on the rights of people to self-determination, as enumerated in Article 1 of the International Covenants.

In Poland the situation in the field of electronic communication techniques is diversified. It differs substantially in reference to computers and communications. It should be pointed out that the barrier to their development is placed not by human rights but by economic possibilities.

This can be seen, first of all, in private imports of computers to Poland. Some 65 per cent of all personal computers and 35 per cent of professional computers operated in Poland come from private tourist imports. As regards the number of computers in use, Poland occupies a leading position among European countries and the first position in Eastern Europe. The total number of PC type computers operated in Poland exceeds 1.5 million.38 At the same time there are many computer centres using large computers manufactured by IBM, ICL, and the like. In this field Poland has become a special centre of modern technology in Eastern Europe. Microcomputers manufactured in the United States, Japan, the newly industrialized countries, and Western Europe are re-exported from Poland to the Soviet Union.39 Computer exhibitions and fairs, the largest in Eastern Europe, are staged in Poland with the participation of representatives of the biggest producers in the world. It is also here that the newest designs in this field are sold.

Unfortunately, Poland has so far been unable to exploit its advantage over other East European countries in the field of computerization. Private owners of computers often use them for purposes having little to do with computerization. They are little utilized in economic activity programming. To a very small extent they are used to gather, process, and transmit information. Thus, unlike in Western countries, where computers constitute parts of an information system, in Poland they are used independently by their owners.

In Poland there are no data banks to which a computer owner could have access through a telephone or so-called modem, nor are there the information networks so popular in the West, through which computer users could cooperate among themselves. Such banks, in view of the present level of computer ownership, which is high by East European standards, would be useful in Poland.

There are two causes of this state of affairs. The first is of a cultural nature. Some owners of computers do not feel the need to use a data bank or to take part in an information network. Some use their computers for financial accounting purposes, but they do not feel the need to take part in modern information-gathering networks. Some use computers as typewriters and others for fun and for computer games.

Overcoming the cultural barrier requires, first of all, raising the level of knowledge of computer science. Many computer owners lacked the time, or felt no need, to improve their knowledge of computer science. For some of them having a computer was a question of fashion, not functional utility.

The other, equally important reason for the inadequate use of computer potential in Poland is a technical one, resulting from the underdevelopment of telecommunications. At the beginning of 1990 almost 3 million telophones had been installed in Poland, which was equivalent to 7.8 per 100 inhabitants - i.e. three times less than the European average and six times less than the indicator for the most advanced economies.

Only one in ten telephones is installed in rural areas and 8,000 Polish villages do not have telephones at all. The situation in towns varies. In some of them the level of subscription is very low; for example, in Walbrzych, where there are 6.6 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. In Warsaw there are 23 subscribers for every 100 inhabitants. Even there, where the number of telephones is greater, the chances of obtaining a connection are limited owing to an insufficient network of telephone exchanges, the obsolete design of those exchanges, etc.

The underdevelopment of the Polish telephone system is the basic barrier to the development of connections with the world. In 1988 Poland had automatic bidireetional circuits with only 22 European countries. Outside Europe only the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Kuwait could get automatic connections with Poland, while Poland could only connect with them through manually operated telephone exchanges, with waiting times of up to a dozen hours. Poland is connected with the outside world through 564 lines only, and the world with Poland through 980 lines. In 1988 these were used for almost 140 million calls between subscribers in the outside world and Poland, and 65 million calls between subscribers in Poland and the rest of the world. This explains, to a large extent, the long waiting time experienced by a subseriber in Poland for connection with a number outside the country.

Telefax connections are also inadequate. According to estimates, in 1990 the number of telefax devices in the world amounted to 6.3 million and in Poland to 5,000. The situation is not satisfactory as far as telexes are concerned (in 1990 there were 34,000 in Poland). Wireless telephony is virtually non-existent in Poland.

Changing this situation requires considerable capital investment and time, without which conditions for computerization will not improve.

In other words, a changed approach to human rights, reflected in giving priority to the liberally perceived rights of individuals, especially the right of access to information, can be seen as one of the conditions for the development of computerization. However, this is not the sole condition. An equally important part is played by the creation of appropriate technical conditions, for without this computerization cannot be implemented.

Poland, like other countries of Eastern Europe, still lags far behind the West, as a result not only of an underdeveloped technological base, but also of a lower level of technical culture.


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.


1.. See A.P. Movcharn, Prava chelouyeka i mezhdunarodnye otnoskenya (Moscow, 1982) and E.V. Klimova, Mezhdunarodnoye sotruduichestvo i prava chelovyeka (Moscow, 1981).

2. K. Marx, "Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844," MED, vol. 1, p. 626 (in Polish).

3. K. Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach," MED, vol. 3, p. 7 (in Polish).

4. See P. Kowalski, "Human Needs and Human Rights" (Warsaw, 1989), Ossolineum, pp. 44-45 (in Polish).

5. Marx (note 2 above), p. 590.

6. Jan Berting, in chapter I of this volume, writes: "Marx himself rejected at least part of the human rights laid down in the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen, which he regarded as liberal rights based on a false concept of the nature of man. Marx stressed the importance of the social nature of man and of the priority of socio-economic rights in a world in which sharp socio-economic inequalities prevail. Marxism neglected to develop its own theoretical basis of this conception of human rights. "

7. See B. Hawrylyszyn, Road Maps to the Future (Oxford, 1980).

8. Kowalski (note 4 above), p. 152.

9. Kowalski (note 4 above), p. 154.

10. Kowalski (note 4 above), pp. 148-151.

11. Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (Warsaw, 1989), p. 39 (in Polish).

12. See "Evolution of the Institution of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (Ombudsman) in the Contemporary World," in Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (note 11 above).

13. See "Law on the Commissioner for Civil Rights Prorection," in Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection (note 11 above), p. 56.

14. See R. Bradley, "The Role of the Ombudsman in relation to the Protection of Citizen's Rights," Cambridge Law Journal, vol. 39, no. 2 (1980).

15. See G.F. Caiden, ed., International Handbook of the Ombudsman (London, 1983), vols. 1 and 2.

16. See J. Pajestka, "Determinants of Progress; Factors and Interrelationships of Socioeconomic Development," PWE (Warsaw, 1975) (in Polish).

17. Unfortunately, in practice the above interrelationships are rarely of a linear character.

18. Berting (note 6 above) states: "science and technology have strongly determined economic development."

19. Pajestka (note 16 above), p. 186.

20. See J. Machowski, "Freedom of Scientific research as a Human Right" Zycie szkoly wyzszej, no. 10 (1989): 23-38 (in Polish).

21. See G. Monkiewicz, J. Monkiewicz, and J. Ruszkiewicz, "Foreign Scientific and Technological Policy of Poland," Ossolineum (Warsaw, 1989), p. 67 (in Polish).

22. Moukiewicz et al. (note 21 above), p. 102.

23. Berting (note 6 above) describes traditional technologies as "industrial technology."

24. Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Developments (UN, 1982), pp. 43-44.

25. See note 24 above.

26. See note 24 above.

27. See note 24 above, p. 84.

28. See Ryszard Dyoniziak, "Reform-oriented Opinions of steel Industry Workers," Gospodarka i demokrarja, no. 4 (1988) (in Polish).

29. Berting (note 6 above) describes advanced technologies as "post-industrial technologies. "

30. See Miroslaw Dude, "Can Poland Do without Nuclear Power engineering Wiedza i zyrie, no. 5 (1990) (in Polish).

31. Julian Liniecki, "Power Engineering and Health and the environment, Wiedza i zycie, no. 5 (1990) (in Polish). The author is the director of the Institute of Radiology in Zódz, head of the Nuclear Medicine Unit, member of the International Commission of Radiological Protection and expert of the UN Committee for Research into the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

32. According to Cesare Silvi, an Italian nuclear power engineering expert (Adranced Technology and East-West Cooperation, Institute for East-West Security Studies, New York, 1987), Eastern and Western Europe show an important similarity in the type of reactor adopted. The Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) dominates throughout both Eastern and Western Europe. As of December 1985, 16 VVER-440 PWR type reactors were operating and 23 were under construction in East European countries while 70 PWR were operating and 26 were being built in Western Europe. European nuclear power programmes envisage greater use of this type of reactor. Before the Chernobyl accident, about 180 plants of this type were scheduled to operate in Europe by the year 2000, 120 of them in Western Europe.

33. February 1989.

34. See Silvi (note 32 above), p.24. An attempt at estimating material losses incurred by the Soviet Union was made in the American PlanEcon Report, vol. 2, no. 19-20, of 16 May 1986. According to that study, "the most direct cost of the Chernobyl accident to the Soviets: the loss of the reactor, the cost of the clean-up operation, health care costs, low agricultural output and relocation and other costs was in the region of 2.7-4.3 billion, which was roughly equivalent to about 0.25-0.39 per cent of the Soviet rouble GNP."

35. See E. Biderman, Nuclear Power Engineering - Man - environment, (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, 1989) (in Polish).

36. See H. Steckler, "Economic, Ecological and Social Aspects of New technologies and Decisions Concerning their Application and Development," Zagaduienia nautoznawstwa, nos. 3-4 (1988) (in Polish).

37. See note 24 above, p. 45

38. See "The Polish Miracle," Gazeta wyborcza, no. 126 of 2 November 1989 and no. 77 of 31 March 1990 (in Polish).

39. According to estimates the number of I million microcomputers will be reached in the Soviet Union only at the end of 1990.


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(introductory text...)


Background information

In order to place Ethiopia in its geopolitical setting with respect to technology, we shall first have a very brief look at Africa in general. This is also necessary because the conclusions reached by this study will have implications that go beyond Ethiopia. We are conscious in attempting this that, since Africa is so vast and varied, a short introductory remark on it is doomed to be a gross oversimplification. However, the ideas on Africa that are generally prevalent are so vague that even a woefully inadequate reminder will serve a purpose.

Scientists seem now to agree that man originated at the foot of the eastern African mountains (500-800 m above sea-level). He developed and improved his first technologies there and added new ones to them before moving further afield.1 Further refinement of existing technologies and the addition of new ones occurred as man's ancestors migrated to the Ethiopian plateau and to higher latitudes in Eurasia.2 In environments more hostile than those at his centre of origin, where he had developed his earliest repertoire of technologies, man was perhaps stimulated to improve those technologies, and to add new ones, by the need to make the environment less hostile.3

The existence of technologies of various degrees of sophistication on the African continent is an important factor to be borne in mind in assessing the impact of modern technology on any part of the continent. Since the impact of modern technology on the traditional straddles so many areas of social, economic, and political life, this study had to make a choice of some selected areas for detailed study. We have chosen one which is primarily political and another which is primarily social in its impact. The two selected areas are firearms technology and the impact of technology on the traditional work of women. Both are examined against their historical setting without reference to which they cannot be adequately understood. It should be emphasized that these are only two among the vast spectrum of issues from which a selection could be made.

It is appropriate to begin a study of the impact of European technology on the traditional with a brief reference to the Industrial Revolution in Europe - the most dramatic technological development that has occurred in the last 300 years. The beginnings of this revolution were in post-Renaissance south-western Europe. North-western Europe soon caught up with and overtook the southwest. As the Industrial Revolution wrought vast improvements both in the scale and in the sophistication of industrial production, the technologies of warfare shared in these benefits and advanced to a level of attainment impossible but for that revolution. These technologies provided Europe with the means of colonization of other territories, especially those in which the technology of warfare lagged far behind. Southern and eastern Europe and the parts of Asia at approximately similar latitudes to Europe were technologically not inferior enough for western Europe to try to colonize them. Africa and southern Asia were inferior enough, at least in the technologies of warfare, to be occupied, and they became European colonies. Likewise, the Americas and Australia, which did not have a level of technological development comparable to that of northern Europe, also became colonies.

Colonization provided the backdrop for the introduction of the other technologies of the West.

The European technologies introduced by the colonial powers were often so different from the normal repertoire of native technologies that they could not be incorporated into those native technologies. Some modern technologies introduced into indigenous societies could not even be effectively maintained, let alone developed de novo. Predictably, therefore, the usual reaction of the native populations in many parts of Africa was either to accept any and every European technology that could be obtained, including the non-technological trappings associated with it - for example, the eating of wheat bread and the rejection of traditional foods - or to reject totally all European technology. Given the efficiency of the European technologies, many of the more important native African technologies died out in the process.

This did not happen uniformly throughout Africa. In northern Africa and the Horn of Africa, for example, the acceptance of the new technologies was less uncritical. As a result , much more traditional industry exists in these regions than in the rest of Africa.

Before the advent of European technology, the African homestead, as a functional component of the village in which it was found, was self-sufficient in producing, or receiving through exchange, and applying its technological hardware. The exceptions were the production of iron and iron implements, weaving (where this technology was traditionally in use), pot-making, and, in some areas, tanning, where the technological expertise was confined to a distinct group or caste. There was thus very little specialization of labour. The little specialization that existed tended to divide the society into castes or caste-like groups which were often considered inferior. At the same time, these groups came to be viewed with some degree of fear because of the special powers they seemed to exercise through their technology - a power that came to be associated with the supernatural.

These attitudes led, in many African societies, to the violation of human rights because the specialized group was often given a lower status and this status became hereditary. In Kefa in Ethiopia, for example, craftsmen were barred from giving evidence at court.4 This state of affairs had in turn a detrimental effect on technology, which was prevented from reaching its full stature because of such attitudes. This was an additional reason why the colonizers found local technology in an underdeveloped state when they entered Africa. If technology is to progress in any community, the Ethiopian experience examined here underscores the need for the exponents of that technology to receive adequate social recognition. If they are downgraded and despised, the possible contribution of their technology to the uplifting of that society is greatly undermined.

By contrast, perhaps because of their proximity to Europe, and also perhaps because their pre-colonial and cohesive Islamic and Arab culture gave them a degree of homogeneity, the North African Arab countries coped with European technologies more successfully. Moreover, even though their environment was not generally as favourable as that of some other parts of Africa for agricultural development, those of them that relied entirely on agriculture had quite sophisticated technologies and relatively efficient production. In modern times, with the additional advantage that many have of oil resources, they have been able to maintain their technology at a higher level, feed their populations and meet their other basic needs. This is, however, not true of the Sudan, which, largely because of its heterogeneity, has been too deeply embroiled in civil wars to develop itself effectively. In this context, the Sudan is more like a state of the Horn of Africa than of North Africa.

In the field of received technology, a distinction can be drawn between countries dependent on French and on British technological models. With the exception of the Horn of Africa, the rest of Africa is divided into francophone and anglophone camps, with a small group of portugophone countries. The differences between these two groups seems to emanate not only from language but also from culture and technological dependence on the metropolitan powers. During the colonial period, the egalitarian-minded, republican French seem to have taken their mission of "civilizing" Africa very seriously. Unfortunately, "civilized" to them meant "rendered French." The élite of the francophone countries thus show a great deal of dependence on French models. As a result, technological development in the post-colonial period has been uniformly low owing to the predisposition to import from France to ensure French quality and avoid inferior local substitutions. The less egalitarian, royalist British were more prepared to permit diversity to continue in their colonies, provided this did not interfere in colonial administration. More varied technological models, including the indigenous, could thus coexist more easily. The élite of the anglophone countries, more willing to accept differences from English stereotypes, thus led their countries along more diverse experiments in development. As a result, technological development in anglophone countries in the post-colonial era has also been varied, with West Africa, perhaps owing to its longer period of colonization, adopting European technology much more extensively than East Africa, where traditional technologies and modifications thereof are clearly noticeable.

In North Africa, proud of its Arab language and conscious of its Arab heritage, the issue of having been a French or a British colony is not as divisive as in the rest of Africa.

Southern Africa is dominated by the Republic of South Africa, where European settlers keep abreast of technological changes and control all power. This makes it, in terms of technological adoption and adaptation, analogous to a European country like North America and Australia, and thus it is beyond the scope of this study.

The portugophone countries became independent more recently. Their colonial wars were immediately succeeded by civil wars which are still continuing. Besides, their colonizing country, Portugal, is by no means the most technologically advanced among European countries. The likelihood of portugophone countries being ready for modern technological development was thus very remote.

In terms of area and population size, Ethiopia constitutes the bulk of the Horn of Africa. Since we will look at Ethiopia in more detail, we need not say much more here. Not only culturally, but also ethnically, both Somalia and Djibouti are similar to the lowlands of eastern Ethiopia. Their colonial history, which could have given them a different technological dimension, does not seem to have done so. Somalia has turned out to be in as much difficulty as Ethiopia, not only in coping with European technology, but even in coping with internal dissent and consequent civil wars. Djibouti, perhaps because of its small size, has remained peaceful and belongs to the francophone camp.

Background Information on Ethiopia

Ethiopia first appeared in recorded history in about the fifth century be. It began as a group of city states in what is now northern Ethiopia. These came to be united under the rule of Axum. In the first half of the fourth century AD, Christianity became the official religion of Ethiopia. Judaism, believed by many to have been introduced earlier, and paganism have also continued to exist. Islam came into the country while the Prophet Muhammad was still alive, and has been an important socio-political variable ever since. Ethiopia has thus always been a multi-ethnic and multi-religious entity.

In the Middle Ages, the larger part of the northern Ethiopian massif constituted the main Christian Ethiopian empire under the direct rule of the King of Kings. All around it were a number of vassal states, those in the eastern lowlands and in the southern highlands being Muslim, those in the south-western and western highlands being animist, and those in the north-west being Jewish and mixtures of animism, Judaism, and Christianity.

The population of the main highland Christian dominion, and probably also that of the satellite states, was divided into rigidly defined, hierarchically organized castes.5 At the top was the aristocracy, ranging from the royal family to the yeoman (shmaglle) class at the farm level. Its complement was the farm labourer or serf (mestegabr) class which worked on the land of the aristocracy under the supervision of the yeoman class. There were also a number of subsidiary classes and social strata. There was a class of professional soldiers (chewa), which, though rigidly defined, was not strictly a caste, since any individual or group from without could join it when forced to by authority or need. There were several closed classes of artisans (blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, tanners, weavers, tailors, woodworkers, potters, etc.), and even musicians and professional beggars, which formed strictly endogamous castes. It is relevant to a study of technology in the Ethiopian context to note that the artisan castes, as already observed, were often credited with supernatural powers and much feared.

The coming into Ethiopia of Western technology in the form of firearms started a process that shook the entire society and drastically changed the class stratification of the Middle Ages. The details of this process6 cannot be fully treated here.

Even since the re-establishment of contacts with Europe in the sixteenth century, Ethiopia has shown a desire to acquire European technology. Alvares7 has recorded that Emperor Lbne Dngl (1508-1540) wanted artisans from Europe. According to Basset,8 Emperor Sertse Dngl (1563-1595) wrote to the King of Spain requesting that he send artisans who could make cannons and gunpowder. According to Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie,9 during Emperor Sussnyos's time (1605-1632), a number of new technologies were introduced into Ethiopia by European artisans, including a flour mill which required no human or animal power and which, therefore, was presumably a water mill,10 a new kind of bridge made with stone and lime,11 and a palace also constructed with stone and lime.12 It should be noted, however, that though the use of lime to make strong cemented walls to support vaulted buildings appeared new to Emperor Sussnyos's chroniclers, and presumably to the Emperor and his court, churches similarly constructed had already been reported in Tigray and Wello.13 The supposedly new introductions of Emperor Sussnyos's time later gave rise to the much grander castles of Gonder.14 However, there was considerable religious turmoil, both against the newly introduced Catholicism and among sects in the old-established Orthodox Church. Combined with this were continuing population movements caused by Oromo immigration which, together with the more complete severing of the sea route by the Turks, brought about an instability which weakened the central government and resulted in the break-up of the country into small principalities.

A large part of the old empire was reunited by Emperor Theodros (18541867), who tried to establish a firearms industry in Ethiopia. After him, Emperor Menelik (1889-1913) tried to introduce a European way of life. The trend was continued until the onset of the Ethiopian revolution in 1974, with a five-year, qualitatively different phase during the Italian occupation (1935-1941). In this phase, though much technological hardware obviously came into the country with the Italians, Ethiopian technological development was arrested, as the native Ethiopians were not allowed access to education beyond basic literacy in Italian. Nevertheless, owing to the length (over 50 years) of stay of the Italians in Eritrea, many people living there informally acquired a knowledge of some European technologies and they played an important role in the spread of European technologies to the rest of Ethiopia in the post-ltalian period.

Military technological hardware was used by the Italians against the Ethiopians for military and punitive purposes. In Addis Ababa between 19 and 21 February 1937 alone, about 30,000 people were killed and much of the city was burnt down.15 However, modern technology was abused not only by the Italians, but by the feudal establishment as well. For most of them, European technology was only the means for increasing personal power and obtaining personally useful services. An extreme example is given by Isenberg and Krapf,16 who visited Ethiopia in 1839-1842. They report that an Albanian built a bridge over the River Beresa in northern Shewa, and Sahle Sllasie, King of Shewa, declared that it was for his use only. In one year, four people were drowned trying to ford the river beside that bridge!

The European technological introductions, which increased dramatically in the twentieth century, were often governed by the same philosophy as that of King Sahle Sllasie, though, owing to the overall increased awareness in the country, much less blatantly so. Respect for human rights was generally secondary to questions of gains in personal power, wealth, and other advantages on the part of the top members of the aristocracy. Transportation and telecommunications technology and the associated infrastructure made it possible for the few in the centre to accumulate power in their hands, thus eroding whatever autonomy peripheral areas might have enjoyed. Even cultural difference from the established centre came to be viewed as tantamount to declaring oneself not to be Ethiopian. The long established pluralism of Ethiopia, therefore, started to be diluted.

In short, European technologies have been used to centralize power and to erode traditional group and individual human rights. In the context of meeting basic needs for survival (health, food, shelter), however, there have been some noticeable gains. Even if modern medicine is not accessible to all Ethiopians, its availability has been increasing and more and more people are thus saved from suffering and premature death. The small gains in housing construction arising from the availability of new building materials, has, however, been more than offset by the unhygienic conditions arising from people crowding into urban slums.

A subsistence agricultural economy is often prone to famine. Because of the international mass media, such famines are brought to the attention of the world and modern transportation facilities bring food donated from various countries to the starving. But these facilities, which bring food into the country, cannot be used to address the more basic problem of transporting food within the country from surplus to deficit areas. Moreover, if there has been any improvement in the subsistence agricultural system attributable to modern technologies, it has been more than offset by increases in the overall population and especially in the number of urban people who need food from the countryside.

Since the revolution of 1974, though the government has enacted legislation to enable it to foster more actively than hitherto the development of science and technology, it has been too deeply embroiled in civil war to make substantial headway in implementing it. The civil war situation has also increased the use of modern technologies for destruction and human suffering. However, there have also been some efforts to use science and technology for the betterment of human life, for example in the provision of safe piped water to village communities.

A number of factors contribute towards creating this sorry state of science and technology in Ethiopia. There is as yet no coherent science and technology policy, though, for the first time in the country's history, a draft has now been developed by the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission and is being discussed. As a result, the importation and adoption of modern technologies has been haphazard. The combination of this lack of policy and the country's overall poverty have made the funding of science and technology woefully inadequate.

Technological hardware is, to a large extent, determined by existing factories and enterprises. Most of these were created in pre-revolution days by individual entrepreneurs from all over the world, who made their investments in the context of a total absence of science and technology policy. They therefore bear little relationship to the technological needs and capabilities of other factories and cottage industries or even to the natural resources that should have complemented or supplemented them. Even enterprises and institutions established by the post-revolutionary government are not entirely free of this problem, as the "advisors" that influenced the technical decisions on them hailed from different countries with varied backgrounds and interests.

Research and development (R&D) is in its infancy in most scientific fields. It depends mainly on donor funding. This means that R&D priorities are largely set haphazardly by the whims of individual donors.

As a result of all these factors, the development of science and technology in Ethiopia has been very unsatisfactory. To make matters worse, the uncritical importation of technological hardware has killed and is continuing to kill cottage industries. For example, enough iron used to be smelted in traditionally constructed kilns to make the country self-sufficient in iron. Now, the smelting cottage industry has totally disappeared and the country imports all its iron and steel. Some cottage industries (e.g. spinning and weaving) have survived and even continued to develop. For example, because Ethiopians value their traditional costumes and these have also become attractive items for visitors and for export, the traditional technologies to produce these have not been replaced by modern technologies. The working conditions for the people have also been improved, particularly where workers' cooperatives have been set up.

Historical Development

As described in the preceding section, Ethiopia has a complex background and includes many nationalities. As a result of this heterogeneity, Ethiopia had no codified uniform norms constituting a legal system. Such norms as existed were, by and large, customary. This meant that it had as many norms as nationalities- and even more, for it was often the case that more than one norm existed in a nationality. These norms, moreover, were amorphous.

This does not mean that Ethiopia is entirely without written law. There was some written law in Ethiopia as far back as the sixteenth century. The Fetha negest, the law of the kings, proclaimed by Emperor Zera Yacob, dealt with both spiritual and temporal matters. There are also the Bible and the Koran.

When modernization of the country's legal system commenced in the twentieth century, however, insufficient effort was made to study the country's customary and written laws with the aim of using them as possible sources. Instead, the eclectic "importation" of legal norms was preferred. This brought about the promulgation of constitutions and codes comparable to those of the developed countries as far as their modernity was concerned. This took place up to the middle of the 1960s, beginning with the promulgation of the country's first Constitution in 1931. This constitution did not, however, deal extensively with human rights, unlike the Revised Constitution of 1955.17

Our aim is not, however, to discuss the historical development of the country's legal system. For this, we refer the reader to other works.18 We will only look briefly at the legal background to human rights in Ethiopia.

The incorporation of human rights in Ethiopia's legal system began with the federation of Eritrea with the rest of Ethiopia on 11 September 1952. Eritrea had been made an Italian colony in 1890 and had remained so until 1941, when it became a British protectorate. The constitution for Eritrea was drafted under the auspices of the United Nations during the process of federation.19 Thus, it is no wonder that its provisions on the rights of citizens were almost identical with those embodied in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.20

Ethiopia is one of the founding members of the United Nations. The country's Revised Constitution of 1955 incorporated norms for human rights that have equivalents in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the Eritrean Constitution.21 Whatever norms on human rights existed at that time in Ethiopia were by and large customary and hence amorphous.

The outbreak of the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution was a milestone in the development of norms for human rights in Ethiopia. This had been preceded by the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of the United Nations of 1966, which formulated the rights of man as a whole. Given this background, it is not surprising that the Constitution of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia of 1987 embodied both political and economic human rights.22

Essence of Human Rights as Embodied in the Constitution of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

It is common practice to classify human rights guaranteed by the constitutions of states into civil, political, social, and economic rights.23 If we follow this classification and examine the Constitution, we find right of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, equality before the law - rights that are commonly known as civil rights - provided under Articles 47, 48, and 35 of the Constitution. The right to elect and be elected, a right that can be cited as a political right, is embodied under Article 50 of the Constitution. the right to work, the right to education, and the right to health care, rights that can be cited as social and economic rights, are embodied under Articles 38, 40, and 42 of the Constitution.24

It is also common to draw a distinction between rights and freedoms. This distinction is followed in the Constitution. Thus, equality of women and men, equality of spouses, and entitlement to work, to cite but a few of the human rights, are referred to as rights under Articles 36, 37, and 38 of the Constitution. The entitlement to speak freely, to publish freely, to assemble and demonstrate are, on the other hand, referred to as freedoms.25

Articles 35 to 58 of the Constitution of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) of 1987, found in chapter 7, part 2, entitled "Citizenship, Freedoms, Rights, and Duties," shows that these provisions embody, to a large extent, norms for human rights as so far declared by the United Nations.26 It has, however, been stated that "[a] constitutional civil rights provision is often an empty vessel if left unattended, that is if not associated with an appropriate statute law." 27

Let us, therefore, briefly examine Ethiopia's legal system in order to ascertain the extent of implementing legislation on human rights.

Implementing Legislation and Human Rights

Since it is common knowledge that a right implies a duty, if a right exists a corresponding duty must be enforced on someone else who is likely to violate that right, either because of self-interest or in the process of the discharge of a public function. Irrespective of its contents, therefore, in order that it may be enjoyed by its holder, others must refrain from interference, unless, as is visualized under Article 58 of the Constitution of the PDRE,28 its exercise is limited by law "only in order to protect the interest of the state and society as well as the freedoms and rights of other individuals." This provision is almost identical with Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

It must be pointed out that almost all of the codes in Ethiopia were promulgated under the country's 1955 Constitution.29 It may thus be appropriate to ask how legislation passed, by and large, with the aim of ensuring the observance of human rights, as embodied in the country's Revised Constitution of 1955, could be of any use in ensuring the observance of human rights as embodied in the Constitution of the PDRE of 1987.

As far as civil and political rights are concerned, what was guaranteed by the Revised Constitution of 1955 and what is guaranteed by the Constitution of 1987 are more or less the same. This can be easily ascertained by comparing civil and political rights embodied in both constitutions with the relevant provisions of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The only difference is that the 1987 Constitution embodied economic and social human rights as well.

Thus, the observance of civil and political rights embodied in the 1987 Constitution can equally be ensured by the penal and civil sanctions provided in the penal, civil, and criminal procedure codes promulgated under the 1955 Revised Constitution.30 These laws remain in force until replaced by new laws by the Declaration of Establishment of the PDRE proclamation 2/1987.31

As regards the protection of economic rights embodied in the 1987 Constitution, implementing legislation can be of use if, and only if, the economic conditions necessary for their realization exist. Ethiopia being one of the least developed countries in the world, the enunciation of these rights could at best be programmatic. The legislature does not ignore this. An examination of the relevant provisions of the Constitution shows that the implementation of such a right is made conditional upon the achievement, at a national level, of the economic condition necessary for its realization.

It is common knowledge that the abuse of civil and political rights is largely committed by officials entrusted with the curtailment of such rights in the interest of the public at large, in accordance with certain procedures defined by law. It thus becomes legitimate to expect that, where constitutions guarantee these rights, corresponding penal laws must make the abuse of such rights a crime..

The Ethiopian Penal Code32 meets these expectations. An examination of its special part shows that:

(a) Public servants, even when lawfully authorized to carry out searches or to effect seizure, who forcibly enter a person's house or premises or who execute acts of search, seizure or sequestration other than those authorized by law, or without due regard for the conditions and forms thereby prescribed,

are, under Article 415, punishable with simple imprisonment for not longer than one month;

(b) Any public servant who arrests or detains another except in accordance with the law, or who disregards the forms and safeguards prescribed by law,

is, under Article 416, punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding five years, and a fine; and

(c) Any public servant charged with arrest, custody, supervision, escort or interrogation of a person who is under suspicion, under arrest, summoned to appear before a court of justice, detained or interned, who, in the performance of his duties treats the person concerned in an improper or brutal manner, or in a manner which is incompatible with human dignity, or with the dignity of his office, especially by the use of blows, cruelty or physical or mental torture, be it to obtain a statement or a confession, or to any other similar end,

is, under Article 417, punishable with fine or simple imprisonment

These crimes carry heavier penalties under the revised special penal code proclamation 214/1981.33 Moreover, an examination of the Civil Code shows that the official and the state could be held jointly liable for whatever damage the person whose right is abused may have suffered as a result of the abuse.34 It thus seems clear, as far as implementing legislation aimed at ensuring the observance of civil and political human rights is concerned, that there is already sufficient legislation on the statute book.

Firearms in rural and traditional ethiopia and human rights

Of all the European technologies introduced into Ethiopia, firearms have had the longest sustained impact, one that has, directly and indirectly, totally changed the country demographically, socially, politically, and economically. A study of this particular technology is therefore of special importance to an examination of the impact of modern science and technology in Ethiopia. A brief review of weapons technology in Ethiopia prior to the advent of firearms will help to explain the impact of the latter.

Ethiopian Medieval Arms

The medieval arms of Ethiopia (nwayate haql) consisted of bows and arrows, swords and shields, spears, coats of mail, helmets, slings, and rolling boulders.

Bows and Arrows

Bows and arrows (qest and ahtsa) were extensively used by the armies of the Christian establishment, for example in the reigns of Emperor Gelawdewos (1540-1560)35 and Emperor Sussnyos (1607-1632).36 They were also used by armies of neighbouring vassal states, for example those of Yifat,37 Adel,38 and tribal areas not incorporated into the empire, e. g. the Nilotic people of the Tekkeze valley in north-west Ethiopia,39 and even a pagan religious sect.40 A very vivid description of the use of the bow and arrow in battle is given in the chronicle of Emperor Amde Tsion,41 in which the Emperor 'rose leaping like a leopard and roaring like a lion, drew his bow and shot at the King of Hegera. And the arrow struck him in the neck....' The King of Hegera fell and that finished the battle.

Poncet42 states that the imperial army was unable, initially, to cope with the poison (hmz) of the arrows of the Nilotic tribes with whom it often clashed, but that it soon discovered an antidote. This shows us that arrow poison was then unknown in the Christian highlands of Ethiopia, but that some tribal groups used it. We also have the tragic story of the tribe of Elmaya, which sent 2,000 warriors armed with bows and poisoned arrows to help Emperor Lbne Dngl in his decisive battle against Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi - often referred to as Gran. The warriors mistook the Emperor's camp for that of the enemy and entered it to be totally wiped out.43 The Ashmen tribe of Gafat, now incorporated into the Amhara nationality, are also reported to have attacked with poisoned arrows Emperor Sussnyos's small army when he was a wanderer still aiming at the crown.44


Swords (asyft), shields (welatw), and spears or lances (quiyanw) were the standard set of arms of the infantry, with swords and spears being used by the cavalry also. The spear is said to consist of three parts. The sharp piercing point, made of iron or steel, is called quinat, tor, chmara, or chrrie. This is attached to a long wooden handle, the zabia. To the end of the zabia opposite the metal point is an iron ring, the megureb, which gives the whole implement both the additional weight and balance to enable it to be directed at a target and the required momentum to pierce the target.

The spear is the weapon which epitomizes war, and the words for battle are quinat in Tigrinya and tor in Amharic, which means spear in those languages. Virtually every reference to medieval arms in Ethiopian chronicles refers to these three weapons. Only a small sample of references can be given here, from the reigns of Emperor Amde Tsion (1312-1342),45 Emperor Gelawdewos (1540-1560),46 and Emperor Sussnyos (1607-1632).47 These weapons were used even in the nineteenth century, when Emperor Yohannes defeated the Egyptians at Gura'.48

To a more limited extent, the dagger (methaht or shotel) and javelin (armah) were also used, as reported for Yifat.49 The dagger also features in the death of the important warrior, Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi, which was effected by an unnamed poor man in Shire, western Tigray.50

Coats of Mail

Coats of mail (tsrur or dir'a hatsin) and helmets (qur') were used by the cavalry. The coat of mail was obviously inflexible and the neck had a separate tubular piece (borboti) protecting it.51 Not all cavalry soldiers wore coats of mail. Instead they swathed themselves with many turns of a long cloth (qnat, meqennet). It seems that, sometimes, perhaps for flexibility, even the emperors fought in this manner; for example, Emperor Amde Tsion is described, when fighting Gemalding of Yifat, as having been struck with a sword "cutting the belt [qnat] round his waist and the military tunic which he wore." 52

One associates the coat of mail and the helmet with European medieval knights so much that it may sound strange to find them in medieval Ethiopia as well. Nevertheless, they are consistently mentioned and described in the royal chronicles and other records,53 leaving no doubt of their extensive use in Ethiopia.

The Impact of Firearms on Medieval Ethiopia

The arrival of firearms in Ethiopia was traumatic. Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi, the Emir of Harer, one of the hitherto Muslim states of the east which had formerly been vassal states, armed with muskets and cannon from the Turkish Pacha of Zebid, and mercenaries from the Mocha Arabs, India, Persia, Egypt, and Turkey,54 routed the Christian empire. Emperor Lbne Dngl (1508-1540) became a fugitive for 11 years before his death.55 Ahmed's ravaging of Christian Ethiopia was only slightly checked in Tigray, and that was owing to some firearms the Tigrayans had acquired, thanks to their geographical position by the sea.56 Ahmed also failed twice to break the defences of the mountain fortress of Amba Gishen in Wello, perhaps primarily because of the natural impregnability of the fortress, though, at least in the second attempt, firearms were used in its defence.57 Emperor Lbne Dngl's son, Gelawdewos (1540-1560), inherited the throne and obtained military assistance from the Portuguese to the tune of 400 soldiers and a little more than 400 muskets.58 With this assistance, he defeated Ahmed, and the Christian empire was re-established, though it was much weakened. Nineteen years later, Nur Ibn El Mujahid, Ahmed's nephew and successor,59 returned to attack Gelawdewos, who had only 100 musketeers and a very small army at his disposal. Ahmed's nephew, with 500 musketeers and an overwhelming number of soldiers, had the superior power and Gelawdewos was shot dead in the ensuing battle.60 This event was followed by carnage in Shewa.61

Emperor Sussnyos's chroniclers62 tell us that in the battle against Yacob in 1607, though there was much firing from Emperor Yacob's side, only one per son on Sussnyos's side was killed by a bullet. The impact of firearms at that time must, therefore, have been primarily psychological. Speke,63 describing of his visit to the northern part of Somalia, relates that, among the Somalis, it is the loudness of the report of a firearm and not its accuracy in hitting the target that counts. At any rate, the fact that the sound of firearms was used effectively by the imperial state to intimidate the leader of a peripheral tribal people has been recorded in the Ethiopian royal chronicles.64 The realization that the enemy possesses an incomprehensible novel means of killing would unnerve an army. An illustration of this can be given from the period of Emperor Iyassu (1682-1706).65 Iyassu's army was attacked by the ferocious Nilotic tribal people living downstream on the Mereb river, but it took only musket shots and the death of two individuals from the attacking side for the whole tribal army to scatter. A larger-scale and more dramatic instance of the psychological impact of firearms is given by the chronicler of Emperor Sertse Dngl (1563-1597).66 The imperial army attacked the Biete Israel (Jews) of Smyen. The mountain fortress of the Biete Israel looked impregnable, with huge boulders ready to be rolled down on the attacking army. But cannon fire so frightened the defenders that they lost. When their boulders were later rolled down to render them harmless, the chronicler tells us that one of them, on landing below, buried itself, leaving a hole in the ground two cubits (about one metre) deep, and rightly states that if it had landed on people, their bones, let alone their flesh, would not have been left in a recognizable state.

The awe with which the impact of firearms was held has been vividly described by the authors of the chronicles: "And the sun became shrouded in the smoke of the fire of war as if enveloped in a thick mist." 67

It seems that though the emperors saw the need for firearms, initially they used foreigners, mercenaries or others, to fire their arms. We know that the muskets and cannon used in Amba Gishen to defend it against Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi were handled by Arabs.68 In 1607, during Emperor Sussnyos's last battle to attain power, it was Turks that fired the opposite side's muskets and cannons.69 Even as late as 1693,70 we find references to Turks operating as musketeers for the Emperor.

It is understandable that, as a new technology, the firearms came in with their operators, the equivalent of modern "advisors" or "experts." What seems strange is that it was Turks and Arabs and not Portuguese and Spaniards who were used as "experts," in spite of the fact that the Turks and Arabs were on the opposite side when firearms were so traumatically introduced into Ethiopia. One possible reason is that both the Portuguese and Spaniards were too overstretched in their extensive colonies to afford the men required. A more likely explanation is that the arms were acquired through commerce with the Arabs and Turks, and that the "experts" that came with them were simply the mercenaries associated with them. One should note here that Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi's Arabs were mercenaries.71

The use of mercenaries as musketeers and artillery soldiers in Ethiopia should

not be taken to mean that Ethiopians shunned firearms totally. Rather, it indicates that, as is the case with the adoption of any new technology, they needed time to get used to firearms. That they soon did so is attested to by the records. Emperor Sussnyos (1607-1632), for example, is said to have learned marksmanship with muskets as a component of the military training he underwent in his youth.72 Poncet73 says that Emperor Iyasu I (1682-1706) was an excellent marksman.

Familiarity with firearms probably came to Christian Ethiopians through their Muslim compatriots. It is worth noting that until 1670,74 when Emperor Yohannes I decreed separation of habitation,75 Muslims and Christians often used to live together as one community, as they have gone back to doing now.

From the fact that the Emir of Harer, then a vassal state, was instrumental in the introduction of firearms into Ethiopia, it is clear that the central imperial government did not have a monopoly of firearms. We have references to other vassal states who also acquired firearms early. For example, the King of Adel brought Emperor Sussnyos (1607-1632) a gift of lead for making bullets,76 indicating that he himself had firearms. Giediewon, the King of the Biete Israel in Emperor Sussnyos's reign, is, unlike his predecessors in Sertse Dngl's (15631597) time, reported to have used firearms.77 On the other hand, vassal states far away from the sea do not seem to have acquired firearms. Even as late as 1882, for example, the kingdom of Jimma Abba Jifar, in south-western Ethiopia, is reported to have had a total of only 50 rifles and a few pistols.78

It seems that not only vassal states but also regional governors had firearms at their disposal, sometimes to the detriment of the central government When the rebellion against the religious changes introduced by Emperor Sussnyos started in Damot, for example, the rebels fought him with firearms and arrows.79 The Governor of Dakhena is also reported to have joined Emperor Sussnyos with 28 musketeers in his fight with Emperor Yacob for the throne.80

Since their introduction, firearms have figured prominently in Ethiopia in all kinds of situations, ranging from imperial murders,81 the killing of priests by a governor,82 civil wars,83 successful wars against other countries - e.g. against Funj in the Sudan84 and against the Ottoman Empire85 - to the scaring off with cannon shots of hippopotami on Lake Tana which threatened to capsize a small reed boat!86 We even have the record of a foolish accidental death: in 1584 Abadir, Emperor Sertse Dngl's brother, ignited gunpowder and he and his wife and children died as a result of the explosion that followed.87

The Oromo Expansion

As we have seen, the arrival of firearms saw the devastation of the Christian highlands and a general weakening of the state. The state was unable to regain its original strength because of two continuously disruptive influences, one external and one internal, which came on the scene at approximately the same time. The external influence was that of the Ottoman Empire, the internal that of the Oromo migration. The latter influence, unaccompanied as it was by the use of firearms, enables us to note an important limitation on the apparent invincibility of firearms technology. The Ottoman Empire made its first effort to occupy the Ethiopian highlands in the reign of Emperor Gelawdewos in 1557.88 Gelawdewos, we are told by his chronicler, was too preoccupied with fighting the Oromo and other internal enemies to march north from Shewa and fight the Turks.89 But the people of Bur, in eastern Tigray, fought them, killed their general Isaac, and sent his skull to the Emperor.90 The Turks rearmed themselves and came back, but they were successively defeated, no doubt with arms that came from or through them, by Emperor Minas in 156391 and Emperor Sertse Dngl in 159092 This seems to have convinced them for some time that they could not take highland Ethiopia, and they restricted themselves to the island port of Mitswa' until their next try in the nineteenth century.

Neither the Turkish colonial wars nor the religious civil wars, however, changed the face of Ethiopia as much as the Oromo migration which, unlike the Ottoman influence, was unaccompanied by firearms.

The Oromo first figured in recorded Ethiopian history in 1532, when, the royal chronicler states,93 Emperor Gelawdewos fought them, defeated them, and enslaved their young. Their rapid expansion into the highlands has been recorded by Bahry.94 We are told that in 1573 Emperor Sertse Dngl fought them around Lake Zway in the central part of the Rift Valley.95 Then, in Emperor Sussnyos's reign (1607-16323, they reached the Lake Hayq area in eastern Wello,96 southern Gojam,97 Begemdr (now southern Gonder),98 Weleqa (now Merha Bietie in northern Shewa),99 virtually the whole of Gojam100 and southern Tigray,101 and Smyen (now the eastern part of northern Gonder)102

The Oromo had no access to firearms. The royal chronicles record many wars with them and firearms are mentioned only on the imperial side. The chronicles of Emperor Sussnyos are particularly informative in this respect as, in most cases, the arms of the combatants are recalled in most of the battles. Emperor Sussnyos fought about ten battles against the Oromo,103 being defeated only once, and defeating those who defeated him soon afterwards.104 The spoils of war are described, and firearms are not mentioned even once. We have information about Oromo regiments that had been serving Emperor Sussnyos, and according to the description even their weapons did not include firearms,105 in spite of the fact that they are repeatedly mentioned in the various wars as being standard equipment of the imperial army.

If the Oromo had no firearms, how could they have defeated the heavily armed state which defeated the Ottoman Turks? One clue is found in the life of Emperor Sussnyos, who was captured by the Oromo in his childhood and lived with them for some years.106 Later, when he was fighting for the throne, he used to take refuge in Oromo-held areas. When he did, he and his men were subjected to intense hunger: no food was available as, in their conquest, the Oromo had destroyed every cultivated crop and all stored grain to the extent that cultivation had been discontinued.107 The pastoralist Oromo needed only forage for their animals and thus found it advantageous to destroy agriculture in the areas they occupied. They lived on milk from their cows, and there is usually not much milk to spare in a nomads camp, certainly not enough to feed even a small army. The medieval armies of Ethiopia did not carry much food, depending essentially on the food they could take from the communities they came upon. This meant that once an Oromo army, which moved with its milch cows, had devastated an area, it became practically out of reach to the imperial forces. In this way, the Oromo destroyed the traditional highland agricultural communities and gradually reshaped them to suit their own way of life.

But their way of life was not static. As they interacted with the settled cultivators they were destroying, initially some and eventually the whole of the Oromo society that occupied the agricultural highlands changed its way of life. Some of them gave up their nomadic lifestyle, and by the time of Emperor Iyasu I (1682-1706), there were enough Oromo communities that had become Christian and trusted citizens of the imperial regime for them to be forced to settle along the northern edge of the River Abbay (Blue Nile), forming a cordon sanitaire against invasions by other Oromo bands.108

Firearms and the Era of the Princes

In spite of the exceptional impact of the firearms-lacking Oromo, the picture emerging from this brief survey is one of firearms technology breaking down the old Ethiopian social and political structure. This trend was carried over into the era of princes, which began in 1737 with Meridazmach Abiye, Prince of Shewa, refusing to pay tribute to Emperor Iyasu II of Gonder. In the words of Emperor Yohannes, writing to Queen Victoria of Great Britain in 1872,109 since the time of Mohammed Gran [Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi] to the present day, the Ethiopian monarchs have always been getting weaker... The weakening of the emperors accelerated and the country broke up into small principalities. Firearms technology was an important contributory factor in this fundamental transformation.

When in 1737 the Prince of Shewa refused to pay the imperial tribute, an army was sent from Gonder to subjugate him, but was defeated and lost 600 muskets to him. Shewa then became virtually independent.110 The kings of Shewa continued to grow in authority. This was made possible largely because Shewa had access to firearms through Zeyla. Isenberg and Kraft111 tell us that in one military parade in 1839 alone, King Sahle Sllasie of Shewa had 6,000 troops firing muskets file past him.

Gonder had seen some Oromo attacks, but since it was the imperial seat, defence had been quick to materialize. The rulers of Gonder inherited the imperial armies with their firearms and continued to obtain additional firearms through both Tigray and the Sudan. According to Rubenson,112 there were over 1,000 muskets in the Gonder area in 1809. Gonder was the least disturbed part of the country.

Tigray (which then included present-day Eritrea) was culturally the least influenced by the Oromo. Tigray continued to use its position by the sea to arm itself, and in 1809 there were about 8,900 muskets in the region.113 Thus it seems that, in terms of firearms, Tigray led the three large regions in the Era of the Princes, followed by Shewa and then Gonder.

The rest of the country (Wello, Lasta, large parts of Gojam) was more thoroughly divided into small, usually warring units, each unit defending itself from its neighbours. For example, the entrance to Tenta at Werrehimeno in Wello was guarded by a ditch and a wall,114 and Shewa was separated from Wello to the north by a fence and a ditch.115 The petty leaders had their own armies, usually with at least some firearms. For example, Imam Liban of Werre Himeno in Wello had 1,000 matchlock guns;116 Birru Aligaz of Wadla in Wello had an unspecified number of gunners;117 Iman Faris of Bati in Wello had some firearms bought from Mocha;118 the leader of Wag, north of Lasta, was reported as having several thousand matchlock muskets.119 The southern parts of the country, as well as the centre and west, probably had no firearms, as they had no access to sources of supply. Even in the lowlands east of the Ethiopian massif, firearms were not very common; for example, Isenberg and Krapf120 state that the Somalis knew nothing about firearms and used only bows and arrows, and that the Weema tribe of the Afar did not even use bows and arrows, but had to employ 100 Somali bowmen as mercenaries.121

The traditional soldier stratum, the chewa, used to be recruited from among the poorest in society122 and even offenders were reduced to chewa as a punishment.123

In Gonder and Tigray, we are told by Isenberg and Krapf,124 individuals owned the firearms they used, implying that the chewa in these regions became quite independent. In Shewa and the other parts of Ethiopia, firearms were owned and kept under the control of the rulers. We know that in the lawlessness of the Era of the Princes, the chewa of Gonder took the law into their own hands and went on the rampage in the city.125 This is even more likely to have happened in the countryside, far from the seat of power. The chewa, therefore, would have controlled the helpless rural communities and used them in their struggle for survival in the chaos of that period.126

The smaller political entities of northern Ethiopia went a similar way. Even if firearms were a monopoly of the rulers, the chewa had enough by way of traditional arms and military training to make them community leaders. Throughout northern Ethiopia, therefore, the chewa came to be the reference social group; the present-day peasant identifies himself as chewa to the extent that the term has not only lost its original connotation of senseless ravaging hordes that must be kept in check by authority, but has come to imply good breeding and nobleness of spirit, and every peasant is proud of being of chewa descent.

The Impact of Firearms on Modern Ethiopia

In the latter part of the Era of the Princes, knowledge about Europe and its ways grew.127 This awareness focused people's attention on both the dangers from the outside world and the advantages that could be gained by finding out more about it and adopting its better aspects.128 A strong country was seen as a prerequisite for this, and the timid experiment of Gonder in more democratic government had to end. The Era of the Princes was brought to a close by the establishment of supremacy in Gonder by Emperor Theodros over the other contending aristocrats. Instead of continuing to legitimize his authority by appointing a puppet emperor, however, he crowned himself in February 1855, thus restoring the less democratically conceived, traditional, highland, Christian, absolute, royal rule.

Firearms figured importantly in Emperor Theodros's rule. As we have already seen, Tigray had more firearms than Gonder; but Emperor Theodros defeated Dejazmach Wubie, Prince of Tigray and Smyen, and Tigray then accepted his rule. As Rubenson129 has painted out, at the time firearms were not decisive in the outcome of internal struggles within Ethiopia. In any event, with the soldiers and arms of Tigray at his command, Theodros gained superiority in arms even over Shewa and the rest of Ethiopia. But his aim was to establish facilities for arms manufacture in Ethiopia rather than obtain weapons from abroad.130 He did, in fact, establish a cannon-making foundry in Gafat, Begemdr, in what is now southern Gonder, coercing European missionaries to make cannon and to train Ethiopians in the art, as described by Dufton.131 This process of coercing missionaries, and the imprisoning of a British Consul, resulted in a very expensive British military expedition to capture Theodros and free the European captives.132 Theodros, who had tried to rush through Ethiopia's modernization, had made so many enemies that he was deserted by most of his retainers, and many of his former followers helped the British expedition. He seems to have trusted in his home-made cannon133 and his mountain fortress of Meqdela, as well as in his army, a small force estimated not to exceed 8,000 men, which faced a much better equipped British army of 42,000 men. During the assault, the first and biggest of his home-made cannon exploded on firing. The others fired, but were ineffective. His army was routed, and his best general, Gebryye, was killed. According to Tekle Tsadq Mekuria,134 Theodros then considered withdrawing from the battle. This would have been possible earlier on, for, had he chosen to use guerilla tactics, the heavy British expedition would have foundered. De Coursac's view is that Theodros naively trusted in his own rather crude firearms technology, which, in objective terms, could not possibly have compared with the refined British artillery. Theodros was succeeded by Emperor Tekle Giorgis (1868-1871), whose rule was too short to count in our present study.

After Tekle Giorgis came Emperor Yohannes (1872-1889). Yohannes seems to have been much better informed than Emperor Theodros about the standard required of firearms. He had been one of the aristocrats disenchanted with Theodros, and he made a pact with the British, providing their expedition with 15,000 kilograms of grain per week and guaranteeing its safety en route in return for a roward.135 As he aspired to the throne anyway, the elimination of Emperor Theodros counted as a reward. When the British expedition left, it gave Yohannes six howitzers, six mortars, 725 smooth-bore muskets, and 130 rifles with 350,000 rounds of ammunition for the small arms. His request for three officers for three months to train his own officers was turned down.136 Other arms were obtained through Mitswa', following the established tradition of the rulers of Tigray. According to Rubenson,137 Yohannes had no more than 6,000 swift-firing rifles. However, this enabled him to defeat Emperor Tekle Giorgis of Lasta and obtain the submission of King Menelik of Shewa.

The awareness in the country as a whole of the dangers from the external world came none too early, as Emperor Yohannes and/or his general, Ras Alula, had to fight a series of battles against the Turks, the Egyptians, and the Italians. Unlike Emperor Theodros, Yohannes was continually conscious of the inferiority of his arms.138 Therefore, he always tried to resolve differences diplomatically; but since the differences arose from the colonial ambitions of the attacking parties, diplomacy usually failed. However, his awareness of the inferiority of his weapons seems to have led him to devise tactics for warfare that took this fact into account, and he and Ras Alula always won. When fighting the Egyptians with their superior artillery power, for example, his attack was so swift and decisive that only 350 of his soldiers were killed, as against 6,000 Egyptian dead and 1,500 prisoners.139 It is therefore perhaps surprising that the only battle he lost, and lost his life in, was with an equally ill-equipped army - that of the Mahdist Dervishes of the Sudan. Like Emperor Theodros, Yohannes was preoccupied with weapons. But his greater realism seems to have robbed him of the somewhat naive ability that Theodros had to dream of his own arms industry. Emperor Theodros's experiment thus vanished without a trace.

Emperor Yohannes's successor, Menelik II (1889-1911) had, while Yohannes was fighting foreign aggressors, been acquiring arms and continuing the large-scale expansion of his kingdom into Oromo-held territory to the south and west. When he ascended the imperial throne, however, Yohannes's erstwhile enemies became his enemies, and he had to go north to Adwa in 1896 to resist an Italian invasion. In retrospect, all the previous accumulation of arms was just as well, as Menelik brought to Adwa 40 cannon, 100,000-110,000 rifles, and an unknown number of larger guns and matching ammunition, all more or less new and modern.140 Assessing the seriousness of the Italian threat, Menelik had in fact ordered 100,000 more rifles and 10,000,000 cartridges from Hamburg, but this was disallowed by the German government. However, the Italians were humiliatingly defeated and both the purchase order by Menelik and the embargo by the German government were shown to have been unnecessary. Menelik obviously understood his need for weapons and how to satisfy it. He also did much to introduce technological innovations, but he did not try to repeat Emperor Theodros's experiment.

After Emperor Menelik 11 came a period (1911-1916) during which the Crown Prince was attempting to have himself crowned. He finally failed, and the throne was occupied by a minor monarch, Empress Zewditu (1916-1929), during whose reign actual power was in the hands of her crown prince, who finally became Emperor Haile Sllasie I (1930-1974). In his reign, Emperor Menelik's policies of modernization were continued, and importation was the source of arms. The Italian aggression that had been checked in Emperor Menelik's time resurfaced during the period of Mussolini's rule in Italy. The embargo by arms-manufacturing powers, which had been imposed on Ethiopia from time to time since the second half of the nineteenth century,141 and had only been relaxed because of Yohannes's and Menelik's successes, was reimposed just as Italy was arming itself with sophisticated modern weapons including tanks, aeroplanes, and poison gas.142 Its revenge for its defeat at Adwa was thus assured. Ethiopia lost and Italy ruled it as a colony for five years amid continuous guerilla activity. If Emperor Theodros's experiment had been continued, at least the guerilla fighters would have been better equipped, even if the conventional war had been lost.

During Emperor Haile Sllasie's time, modern arms were used ruthlessly to suppress opposition, for example in Tigray, Balie, Smyen, and Gojam, but the bulk of the weapons were used against the threat of external aggression.

In 1974, Emperor Haile Sllasie was deposed and a Provisional Military Council took over power. Soon, many opposition groups formed in the country. Though reliable figures are not available, Ethiopia is now said to be the best armed country in Black Africa. These arms were used for defence during the Somali incursion of 1977. Ever since then, the importation of weapons into the country has been growing at an alarming rate. The country is riddled with warring groups, all well armed and well endowed with fighting men and women. The country, especially the northern part, is being devastated.

The Extent of Adoption and Adaptation of Firearms Technology

As soon as firearms had been introduced into the country, the emperors at least saw their importance. They all wanted better and more firearms, but this was expressed by different emperors in different ways. Emperor Sertse Dngl (15641597) was intimidated by his own governor of the Red Sea area, Bahre Negasi Yishaq, who befriended the attacking Ottoman Turks. The Turks gave Yishaq some cannon, and he sent cannonballs as a gift to Sertse Dngl, implying that he now had a new and much better armed master, the Pacha of Mitswa. Sertse Dngl was so affected by this that he kept one of the balls with the ark (tabot) in the chapel of his court and used to pray daily holding the ball.143 Because of this, he sought allies in Europe. He saw that Spain was now the main European power, and, instead of cultivating his existing Portuguese links, he wrote to the King of Spain requesting technicians who could make cannons, muskets, and gunpowder.144 Emperor Zedngl (1597-1607), who succeeded him, repeated this request and proposed also that his son marry a Spanish princess in order to draw the two countries closer together.145

Even a number of the rulers in the Era of the Princes hoped to obtain technicians who would start an arms industry, as well as other industries, in the country and train Ethiopians.146

These efforts invariably failed. This is perhaps partly because "most requests for craftsmen when unheeded." 147 The major reason, however, is social. The early firearms were rather simple and any society with an established iron-working tradition should have been able to make them itself, and then build up to more sophisticated versions later on. The fact that the Axumites (300 BC to AD 900) used iron effectively can be seen from their remains in Axum and elsewhere. The literature makes various references to artisans coming from the Biete Israel, or black Jews, as they are often referred to.148 For a long time, the Biete Israel were competitors to the Christian highlanders for hegemony, and wars were frequently waged between the two sides.149 After they had been repeatedly defeated, Emperor Yohannes I (1667-1682) decreed that they should not live in the same villages as Christians.150

Quirin151 traces the process which marginalized the Biete Israel, changing them from a mainstream farming nation to artisans and finally to an endogamous inferior caste. Their land was first taken away and given to Christians, unless, of course, they became Christians themselves. Lack of land then forced them to become artisans, especially blacksmiths, goldsmiths, potters, builders, weavers, and rug-makers. The rise of the city of Gonder in their vicinity in the sixteenth century stimulated these crafts, especially that of masonry. The importance of the artisans to the city raised their status to tolerable levels, though they were still considered inferior to the Christians and Muslims. The decline of Gonder in the Era of the Princes denied artisans employment, except as blacksmiths making and maintaining the agricultural implements of the farming communities. This forced their dispersal into all of northern Ethiopia and induced an endogamy among blacksmiths scattered in the countryside, and within the small remnant communities of goldsmiths and silversmiths in the remains of former towns, mainly Gonder, Axum, and Adwa. The resulting almost total identification of the Biete Israel with blacksmiths and their endogamy prepared the ground for their typecasting.

It seems that the association of the forge with supernatural powers is old. In the acts of Abba Samuel of the Monastery of Wegeg, who dedicated his life to stamping out the pagan cult of Desek, the saint is said to have confronted, single-handed and armed only with a cross, an army led by the Desek cult leader and consisting of 400 soldiers with spears, shields, and swords, 300 with bows and arrows, and, finally, 300 blacksmiths carrying bellows and hammers.152 The Biete Israel, therefore, identified both as blacksmiths and as members of a different religion, besides being scattered over a large area, ended up as a despised endogamous caste.

Given this socio-economic setting of the workers in iron, it is clear that mainstream Ethiopians could not be involved in the making or even mending of firearms. Nor did the ever-dwindling and defeated Biete Israel community now reduced to a few villages north of Gonder city and a few others in northeastern Gonder and western Tigray- have either the resources or the political motivation to be come involved.

This notwithstanding, that the Ethiopian blacksmiths had the technology to make firearms is seen from the fact that they have always smelted their own iron.153 Dufton154 tells us that it was the standard Ethiopian bellows, primitive though they looked to him, that were used in Emperor Theodros's foundry in Gafat that was started by the conscripted European missionaries. The idea of a mould for pouring molten metal into is well known, as silversmiths and goldsmiths have always used it in Ethiopia. The ingredients for a firearms-making technology were thus there. The role of the conscripted missionaries, in fact, seems primarily to have been to induce the Emperor to give the necessary resources, as well as the social, political, and, most important, the psychological inputs, to harness the incipient Ethiopian technology. This view is based on the fact that the conscripted missionaries had neither the training nor the equipment to make the cannons requested by Emperor Theodros.155 All the metal-working technicians and equipment came from the Ethiopian side, no doubt from the traditional blacksmiths.

According to an informant in Tigray, well versed in his community lore, in the reign of "King Inenay" and "Ayte Baskimos" (these have not been found in the existing historical records), before the time of Ras Michael Shul (recorded as an important historical figure from 1744 to 1771), a short musket, called quat, was believed to have been made locally. Though the quat was probably imported rather than locally made, its maintenance, and The manufacture of the necessary gunpowder and balls, as well as the means to fire it, were all done by local smiths.

The quat, which was the length of an arm, was essentially a tube with a handle and a kindling mechanism. A piece of cloth was pushed into the tube, followed by some gunpowder, followed by the bullet. More cloth was then packed into the tube. The kindling mechanism consisted of a hole on the lower part of the tube, through which access to the lowermost cloth layer was possible. The cloth was lighted through this hole, kindling The gunpowder and resulting in a shot being fired.

That gunpowder was locally manufactured has been recorded by visitors to Ethiopia. Emperor Theodros's army made its own gunpowder and bullets.156 According to Rubenson,157 these were inferior to imported ammunition. This is hardly surprising, since in order to bring about improvements in bullets, a functioning and developing metallurgical tradition is necessary. Even the inferior quality that was produced was made possible because its production method was not tied to the blacksmith taboos.

The gunpowder was mined. Informants from Tigray have described the following procedure. The stone that produced it was called gunfal, which was found in, among other places, Segli, Bamba, and May Misham, all in the Adwa area. A white powder was found stuck to the stone. The powder was scraped off with a sharp blade, and the powdery scrapings were boiled in water. On cooling, the gunpowder floated on top; this was lifted off and dried. The resulting powder was mixed with charred wood -either from the widely distributed trees gnchb (Euphorbia tirucalli) and quiha (Salix subserrata) or from the equally widespread shrub called tch'ndog (Otostegia integrifolia) - and sulphur, which came from the Dalol Depression in the east. The gonpowder was then ready for use. The balls for shooting were made either from lead or, in the absence of lead, from a stone called shashmme, which can be easily scraped down to the desired dimensions. If the object was the hunting of wild fowl (e.g. guinea-fowl), sand was used instead of shashmme.

At least since the latter part of the nineteenth century, the firearms coming into Ethiopia have required pre-manufactured bullets and gunpowder, with an igniting mechanism in a shell, ready for striking and firing. In The days when the quat was used, fire had to be provided from outside, and there were no matches. People then used a flint ('mni blad) to create sparks, which were used to light a thread, and then a piece of cloth, and then something more lasting, for example a candle, which kept The fire going until the end of the long process of repeated loading and shooting.

Because of the poor state of metallurgical technology, the shell, originally imported as ready to fire, could not be made but was kept and reused. The part of the shell to be hit with the striking mechanism of the gun was hammered back into shape, a match head was put in the bottom, and the shell was filled with gunpowder to its original level and capped with a bullet made from lead or shashmme.

According to informants, before The availability of matches the use of a very slow burning candle made from the latex of cheqente (Ficus sycomorus or similar fig species) and a piece of thread improved the firing technology, making the repeated use of flint unnecessary. Salt158 reports the use of The tree but he calls it chekumt and says that it was the inner bark that was stripped, dried thoroughly and "used as match [fuse] for their firearms." Either procedure could produce a candle whose slow-burning component is the latex.

From what we have seen so far, we can conclude that the existing traditional geological and chemical knowledge was enough to make gunpowder, or at least to understand and import such a technology.

According to Merid,159 the social status of artisans in the Axumite period of Ethiopia (300 BC to AD 900) was good. He attributes the fall in their status in The Middle Ages to the conquest of the highlands of Ethiopia by a pastoralist or agrarian society, which subjugated the urban society based on artisans and merchants and regarded them as inferior, relegating them to a very low caste. The merchants, who of necessity lived in the coastal lowlands, were not routinely encountered and thus escaped with a lower level of stigmatization. Whether the relegation of artisans in the highlands to a despised and feared caste arose in this way, or simply as a result of the collapse of commerce, and thus also of crafts-manship, resulting in the isolation of Ethiopia following the rise of Islam and Arab nationalism, it is certain that such an abused caste of artisans as existed in Ethiopia in the Middle Ages could not have achieved technological excellence. Though culturally quite peripheral to medieval Christian Ethiopia, the Gurage area on the southern part of central Ethiopia had, and still has, perhaps the best-built houses.160 Because "Fuga [the artisan caste] rituals and beliefs, apparently, have been completely merged with the religious organization of the Gurage," 161 their position in society is not as precarious as in the rest of Ethiopia, even though they are still believed to possess evil supernatural powers.162 This would support our view that it is the alienation of the artisans that stunted the growth of Ethiopian technology.

If the artisan caste failed to develop its technological capability because it had neither the resources nor the will, why did the establishment not harness it with its own will and resources, as indeed Emperor Theodros did (although he thought it was the capabilities of the conscripted European missionaries that he was using)?

As we have already seen, the establishment had, in relation to the peoples living round it, more than enough imported arms. There was thus no incentive for the members of the establishment to work closely with the despised and feared artisans, or even to think that they could be the source of such highly prized objects as firearms. In addition, it must be remembered that it requires foresight and long-range planning to programme and supervise the work of an unwilling caste. That it could be done can be seen from the technological achievements of the Jimma Kingdom, which, though its independent history was brief (1800-1884),163 made it possible for crafts to prosper, for excellent wide roads to be built, and for good bridges to be constructed, simply because the organization of the state was conducive to this kind of activity. To that end the craftsmen enjoyed, as did those in Emperor Theodros's foundries in Gafat, royal protection and supervision.164

The arms imported from abroad were often not of good quality. Salt,165 for example, states that the weapons brought in were rejects from the Bombay government. Nevertheless, in an area where they were the only arms available, they could not be compared to better ones and they had to suffice. It was only in cases of armed foreign aggression, for example when Emperor Yohannes had to fight the Egyptians, that the inferiority of the imported arms became clear. By then it was too late to remedy the absence of technological know-how by encouraging artisans to make local substitutes.

Even if some rulers in the past had wished to organize and support artisans in developing a firearms-making tradition, as indeed some probably did if the information about quat is correct, it could not have worked in the prevailing political atmosphere. As every royal chronicle attests, Ethiopian wars have always involved pillage. Emperor Theodros, in fact, burnt his own capital city on his way to Meqdela to fight the British!166 Each of the many wars of succession to the throne resulted in pillage and wanton burning. This happened primarily because the weakening of the empire after Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi encouraged rebellions and challenges to the throne. The succession became peaceful only after Emperor Menelik - but pillage to subdue rebellion continued. Even though there is no precise information on the matter, Emperor Theodros's foundries were probably destroyed when he burut his capital. In such a setting, it is not possible to built a lasting technological tradition. It is, in fact, a testimony to the endurance of man that any technological tradition at all survived in Ethiopia. One can only agree with Merid167 that Ethiopia's "failure to develop or adopt better technology [can be attributed] to the failure of its ruling classes to develop traditions and institutions for the secure ownership and transmission of property and offices." By the time Emperor Menelik came to power and the wars of succession stopped, the armaments industry in the outside world had progressed so far that the indigenous technological capabilities had become irrelevant. Sophisticated technologies had to be introduced de novo, coupled with a commensurate educational system. Since Menelik's time, that, in fact, has been the strategy adopted, though, for various reasons that we need not discuss here, it has met with little success.

Though firearms production technology has failed to take root in Ethiopia, firearms quickly became a part of its life. As pointed out earlier, the Ethiopian peasant has largely been influenced by the tradition of the chewa, the army class. We have also seen that in the nineteenth century, the people of Gonder and Tigray, though not those of Shewa, could own their own firearms. The northern Ethiopian peasant thus soon became attached to the rifle. In the northern regions of Ethiopia and some parts of Shewa, even in the second half of this century, every male's aspiration has been to own a rifle, and it is said that, at the birth of a son, the father buys a rifle for the baby even before he buys clothing! It seems that in the latter part of the nineteenth century, even the peasants of Shewa were allowed to own firearms, and the peasant of Shewa is as attached to firearms as the peasant of Tigray or Gonder.

Human Rights in Traditional Ethiopia

Medieval Ethiopian society was divided into social strata and castes.168 The ideology was one of frank exploitation. The ruling class, headed by the Emperors, had unlimited rights to exploit or suppress - in short, to treat according to whim - the serfs and slaves. But some of the minor strata and castes had recognized rights. Bahry169 tells us that only the aristocracy and the chewa, a class of soldiers, were expected to fight in battles, all others being exempted. Members of the caste of professional beggars could praise or revile any individual with impunity. They often used this right to make apt social and political comments.

As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, travellers to Ethiopia remarked on the destruction caused by armies. De Almeida170 comments that the troops were "worse than locusts." We are told that Emperor Amde Tsion (1312-1342) "bound the governor of Saraka and laid waste his country." 171 The invasion by Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim El Ghazi and, following him, the Oromo migration did very little to change this situation. But the Oromo were much more democratic,172 and it is obvious that, once normal life returned, the people living under them enjoyed greater individual human rights than those under the imperial establishment. Human rights in the parts of Ethiopia unoccupied by the Oromo continued to be grossly violated.

Emperor Yohannes I forbad Muslims and Biete Israel to live in the same villages as Christians.173 Emperor Iyasu I (1682-1706) forbad women to ride mules and horses astride, stipulating that they could ride only with both legs dangling on one side.174 Dejazmatch Wubie, who ruled Smyen and Tigray in the first half of the nineteenth century, had both legs of a man amputated for treason.175 Even a figurehead of an Emperor during the Era of the Princes had both the feet of a thief cut off and the rest of him dumped in a street in Gonder.176 During the reign of Emperor Bekkafa (1721-1730), the bodies of executed political criminals are reported to have been stripped naked and left lying in the streets of Gonder to be eaten by scavengers at night.177 In the nineteenth century, villages were raided, or defeated in war, and the people enslaved; or slavery was imposed as a punishment for crimes, including theft.178 According to Gobat,179 Biete Israel and Muslims were seen as sorcerers. Law enforcement in cases of complaint by an injured party was the onus of the injured party. Gobat180 reports that in Smyen an old woman was chained to her brother's murderer awaiting justice. During the Gonder period, Welqayt, to the north of Gonder, was a place of imprisonment or exile for political prisoners.181 These are all gross violations of human rights as we now conceive them.

There have also been institutions and situations conducive to respect for human rights. Muslims and Christians are said to have been living together182 in spite of Emperor Yohannes l's decree separating them. Slaves are reported to have been well treated and addressed as equals, and never to have been sold, though they could be given away.183 They could even achieve high political office.184 If a man got into serious debt, he could become a monk, and his debts would be automatically cleared; if he gave up monastic life, however, his debts would be revived.185 Battles, though frequent, were apparently carefully fought to minimize killing. Even in battle, a fighter would kill only if he knew whom he was killing; he would not kill indiscriminately for fear of a vendetta by surviving relatives.186 A defeated enemy was protected by tradition from being killed. 187 Ethiopians were said to be kind to animals.188 Churches, on the whole, were considered as sanctuaries during pillage, where people could shelter with their belongings.189 There also were specified churches where criminals, including political offenders, could find refuge as long as they stayed within church grounds. Examples of sanctuaries are Waldbba,190 Holy Trinity of Atsbi,191 and Mekane Yesus of Debre Tabor.192 There is even a report of a whole village, that of Qddus Giorgis Feres Sebber in Smyen, which was immune from pillage because tradition has it that St George, the patron saint of the village, deals severely with any soldier that dares try to pillage it.193 Political and social commentaries, usually in verse, were allowed at funerals and weddings, and no ruler took reprisals out of offence.

Human Rights and Firearms in Ethiopia

In the Era of the Princes, authority devolved into the hands of progressively smaller and smaller units of the country, each headed by a complete autocrat. The spread of firearms increased the seriousness of human rights violations when compared with traditional violations of human rights. The reunification of the country in the second half of the nineteenth century might have been expected to improve the observance of human rights. But the improvements in firearms, transportation infrastructure, and telecommunications have enabled rulers to retain a firm grip over most of the country, whereas in the past they could only control small areas. As a result, those in power have usually continued the tradition of ruthless exploitation and repression.

With the arrival of firearms, the traditional pillaging became even more horrendous. Influenced by misconceptions regarding "modernization," the armed state or rebel group, or even individual, has disregarded even the few safeguards that existed, so that now commentaries at funerals and weddings are muted, and often totally suppressed. Churches are no longer accepted as sanctuaries; even the churches that had charters to that effect194 have lost that status. Armies travel long distances and are no longer circumspect about whom they kill; since they are drawn from all over the country, the fear of identification and later vendetta195 no longer has any meaning for them. The civil wars have cost so many lives that Gobat's196 statement that Ethiopians would rather spare than kill the defeated now rings hollow. The one political prison of Welqayt has now been replaced by many, with the various protagonist groups in the civil wars each imprisoning their captives, if they have not already killed them.

But perhaps the worst violation of human rights is in the negation, through the use of firearms, of the advantages that would have accrued from other technologies. Respect for human rights cannot be realized without technological and economic development.

Development cannot occur without peace and stability. The continuous disturbances of the last four centuries, the causes of which we have examined, have stunted the country's development in general and held back technological development in the particular fields basic to the realization of human rights, for example food production, transportation, and health care. The use of firearms in Ethiopia today has brought about a social climate unconducive to the realization of human rights. The last three decades, starting after the federation of Eritrea, have witnessed the proliferation of firearms and their use on an ever-increasing scale. The civil war now being waged between the government and the main opposition groups has reached such a pitch that the government has been forced to use over 50 per cent of the country's meagre budget just for the war effort. Most of this resource goes for the purchase of firearms and other modern war technologies.

The economic situation in Ethiopia today is such that millions of Ethiopians are suffering from inadequate nourishment, with a good proportion of these facing recurrent famine. The civil war is tying down a significant proportion of the economically most productive members of the population. They are absorbed into the war machine, which either kills or disables large numbers. These people could have been used to alleviate the famine and to create better economic conditions, which would have provided the environment for an overall improvement in human rights. The other non-human resources deployed for the war could also have been used gainfully for economic reconstruction and development. Unfortunately, the machinery of war is also fed by the self-interest of the developed countries that supply the armaments. The priority accorded to the acquisition and use of firearms has diverted attention from the acquisition of productive technologies. This is retrogressive development, which, in turn, means retrogression in the realization of human rights.

Traditional work of women, science and technology, and human rights


This section aims at examining the often neglected area of the position of women as workers in a traditional agricultural society and the impact upon their workloads and their human rights of such agricultural technologies as have been introduced into traditional societies in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. We are not here dealing with sophisticated technologies, as some of the other studies in this volume do, but with simple and basic technologies, some of them inherited from the distant past and some introduced in modern times. A study of such technologies in a third-world agricultural society is no doubt essential to an overall study of the impact of technology on human rights. Moreover, by focusing on the position of women we see in better perspective the overall impact of technology on the entire society.

Such a study is also important in that it provides essential background information for planning the introduction of new technologies in a manner that will be least damaging to human rights and most conducive to their furtherance in that society. Basic information regarding life in a traditional rural society, such as is contained in this chapter, is often unavailable to technological planners, who may in the absence of such information tend to formulate plans without due regard for this basic background.

The United Nations Development Programme (1980) concludes that wherever the technological working conditions of a job traditionally carried out by women are improved, this work is taken away by men. Despite the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, drafted in 1979,197 it is the authors' contention that modern science and technology has had a minimal effect on the betterment of human rights for the vast majority of women in the third world. The following brief overview of the working conditions for women in Ethiopia is presented as material to justify or refute our contention. It concentrates on the most fundamental activities of the woman: caring for her home and family, and assisting in agricultural production.

It may be observed preliminarily that the Protein-Calorie Advisory Group (PAG) of the United Nations198 states that "it must be considered a human right of women to be able to fulfil their reproductive functions in ways that imply no detrimental effect to themselves or their offspring, nor interfere with their other roles and their own personal development." The main consequence of this human right of women is the privilege of the woman to have a family (male partner and children) and the obligation, together with her partner, to look after the members of the family so that they have enough food of adequate nutritional value and are healthy and cleanly and comfortably clothed and housed. When the female and male partners look after the family, it makes sense that there should be a division of labour between them. It also makes sense that this division of labour should keep the mother as near the home as possible, so that she can easily meet the biological requirements and human right of the infants to be breast-fed. In early human societies the men would undertake the jobs that require leaving home for extended periods. Women would gather and/or produce food to process it so that it was ready to eat.199 They would also exchange or trade in the immediate vicinity of the home in order to compensate for deficiencies in food and other articles, while men did the hunting, distant trading, and other jobs that involved being at a distance from their homes.200 This division of labour became more specialized with the development of agriculture, but these specializations were complementary and were not intended, a priori, to cause sex-based economic stratification.201 In areas where hoe culture was practised, specialization of function by sex was not based on the type of agricultural operation, except for forest clearing which was done by men, and both men and women did essentially the same operations, even if they specialized in the crops they grew. For example, in traditional Ghana, men planted and harvested yams while women grew maize and vegetables.202

But, with the integration of Africa into the modern world economy, the resulting emphasis on cash crops disrupted this complementarity.203 It was these crops that attracted foreign earnings and their importance to the national income meant that whatever modern agricultural technology was imported tended to be devoted to those crops. In the hoe-culture areas, the production of cash crops became men's responsibility, while women were saddled with producing all the family's food. The women thus ended up having to do much more agricultural work than the men.204 Technology thus created an imbalance not often perceived in the distribution of labour between men and women in the agricultural sector. It was thus that what Boserap205 calls the female farming system was created. Most of sub-Saharan Africa falls into this category. In the areas of plough culture, for example in Ethiopia, clearing fields of woody plants and ploughing were strictly men's responsibility.

In most of the areas under plough culture, men and women worked together, with women assisting in weeding and harvesting. With technological innovations that made weeding and harvesting easier to perform, agriculture became more and more the responsibility of men. This produced what Boserup206 calls a male farming system. Ethiopia is one of the countries least incorporated into the world economy because, for the last five centuries, it has successfully isolated itself in order to avoid domination. For this reason, its agricultural systems have not been skewed by the effect of cash crops to the same extent as those of other African countries, its exports being essentially produced along traditional lines.

The prevailing system is one of plough culture, but much female labour input is needed in weeding and harvesting. A farm management survey carried out by the Institute of Agricultural Rescarch,207 for example, found that in Bako, in western Ethiopia, the number of hours of work on the farm averaged 160 per month for the husband as against 63 for the wife. The share of women in agricultural production probably varies from area to area, but this variation has not been studied.

There is also a strictly hoe-based agricultural system in Ethiopia, for example, among the Anwak and the Nuer in the Gambella lowlands in south-west Ethiopia.208 A related form of agriculture, one in which two or more men using stout, iron-tipped, and forked digging sticks drive through into the sod and then turn it over, is found in the enset (Ensete ventricosum) growing highlands of south-western Ethiopia.209 In the hoe-culture areas, cereals (maize and sorghum) are the main crops, and in the digging-stick culture areas, root crops (taro, coleus, sweet potato) and perennial crops (enset, coffee) are cultivated. Usually, some plough culture is found mixed with the digging-stick culture, but not with the hoe culture. Again because cash crops have not distorted the hoe and digging-stick cultures, the production of food is the joint responsibility of both husband and wife. For this reason, it would be inappropriate to call it a female agricultural system. It seems therefore, that though Boserup's (1970) classification of agriculture into "women" and "men" systems is useful for the world as a whole, it breaks down in Ethiopia, where both men and women complement each other in food production.

This is not to imply, however, that the Ethiopian woman is not overworked. Besides helping in agricultural production, she has to process and cook the food and feed the family, fetch water and firewood, keep the compound, the house, and the family clean, and do many other household chores. She also carries out the transactions in the nearby markets and often also does some handicraft work, especially spinning and basketwork. Two of the authors grew up in a peasant family in northern Ethiopia and the third author has worked in agricultural research for many years in Ethiopia, so they know this phenomenon intimately (though they have also benefited from the knowledge of others210 and collected primary data through interviews).

Women in Agricultural Production in Ethiopia

About half of the area of Ethiopia is settled by pastoralists. In discussing the role of women in agriculture, therefore, we will look only at the cultivated half. Even there, our emphasis will be on the dominant plough culture, with only a generalized look at the hoe and digging-stick cultures.

In the areas of plough culture, women, together with children and teenagers, clean fields of uprooted plants and other debris before they are sown, at least when what is being sown is tef. They also weed and carry harvested produce for stooking by a threshing ground. When not involved in ploughing, the men also help in weeding. Men plough, harvest (using sickles), stook the harvest and thresh and winnow. Women and children help the men with the harvesting, and male children also help with threshing.

The removal of uprooted plants during sowing is relatively simple and does not call for implements, though a rake is helpful if the soil is not too moist. Weeding is a heavier job and, unlike ploughing, is not assisted even by implements, let alone by animal power. Because the grains grown are mostly small (tef, barley, wheat, finger millet, linseed, niger seed, lentils, peas, broad beans, and chickpeas), and, perhaps more important, because technological innovation is controlled by the men, sowing is by broadcasting. In the absence of row planting, the women and children cannot even use their hoes (these are used for backyard gardening), except in fields of maize and sorghum, to speed up weeding. Harvesting is primarily the work of men, with women and children only helping. The sickle has, therefore, been developed to ease the mechanical removal of the plant from the field.

It is interesting that for the activities that women carry out on their own at home seed-cleaning, grinding, and cooking - technologies have been developed to increase the speed and efficiency of the operations. The women are totally in charge of these activities and, understandably, they have developed the technologies they need. In weeding and the cleaning of fields, their work inputs have to fit around what the men do, and the initiative for technological development is taken out of their hands. It is noteworthy also that technologies developed by women for seed-cleaning at home have been adopted by men in seed-cleaning at the threshing ground. It is, in fact, not unlikely that these seed-cleaning items of equipment were developed by women when they were fully in charge of food production, before men came into it with the plough.

An important factor in assessing the impact on human rights of any form of employment is the input in terms of time. There is no study from Ethiopia known to the authors on the time input into agricultural production broken down by sex. But we have data given by Friedrich et al.211 on total labour input into agricultural production. These data were collected before the land reform and on the whole they refer to farmers with relatively large parcels of land. The land reform abolished landlessness and to do this reduced the amount of land held by individuals. If we take two hectares as an average present-day holding, we can scale down the figures. As the peak weeding season is in July-August, we can assume that the man would be too occupied with ploughing at this time to help much with weeding; we would therefore be more or less correct in attributing the labour put into weeding to women, assisted by children whenever they are available. Nowadays most children go to school, and we can thus assume that harvesting is done by the husband, with the wife helping with perhaps a quarter of the workload. Men usually go over fields of sorghum with the plough, with the furrows spaced some distance apart before the internodes elongate. This is done to control weeds, and it has thus been categorized as weeding.

In coffee production, the digging and slashing, which we are categorizing as weeding, are done by men, and harvesting by women. We can thus use the data given by Friedrich et al.212 to construct table I for Bako, Holeta, and Mojo, which are all grain-producing areas in central Ethiopia, and for Jimma in western Ethiopia, which is primarily a coffee-producing area with some grain. After the revolution, the production of grain for food was greatly increased in the Jimma area, and the situation now probably approaches that of Bako.

From table 1, we can see that in the medium rainfall areas of Bako and Holeta, the work of men and women in agricultural production is more or less equally distributed. In the low-rainfall area of Mojo, weeding seems to be a smaller problem than in the others and the work of women is accordingly reduced. The workload of women in the high-rainfall area of Jimma is heavier than that of men owing to coffee harvesting. This is the nearest situation in Ethiopia to that noted for many other African countries,213 where the work of women is increased owing to the introduction of cash crops. But while in the other countries the increase is caused by the relegation to women of the responsibility for food production, in Ethiopia this has happened because it used to be the women's job to harvest the small amounts of coffee required for home use before it became such an important cash crop.

Even though there are no time-budget data on the digging-stick culture of south-western Ethiopia, the description of the agricultural system214 convinces one that in that system also men and women share the responsibility for agricultural production approximately equally. The impression one gets215 of the small strictly hoe-culture parts of Ethiopia is also one of agricultural production for subsistence jointly undertaken by both sexes.

This is not, however, to imply that women are not exploited by men. There are many other activities needed to maintain the family in which men are not involved, but which put a heavy burden on the women. These include food preparation, including the fetching of fuel and water, and keeping the compound, house, and family clean.

Table 1. Labour input into agricultural production by a husband and wife (usually assisted by children in the off-school months of July and August)

Work input in man-days






















Field clearinga









(for tef)























































a. Sowing takes place during the last ploughing. As the man ploughs over what he has sown, his wife follows, piking up uprooted plants, at least when the grain to be sown is tef This figure is thus the same as the number of man-hours needed for the last ploughing/sowing. b. This is in addition to the last ploughing, which, in this case, is for transplanting chili pepper seedlings. Source: Friedrich et al. (note 207).

Food Preparation

In the plough-culture areas of Ethiopia, the threshing and winnowing of grain on the threshing ground and the bringing of the harvest to the homestead with pack animals is the responsibility of the men. In some areas men also build storage facilities, while in others the women do so; often both are involved, with the men making outdoor structures and the women indoor containers. The responsibility of the women also covers the year-long budgeting of family grain consumption, as well as the further, more careful, cleaning and grinding of grain, and fermenting and cooking food. Grain sales for cash are usually decided upon jointly.

During the agricultural production season, and often even at other times, the working day for the woman starts "when the cock crows," which is about 3 a.m. She grinds grain using a grinding stone until it gets light enough for her to go to the river to fetch water. Then she returns and continues to grind while cooking lunch, which takes one to two hours, depending on whether she is using the partially pre-cooked shro or some other ingredient. If it is a working day coming after one or three successive working days, cooking will include the baking of the flat leavened bread, 'njera. She bakes enough for two days, which, for a family of five to seven, takes about 2½ to 3½ hours. Then she cleans the house. Otherwise, she goes to the field to help with the agricultural work at about 8-9 a.m., taking lunch for her husband. She returns home at about 5-6 p.m. to cook the evening meal, and everybody except her goes to bed by about 9 p.m. If there are milch cows, every other day she shakes the accumulated curdled milk until the butter separates out. Alternatively, she may do this early in the morning.

If the grain she has is maize or sorghum, it is now that she wet grinds what she had dry ground previously, and makes it into a dough ready for baking in the morning. In dry grinding, maize and sorghum are simply broken into chips, which are sieved and winnowed of their husks to clean them. Then they are soaked for about 36 hours and wet ground into a paste for making batter. With all other grain, the dry grinding produces a flour which is sieved and, in some areas, warmed up on a hot plate and then mixed with water to form a batter.

Generally, up to half the days in the month are religious holidays or weekends and thus are relatively free of work. During the more minor of these holidays, besides cooking, the woman cleans the grain ready for grinding, washes clothes, and cleans the house. In the late evening she may also wet grind sorghum or maize. Unless her grain is maize, sorghum, or barley, immediately after baking she makes the batter for fermenting for the next baking. The batter from wet-ground sorghum and maize is made the evening before the baking morning, and the batter from barley needs to be kept for at least three whole days with daily kneading.

During the off-season, she has to prepare spices and an important component of cooking, the shro, which is a partly pre-cooked and ground mixture of field peas, broad beans, and chickpeas to make food preparation easier. Once a week, during a working day, she has to hammer her grinding mill to ensure that its surfaces are rough enough for effective grinding. All these activities (see table 2) overload the woman during the agricultural season, or any season for that matter. Table 3 gives an estimate of the work a woman must do in a working day including her involvement in agricultural production. Because she has to bake bread ('njera) every other day, the schedule is arranged in a two-day module, but since this module is disrupted by religious holidays she must grind grain in sufficient quantities to safeguard against such disruption. However, as already pointed out, wet grinding has to be done the evening before the baking morning.

A look at table 3 shows us that the peasant housewife does not get enough time to sleep. When she has to prepare food based on maize or sorghum, she may sleep for only three-and-a-half hours. This seemed so incredible that the authors checked this point against several independently collected sets of data, and the information is correct. Obviously, without the religious holidays making it possible for her to sleep longer (even then only seven hours if the following day is a working day) to recuperate, she could not go on. There are between five and eight religious holidays a month when agricultural activities and grinding and pounding are not allowed. These are the 7th, 12th, 21st, 27th and 29th days of the 30-day Ethiopian month in Tigray and Eritrea, and the 5th, 7th, 12th, 19th, 21st, 23rd, 27th, and 29th in the highlands of northern Shewa. Saturday and Sunday are also non-working days. Besides these, a village will have one or two additional minor saints' days which have been raised to a major status for local religious reasons, for example, because they are patron saints of the village or the family. If women work as hard as table 3 shows, it is important to know both the number of working days per month and the number of working days that occur in succession. Table 4 has been prepared to show this for both highland northern Shewa and Tigray and Eritrea. In making this fable, the one or two additional religious non-working days specific to the community or the family have been left out.

Table 2. Time requirement for processing enough food to last a family of five to seven people for one weeka

Target of activity


Total time required (hrs)


Hammering (2)b



Cleaning (1.2 x 3.5); grinding (3.5 x 3.5); sieving(0.3 x 3.5), warming flour on hot plate, and making thick batter with cold water (0.5 x 3.5); thinning batter and baking (2.6 x 3.5)



Cleaning (1.8 x 3.5); dry grinding (1.8 x 3.5); cleaning after grinding (I x 3.5); wet grinding after 36 hours of soaking (2.9 x 3.5); making batter (boiling a quarter of it, mixing the whole into batter and leaving for the night; or else warming the whole thick dough in portions on hot plate and thinning and leaving for the night) (0.5 x 3.5); or else thorough kneading (2.75 x 3.5), thinning to batter and baking (2.9 x 3.5)

39.2 or 46.0


Cleaning (0.8 x 3.5); dry grinding (3.0 x 3.5); wet grinding as in sorghum (3.5 x 3.5); making batter as in sorghum (0.6 x 3.5); thinning batter and baking(3 x 3.5)


Finger millet

Cleaning (1.25 x 3.5); grinding (2.45 x 3.5); sieving and making batter as in sorghum (0.6 x 3.5); thinning batter and baking (3 x 3.5)



Cleaning (1.25 x 3.5); dehusking with mortar (0.67 x 3.5); grinding (6.4 x 3.5); making thick dough and kneading (0.5 x 3.5); 2 further daily kneading (2 x 0.5 x 3.5); thinning to batter with warm water and immediate baking (3 x 3.5)


Free-threshing barley

Used only for snacks and for raised bread on special occasions. Does not figure in routine food preparation.

Wheat for leavened bread

Cleaning (I x 3.5); polishing (0.5 x 3.5); dry grinding (4 x 3.5); sieving (0.5 x 3.5); making a dough and partial cooking by boiling (I x 3.5); kneading after 3 hours (I x 3.5); further after 3 more hours(1 x 3.5); baking (3.5 x 3.5)

43 75

Wheat for unleavened bread

Cleaning (I x 3.5); polishing (0.5 x 3.5); dry grinding (4 x 3.5); sieving (0.5 x 3.5); kneading thoroughly and baking (5.5 x 3.5)


a. This assumes that bread is made out of one of the grains only, and that there are three or four bakings in a week. The time needed to fetch water and firewood is not included.

b. Figures in parentheses denote time required.

Table 3. A two-day modular routine of a housewife in the agricultural season, with the second day "idealized" into a religious "non-working" day. The routine does not include activities carried out once a week or less (e.g. hammering the grinding stone). There is some variation in the order of doing things, but this is the most adhered-to schedule

3a. Working-day routine (every day to 18.00 hours)

Dry grinding

Fetching water

Cooking and grinding/ dough making

Agricultural work

Gathering firewood






3b. Working-day routine (after 18.00 hours; differs according to grain being processed)

Sleeping time preceding a


Cooking and grinding

Wet or dry grinding


working day









23.30-5. 00







Finger millet


20. 00-22. 00

22.00-5. 00

22.00-3. 00




22.30-5. 00







a. Dehusking, subsequent cleaning, grinding, and sieving is included in grinding.

3c. Religious "non-working"-day routine


Going to church

Fetching water


Making new dough











































10.30-13.00 or 7.00-12.30

13.00-14.00 or -


Table 4. Total number of working days per month, and number of uninterrupted successive working days per month, in northern highland Shewa and Tigray/Eritreaa

No. of "non-working" days

Batches of uninterrupted working days

1st day of month








3x4; 1x3

5x2; 4x1; 3x1; 1x1




5x2; 4x1; 2x1; 1x2

5x2; 4x2; 1x1




4x1; 3x1; 2x1; 1x6

4x1; 3x1; 2x4; 1x3




3x1; 2x4; 1x3

4x2; 3x1; 2x2; 1x1




4x3; 3x1; 1x1

5x3; 4x1




5x1; 4x1; 3x1; 1x5

5X1; 4x1; 3x2; 1x3




3x1; 2x2; 1x8

3x3; 2x2; 1x3

a. Note that when the end of a month is a working day, any other working days successive to it from the following month have been included in computing the batches of uninterrupted working days.

Because of the seven-day week and the exactly 30-day month, if a given month begins on a Sunday, the seventh month after it again begins on Sunday. Tallying the frequency of uninterrupted successive working days from table 4 will give us a precise picture of the strain the peasant woman undergoes in a crop-growing season.

From table 5 we can see that the Tigrayan woman has about one-third of her working days occurring consecutively for five days. At any rate, about three-quarters (77.5 per cent) of her working days come in batches of three or more successive days. The most arduous crops in food processing are sorghum, barley, and maize. Maize is not important in the Tigrayan and Eritrean diet, except occasionally along the northern part of the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment. But sorghum and barley are very important in many parts of Ethiopia, sorghum being the main cereal at altitudes below 1,700 m and barley above 2,500 m. The Shewan peasant woman has only about one-tenth (13.6 per cent) of her working days occurring consecutively for five days, and even those working days that come in three or more successive batches add up to only just over half (59.9 per cent). She is thus subjected to fewer periods of peak fatigue. It is worth noting that Shewa gets more rain over a longer rainy season, making this possible.

Table 5. Frequency of 1-5 successive uninterrupted working days in seven months

No. of successive working days
































Total working days



According to informants, the north-eastern lowlands of Shewa below the escarpment observe only three non-working days (12th, 21st, 29th), and even Saturday is considered a working day. It is obvious that the women in these areas, which mostly grow sorghum, are under severe stress.

Since enset is a perennial crop, caring for it is fairly evenly distributed through a long rainy season. The only critical time is during transplanting, and this job is primarily the work of men.216 The most arduous and time-consuming job for women is the process of decorticating the enset plant during harvest - separating the edible starch from the fibre, wrapping the starch in enset leaves and burying it to ferment, and drying the fibre. But the enset plants do not have to be harvested at such rigidly defined times as cereals, and neighbouring women get together to help each other finish decorticating the enset.217 For this reason, the housewife gets enough time for housework without unduly denying herself sleep.

In the areas of strict hoe culture, the grains are maize and sorghum. The women do not use millstones to grind the grain, but pound it with a pestle and mortar. A woman needs 30 hours per week to do this.218 The pounded grain is sieved and boiled as a porridge. The pounding is equivalent to the dry grinding in the plough-culture areas and the wet grinding is thus dispensed with. The dry grinding of maize as practised in the plough-culture areas is more efficient (22 hours as against 30 hours per week). From this, it should become clear that trying to introduce baking, including both dry and wet grinding, into the hoeculture areas as a food preparation technique would increase the housework of the woman by 30 per cent when the food grain is sorghum and by 25 per cent when it is maize. This assumes that the whole technology is to be introduced. However, if pounding were retained as the equivalent of dry grinding, and only wet grinding on a stone were introduced to make flour for baking, the woman's workload would increase even more.

Comparing these three agricultural systems, therefore, we see that the women in the plough-culture areas are the hardest worked.

There is just one example of modern technology which, although designed and built by men, is under the control of women. This is an electrically heated baking plate for cooking 'njera, called a mtad. The mtad was developed in the 1960s through the partnership of an Italian and an Ethiopian, both engineers.219 This development involved both the identification of clay plates strong enough to take the embedding of electrical wiring and of machinery to shape the mtad. By the second half of the 1960s, the mtad was ready for sale. But very few bought it and the first mtads were often given away to relatives and friends. However, some of the better-off families did purchase the odd one, though more from curiosity than from a desire to make full use of them. The mtad did not "take-off" until firewood became difficult to obtain and hence increasingly expensive. This was in 1975/76 - a decade after the first fully functional mtads had been produced. A study could be made of the problems faced by the developers of the electric mtad, but this is not appropriate to the present short overview. Suffice it to say that this development took place in a climate where imported technologies were introduced with no scrutiny. Any efforts at indigenous technological development involved a constant battle against a self-interested, ignorant, and obstructive bureaucracy backed up by locally based interests funded from outside The country.

It is interesting to hear some of the reasons put forward for not using a mtad. Electricity is a new and somewhat frightening phenomenon and the amount of wiring contained in the electric mtad made it look both alarming and extremely expensive to use. However, all households that now use a mtad regularly have found that the increase in their electricity bill is far less than what they would have had to pay for firewood. Another reason was a basic distrust of the technology. It looked so different from the traditional mtad sitting over a wood fire that the baking woman's immediate reaction was that it could not possibly produce 'njera of acceptable quality. No housewife likes to serve her husband, let alone her guests, less than the best she can produce. But once women were forced to use it, they soon learnt how to regulate the heat and found that the quality of 'njera produced was not at all inferior to that produced with firewood. The electric mtad is not only cheaper to run, it also gives the woman a clean smoke-free atmosphere in which to bake. A feature of its present design is that it requires the woman to stand while baking, rather than sit as she would have done with a mtad over a fire. However, standing allows her to carry out other tasks while the 'njera is baking, because she does not have to watch a fire.

The electric mtad is now also a major item of equipment in institutions which have to feed large numbers of people. In these institutions, the women who do the baking have a hard working day, as they are required to watch over three mtads, which gives them no break between one operation and the next. How ever, it would be possible to design the mtads so that the woman could tend all three from a sitting position. But basic mtad design is in the hands of men.

The mtad is now a main item of equipment for any urban woman with an income or economic environment that will allow her to purchase and use it. This restricts its use to the higher income groups in the major towns. All the urban poor and all rural women are excluded from access to this technology. Rural women cannot use it because they do not have access to electricity. The urban poor, even if they can obtain an electric mtad cannot use it because they usually share both a kitchen and an electricity line with other families. In Asmara, 120volt power is available throughout the city, but the mtad is designed for 220-240 volts, and only a few houses have both lines.

The modern technology for cooking that has been taken up by all economic sectors in towns is the kerosene stove. This is typical of many imported technologies: all the stoves are imported, as is their fuel. As this document was being finalized, every gas station in Addis Ababa that sold kerosene had queues of women and children waiting and squabbling for days just to obtain five litres. In the meantime, it is difficult to imagine how the women in the houses they came from were preparing food.

Mother-Child Relationships

One additional important burden for the peasant woman is the bearing of and caring for children. Women carry infants while they perform the activities discussed above. The energy needed to suckle and carry infants in the sleepless peak working periods must wreak havoc on the health of both women and children. Though no studies from Ethiopia on the seasonality of mortality and morbidity of infants and mothers are known to the authors, this has been noted in other countries, for example Gambia.220 In this context, it should be pointed out that the many apparently wasteful religious non-working days serve the purpose of enabling the women to recuperate and thus probably reduce morbidity and mortality.

Given an adequate family food supply, during the off-peak agricultural activity period the Ethiopian rural woman looks after her infants quite well. Breast-feeding is universal.221 Even when, in the old days, the aristocratic women did not want to breast-feed, they used wet-nurses.222 In most houses there is at least one milch cow and the child being weaned usually has access to milk. But in times of drought,223 food runs low and milch cows dry up. It is the adults, both men and women, that most often go hungry; but it is the infants that are most vulnerable to reduced feeding. The families of rural artisans are the worst hit because nobody can buy their crafts.

Apparently, pregnant rural women eat sparingly so that their babies come out small and the risk of a complicated delivery is reduced.224 This understandable reaction cannot be good for the infant.

The condition of infants is worst among the urban poor, especially single mothers.225 These mothers usually have very low paid jobs, supplemented by "petty trading, handicraft production, and marketing." 226 These women, therefore, leave their infants at home, often poorly cared for by a small child or a very old relative, and the infants have to be bottle-fed under unhygienic conditions, resulting in infections, malnutrition, and, all too often, death.227 Better-educated and better-paid urban women have much more leisure than rural women or the urban poor, and can afford to pay poorer women to look after their infants full time. This partly compensates for the infants' being deprived of breast-feeding. Perhaps more important, those women space their births better.228 The deprivation of breast-feeding is inevitable because maternity leave is legally given for only 45 days, and no workplaces in Ethiopia have provisions for infant care.

Fetching Water

We have seen how fetching water fits into the woman's routine duties, and we will now look more closely at the amount of work that this implies.

Traditionally, homesteads have been on the tops of hills. This means that water is invariably far from the home, and it has to be brought uphill. At the height of the dry season, walking to the nearest stream with water may take several hours; but in the rainy season, there will at least be ponds or even seasonal streams (although the water is more often than not unfit for household use) within an average of 1.5 kilometres. Even in the harvesting season, temporary streams will still have water.

The scattered nature of the houses makes it impracticable to dig a well for each house, and the fact that the houses are built on hilltops means that they are unlikely to yield water on digging. Water is thus usually carried up in pots from the river. White et al.229 have summarized the energy expenditure required for this (table 6).

The way back from the river usually includes a flat stretch by the river, followed by a steep climb to The house. A average for homesteads would seem to be a distance of 1.5 km and an angle of slope of 8°. On average, therefore, during the peak agricultural period , a woman uses up about 23 per cent of her calorie intake to fetch water.

Table 6. Limits on water carrying for a household of five using four litres per capita daily

% of usage of calorie intake by water carrier

Limit in km for carrying water at different slope angles
































Obtaining and Carrying Cooking Fuel

Traditionally, the fuel used for 'njera baking is a mixture of firewood and cow dung; maize or sorghum cane are a possible substitute for, or addition to, the cow dung. For other forms of cooking except baking bread, firewood is preferred, though nowadays, with firewood being short, cow dung and cane are being used more and more.

The cow dung is shaped into cakes and sun dried, or dried droppings are collected from the field. All the cow dung has to be dried and/or collected in the dry season and stored indoors. Firewood, however, is collected throughout the year in the form of dried twigs and branches from trees, and shrubs dried after they have been cleared from fields. The woman usually picks these up while her husband is having his lunch in the field (she will normally have eaten lunch in the morning before bringing him his). She carries the firewood back home when she returns from the field, often together with an infant. When the husband returns later in the evening, he usually brings bigger pieces of wood which, from time to time, he splits for his wife to use as firewood. Religious taboos prohibit the splitting of wood on other than working days.

Technology and Women's Human Rights

As we have seen, women and children work on the farm playing a supportive role to the men. Among the duties of men, ploughing and threshing are assisted by both animal power and implements (oxen, the plough, forks, ladles, baskets, sieves). Some of these implements (baskets and sieves) are made, and have no doubt been devised, by women, and have obviously been adopted by men. Among women's jobs (removing uprootod plants during sowing, and weeding and harvesting), only harvesting uses an implement, the sickle, and none use animal power. It is obvious that in the complex of agricultural activities in plough-based farming, men play the determining role, and technologies and animal power that might ease the work of women are not their preoccupation. Conversely, in most parts of the highlands, the women see working animals as a source of assistance for men only. This is illustrated by the fact that the women carry the firewood they collect on their backs, even when there is an idle donkey in the house. When a woman takes produce to the market, she usually carries it in the same way, while men mostly use pack animals. There are signs that these rules are breaking down. For instance, men carry old Opuntla stalks into Asmara on their backs, and women in southern Shewa use donkeys to carry firewood and other produce.

That women can and do create technologies is seen by the many types of implements they use to help them in their housework. But there they are the masters and it is taboo for the Ethiopian man to enter the kitchen. Women, therefore, have developed the technologies they need.

As we have seen from tables 2 and 3, it is grinding that takes the woman the most time. Harnessing animal power to move the millstone could have cased her work and, once the millstone had been discovered, it would not have been very difficult to modify the traction to make use of animal power. But if she does not dare load a donkey to take her wares to market, she could hardly have used oxen for grinding! Now that The modern diesel-engine-driven grinding mill has arrived, however, it has been accepted wholeheartedly, and tables 2 and 3 show us why. It is a sad reflection on the exploitation of women by men, however, that the strictly feminine job of grinding grain, once mechanized, has been taken over by men. In the motorized grinding mill, women are present only as the lowest-paid hands, cleaning grain before it enters the mill. All the other activities have been assumed by men, who now do not consider it beneath their dignity to be covered in flour. This phenomenon, in which the working conditions of a "women's" job are improved, and the job is then taken away by men, is apparently the rule.230 It has been noted, therefore, that economic and technological changes, at least in the short run, make women relatively poorer. 231

Economic and technological changes have tended to disinherit the African woman further by privatizing the traditionally communal land and making it the property of the man.232 For this reason, even in the "female agricultural system" areas, where it is the women that produce the crops, it is males that usually decide on land use,233 with the result that the most productive and logistically convenient land is given over to cash crops, while food crop production is pushed onto poorer land at greater distances from the homestead. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are ideal for coffee production. The women of the coffee-producing areas have to go as much as one day's journey into the valley to produce the maize and other staples to feed their families (personal observation of one of the authors).

With the men controlling the cash crops and the technological inputs that they require, it is hardly surprising that, in these African countries, it is often the men and not the women234 who are provided with agricultural extension services. Even extension services for local food crops are directed to the men, while it is the women who do the cultivating . The extension service's efforts are thus totally dissipated.235 The only extension information directed to women usually concentrates on housekeeping and child welfare.236 Thus economic development tied to cash crops has tended to reduce, rather than enhance, The human rights of women.

The root cause of these injustices to women is the sexual job specialization that occurred in primitive times. Because men have come to be responsible for the public sphere, with women being bound to the family, women are left out of the database for planning.237 This results in their being excluded from education and technological innovation. From this, it follows that the deficiency of women's education is greatest in the technological fields.238

For these reasons, women do not usually enjoy the conditions that will allow them the mobility and flexibility for specialized jobs. Therefore, they end up by taking low-skilled, low-productivity and low-salaried jobs.239 Their contributions to national economies are thus "invisible," not figuring in national accounts240 and therefore becoming part of a vicious cycle that perpetuates their omission from the planning databases.241

But, as we have seen from tables 2 and 3, women are very important to subsistence agriculture in Ethiopia and, no doubt, in other African countries as well. We must therefore restore them to their rightful position if we are to develop at all. Not only do they constitute a most important element in the workforce, but they are instrumental in preparing the future workforce as well, because it is their attitudes and their teachings that mould future generations.242 It is women's attitudes that determine population increases.243 Thus it is imperative that the educational system reach them, taking note of their problems and providing solutions. Assuming that what is suitable for men should be suitable for women is not an acceptable approach. Women's education must emphasize the natural sciences and technology if their technological capabilities are to be improved and if they are to become more efficient in housekeeping and agricultural production.244

Only when there are competent women scientists and technologists can the problems of housekeeping and agricultural production as a whole be addressed. Our male-dominated research and development (R&D) systems entirely ignore the technological problems of housekeeping. At best, our R&D system makes only token gestures in relation to women's technological problems, and such efforts are often brought to a halt, as when the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) tried to improve enset decortication.245

In contrast, most R&D is directed towards the production problems faced by men. In agricultural Research emphasis is on raising production through the use of fertilizers, improved seeds, improved ploughing implements, etc. Although weeding is seen as important, since weeds depress production, the authors know of no agricultural Research aimed at alleviating the heavy workload of women, beyond row planting in maize and sorghum and trials involving herbicides. But herbicides are only imported for use on mechanized state farms. In contrast, the more expensive tractors and harvesters, even large combine harvesters, are imported, and there is even an assembly plant for tractors in Nazret, south of Addis Ababa. The men who determine what should be imported and what should not have seen technological support for weed control as a luxury that women should continue to forgo! In Kenya, where extension work has introduced the use of knapsack sprayers and farmers have access to herbicides, the work of weed control has been taken over by men. This has enabled the women to give more attention to their families and even to develop other income-generating activities.

The only modern technologies aimed at women's work which have been effectively introduced are the motorized grinding mill and the electric mtad. But the success of the grinding mill occurred only because of the desire of private entrepreneurs to find a market, combined with the traditional control by women of agricultural products once they enter the home. This enabled them to decide to use part of the harvest to pay for the grinding. There was no deliberate policy to foster its introduction until after the 1974 Revolution and the establishment of peasants' associations. Now there is even a factory in Addis Ababa producing the machinery for motorized grinding mills.

In all developed countries women are an important component of the industrially productive workforce. If this is to happen in developing countries as well, women's workload at home must be lightened.246 If this is not done, effective schooling for girls will also suffer, for it is well known that domestic chores reduce girls' attendance at school.247 As Birgit248 found in southern Shewa, it was only the women who had access to grinding mills and to nearby water supplies who could even attend literacy classes.

For these reasons, women now constitute a disproportionately large number of the poorest of the poor countries.249 It has long been recognized that poverty in sections of the population is maintained because the importance of the smallest economic unit, the family, is blurred in efforts to focus on overall national economic performance. As a result, it is argued that this can only be redressed if the family is the smallest economic unit considered in planning. But this still leaves women out, because the traditional head of a family is the man.

In fact, many of the poorest women do not have conventional families headed by men. They themselves are the heads of their family. This is why the focus should be on the woman as the smallest economic unit responsible for feeding the family and for running the home.250 This is why "focusing on ways to satisfy basic needs must go hand in hand with a focus on women as economically and socially important actors." 251 In conclusion, "because women are so important to achieving improved living standards, it is imperative that their role be considered equally with that of men so as to maximize the effect of development policies and programmes." 252

If women are to have their rights respected and are to be economically as effective as they could be, their decisive participation as policy makers and as scientists and engineers is a necessity. It is to the advantage of men to coopt women as, otherwise, they will continue to rule impoverished countries. Men can achieve a better life only in direct proportion to their investment in the improvement of the life of women. Any betterment of human rights can only be realized if the special rights and duties of women are given full consideration alongside those of men.

Without peace and stability, there can be no economic development for

Ethiopia. And without economic development there can be no meaningful application of modern science and technology for the betterment of human rights for all members of the community, men, women, and children.


1. J.D. Clark, "Africa in Pre-history: Peripheral or Paramount?" Man (New Series), vol. 10 (1975): 175-198; J.D. Clark, Tools and Ourselves, Seventh Raymond Dart Lecture delivered on 4 July 1979 (Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1981); J.D. Clark and H. Kurashina, "New Plio-Pleistocene Archaeological Occurrences from the Plain of Gadeb, Upper Webi Shebele Basin, Ethiopia, and a Statistical Comparison of the Gadeb Sites with Other Early Stone Age Assemblages," Anthropologie, vol.18 (1980): 161-187; and N. Kraybill, "Pre-agricultural Tools for the Preparation of Food in the Old World, " in C. A. Reed, ed., Origins of Agriculture (Mountain Publishers, The Hague, 1977), pp. 485-521.

2. J.D. Clark (note I above, 1975 and 1981).

3. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, "Land Management and Changes in Land Tenure in Ethiopian History" (Asmara University, Ethiopia, 1989) (mimeo).

4. H.S. Lewis, A Galla Monarchy (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wis., 1965), pp. 53-54.

5. Bahry, "Zena Galla," in Ignatius Guidi, ed., Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, vol. 20, Scriptores Aethtopici, tomus 3 (Secretariat du Corpus SCO, Louvain, 1961), pp. 229-230; and Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, "The Environmental Variables Which Led to the Ecological Crisis in Ethiopia," Coenosis, vol. 4, no. 2 (1989): 61-67.

6. Tewolde Berhan (note 5 above and under preparation).

7. F. Alvares, The Prester John of the Indies (Hakluyt Society, London, 1961), p. 501.

8. R.M. Basset, "Etudes sur l'histoire d'Ethiopie", Journal asiatique, August-September 1881.

9. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie, in F.M.E. Pereira, ed., Chronica de Sussenyos (Lisbon, 1892).

10. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 270.

11. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 291.

12. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 309-319.

13. Alvares (note 7 above), pp. 175 and 202-204.

14. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria, Ye Ityopia Tarik ke Atsie Lne Dngl 'ske Atsie Tewodros (A History of Ethiopia from Atse Lbne Dngl to Atse Tewodros) (Berhanenna Selam Printing Press, Addis Ababa, 1961), pp. 149-151 (in Amharic).

15. Paulos Nyonyo, Ye Ahmed Gran werera (The War between Ethiopia and Italy) (Bole Printing Press, Addis Ababa, 1981), pp. 158-172 (in Amharic).

16. C.W. Isenberg and J.L. Krapf, The Journals of C.W. Isenberg and J.L Krapf (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, London, 1968), pp. 64-65.

17. Faculty of Law, Consolidated Laws of Ethiopia (Artistic Printers Ltd, Addis Ababa, 1972).

18. For example, R.A. Sedler, "The Development of Legal Systems: The Ethiopian Experience," Iowa Law Review, vol. 53, no. 3 (1967): 562-635.

19. Faculty of Law (note 17 above).

20. J.C.N. Paul and C. Clapham, Ethiopian Constitutional Development - A Sourcebook (Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University in association with Oxford University Press, 1972), pp. 376-379.

21. Paul and Clapham (note 20 above).

22. Council of State, "The Constitution of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia", Negarit gazeta, year 47, no. 1 (1987).

23. For example, V.P. Nanda, J.R. Scarritt, and G.W. Shepherd Jr., eds., Global Human Rights: Public Policies, Comparative Measures and NGO Strategies (Westview Press, Boulder, Colo., 1981), pp. 174-176.

24. Council of State (note 22 above).

25. Council of State (note 22 above).

26. Council of State (note 22 above).

27. Nanda et al. (note 23 above), p. 196.

28. Council of State (note 22 above).

29. Ministry of Pen, "Civil Code of Ethiopia," Negarit gazeta, Extraordinary Issue no. 2 (1960).

30. Ministry of Pen, "Penal Code of Ethiopia, " Negarit gazeta, no. I (1957); Ministry of Pen (note 29 above); and Ministry of Pen, "Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia," Negarit gazeta, year 21, no. 7, Extraordinary Issue no. I (1961).

31. Council of State, "Proclamation of Establishment of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia No. 2/1987," Negarit gazeta, year 47, no. 2 (1987).

32. Ministry of Pen, "Penal Code" (note 30 above).

33. Prime Minister's Office, "Proclamation 214/1981," Negarit gazeta, year 41, no. 2 (1981).

34. Ministry of Pen (note 29 above), Articles 2035, 2126 and 2127.

35. Anon, in W.E. Conzelman, ed., Histoire de Galawdewos (Paris, 1895), pp. 24-25.

36. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 6, 133-135, 256, and 265.

37. Anon, in G.W.B. Huntingford, trans. and ed., The Glorious Victories of Amda Seyon, King of Ethiopia (Oxford University Press, London, 1965), p. 52.

38. See note 37 above, pp. 80 and 87.

39. C.J. Poncet, "A Voyage to Aethiopia Made in the Year 1698, 1699 and 17(X)," in William Foster, ed., The Red Sea and Adjacent Countries at the Close of the Seventeenth Century (Kraus Reprint Limited, Nendeln/Lichtenstein, 1967), p. 129 (reprinted from the Hakluyt Society publication of 1949).

40. Anon, in Stanislas Kur, ed., "Actes de Samuel de Dabra Wagag," Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, vol. 287, Scriptores Aethiopici, tomus 57 (Secretariat du Corpus SCO, Louvain, 1968), p. 26.

41. Anon (note 37 above).

42. Poncet (note 39 above), p. 129.

43. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria, The Pillage by Ahmed Gran (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., London, 1967), p. 224.

44. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 28-29.

45. Anon (note 37 above), pp. 57, 80, and 87.

46. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 24-25.

47. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 6 and 195.

48. S. Rubenson, The Survival of Ethiopian Independence (Heinemann, London, 1978), p. 365.

49. Anon (note 37 above), p. 57.

50. Sinoda and Knfe Michael, in R.M. Basset, cd., "Etudes sur l'historie d'Ethiopie," Journal asiatique, April-May-June 1881, p. 331.

51. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 332.

52. Anon (note 37 above), p. 68.

53. For example, F. Alvares (note 7 above), pp. 420 and 429; Anon (note 37 above), pp. 24-25; Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 87, 125, 134, 168, 196, 202, and 221-232.

54. J.B. Coulbeaux, Historie politique et religieuse de l'Abyssinie, vol. II (Guenther, Paris 1929), p. 93; Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 43 above), pp. 186 and 397.

55. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), pp. 327-332.

56. R.K.P. Pankhurst, ed., The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles (Oxford University Press, Addis Ababa, 1967), p. 67.

57. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 43 above), pp. 459-460.

58. J. de Castanhoso, Le règne de Yohannes (Imprimerie Jeanne d'Arc, Romans (Drome), 1972), p. 22.

59. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 335.

60. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 96-102.

61. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 103-109.

62. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 91.

63. ).H. Speke, What Led to the Discovery of the Nile (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, London, 1967), p. 34

64. For example, Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 362.

65. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 355.

66. Anon, in K. Conti Rossini, ed., "Historia Regis Sarsa Dengel (Malak Sagad)," Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, vol. 20, Scriptores Aethiopici, tomus 3 (Secretariate du Corpus SCO, Louvain, 1961), pp. 85-96.

67. Anon (note 35 above), p. 102.

68. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 43 above), p. 459.

69. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 91.

70. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 355.

71. Coulbeaux (note 54 above), p. 3.

72. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 6.

73. Poncet (note 39 above), p. 127.

74. For example, Alvares (note 7 above), p. 186.

75. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 348.

76. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 100.

77. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 281.

78. Lewis (note 4 above), p. 103.

79. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 256.

80. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 72.

81. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 373.

82. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 356.

83. For example, Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 80-81, 90-91, 174, 247, 256, and 322-325; Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 355.

84. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 209.

85. Pankhurst (note 56 above), pp. 77, 83, and 90; Anon (note 66 above), pp. 128-135.

86. Poncet (note 39 above), p. 136.

87. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 338.

88. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 62-63.

89. Anon (note 35 above), p. 65.

90. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 75-76.

91. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 337.

92. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 338.

93. Anon (note 35 above), pp. 33.

94. Bahry (note 5 above), pp. 223-231.

95. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 337.

96. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 84.

97. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 104-107.

98. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 117-122.

99. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 108 and 141-142.

100. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 223-224.

101. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 225.

102. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 231.

103. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 84, 104-105, 106, 10;-107, 117120, 121-122, 141-142, 149, and 223-224.

104. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 117-120 and 121-122.

105. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 260.

106. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 6.

107. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 12, 23, and 37-38.

108. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 370.

109. ). de Coursac, Le règne de Yohannes (Imprimerie Jeanne d'Arc, Romans (Drome), 1926), p. 111.

110. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 14 above), pp. 264-265.

111. Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 14 above), p. 113.

112. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 41.

113. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 41.

114. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 341

115. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 321.

116. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 348.

117. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 353.

118. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 400.

119. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 482.

120. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 38.

121. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 41.

122. Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 185.

123. For example, Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), p. 132; Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 337.

124. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 348.

125. S. Gobat, Journal of Three Years' Residence in Abyssinia (Negro University Press, New York, 1969), pp. 281-283.

126. M. Parkyns, Life in Abyssinia (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., London, 1966), pp. 125-135; S. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 417.

127. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 169-171.

128. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 172.

129. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 168.

130. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 139.

131. H. Dufton, A Narrative of a Journey through Abyssinia in 1863 (Negro University Press, Westport, Conn., 1970), pp. 166-167 and 183.

132. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 255-268.

133. De Coursac (note 109 above), p. 59.

134. Tekla Tsadq Mekuria (note 14 above), p. 24.

135. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 260.

136. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 275-276 and 364.

137. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 365.

138. De Coursac (note 109 above), p. 123.

139. De Coursac (note 109 above), p. 322.

140. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 398.

141. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 141-142 and 301-302.

142. See the appeal by Emperor Haile Slassie to the Western democracies on 13 September 1935: "Italy, after having obtained from the powers their refusal to permit us to purchase arms and ammunition which we do not manufacture and which are necessary for our defense, seeks to discredit the Ethiopian people and their government before world opinion." Lewis Copeland and Lawrence W. Lamm, The World's Great Speeches, 3rd enlarged ed. (Dover Publications, 1973), p. 470.

143. Anon (note 66 above), pp. 65-66.

144. Basset (note 8 above), p. 113.

145. Basset (note 8 above), p. 118.

146. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 168- 169.

147. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 168.

148. For example, Tekle Tsadq Mekuria (note 14 above), p. 265; H. Dufton (note 131 above), p. 92.

149. For example, Mhrka Dngl and Tekle Sllasie (note 9 above), pp. 280-282.

150. Pankhurst (note 56 above), p. 102.

151. J.A. Quirin, "The Beta Israel (Felasha) in Ethiopian History: Caste Formation and Culture Change, 1270-1868," Ph.D. thesis (School of Graduate Studies, University of Minnesota, 1977).

152. Anon (note 40 above), p. 26.

153. For example, Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), p. 151.

154. Dufton (note 131 above), pp. 166-167.

155. Dufton (note 131 above), pp. 166-167.

156. De Coursac (note 109 above), p. 49; Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 139.

157. Rubenson (note 48 above), pp. 364-365.

158. H. Salt, A Voyage to Abyssinia and Travels into the Interior of that Country (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., London, 1967), p. 348.

159. Merid Wolde Aregay, "Technology in Medieval Ethiopia," paper presented for the conference on Ethiopian feudalism, March 1976, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa (mimeo).

160. W.A. Shack, The Gurage a People of the Ensete Culture (Oxford University Press, London, 1969), p. 42.

161. Shack (note 160 above), p. 9.

162. Shack (note 160 above), pp. 9-10.

163. Lewis (note 4 above), p. 24.

164. Lewis (note 4 above), pp. 92, 119- 120.

165. Salt (note 158 above), p. 321.

166. Rubenson (note 48 above), p. 256.

167. Merid Wolde Aregay, "Society and Technology in Ethiopia, 1500-1800,"Journal of Ethiopian Studies, vol. 16 (1983): 127-143.

168. Bahry (note 5 above).

169. Bahry (note 5 above).

170. M. de Almeida, "Ethiopia and its People", in C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, trans and eds., Some Records of Ethiopia, 1593-1646 (Hakluyt Society, London, 1954), p. 45.

171. Anon (note 37 above), p. 108.

172. Lewis (note 4 above), pp. 19-58.

173. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 348 Pankhurst (note 56 above), p. 102.

174. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 352.

175. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 147.

176. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 336.

177. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 405.

178. Lewis (note 4 above), pp. 66 and 113.

179. Gobat (note 125 above), pp. 263 and 279.

180. Gobat (note 125 above), pp. 147-149.

181. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 403.

182. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 465.

183. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 473.

184. Lewis (note 4 above), p. 85.

185. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 473.

186. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 390.

187. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 462.

188. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 463.

189. For example, Gobat (note 125 above), pp. 281-282.

190. Sinoda and Knfe Michael (note 50 above), p. 408.

191. Isenberg and Krapf (note 16 above), pp. 507-508.

192. D. Crummey, "Theology and Political Conflict during the Zamana Masafent: The Case of Este in Bagemder," paper presented at the ninth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 26-29 August 1986, Institute of African Studies, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

193. Gobat (note 125 above), pp. 336 and 143-144.

194. Crummey (note 192 above).

195. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 390.

196. Gobat (note 125 above), p. 462.

197. Meri McCoy-Thompson, "Women's Bill of Rights," World Watch, vol. 3, no. 3: 283-301.

198. Protein-Calorie Advisory Group (PAG) of the United Nations, Women in Food Production, Food Handling and Nutrition, with Special Emphasis on Africa (E;AO, Rome, 1979), p. 60.

199. C.O. Sauer, Seeds, Spades, Hearths and Herds: The Domestication of Animals and Foodstuffs (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1969).

200. United Nations Development Programme, Evaluation Study No.3- Rural Women's Participation in Development (UNDP, New York, 1980), p.6.

201. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 113-115.

202. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 113-115.

203. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 7-13 and 113-115.

204. UNDP (note 200 above) , p. 82; World Bank, Recognising the "Invisible" Woman in Development: The Worid Bank's Experience (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 1979), pp. 8 and 15.

205. E. Boserup, Women's Role in Economic Development (St Martin's Press, New York, 1980).

206. Boserup (note 205 above).

207. K.H. Friedrich, A.V.E. Slangen, and Solomon Bellete, Initial Farm Management Survey 1972-1973 (Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, 1979), p. 37 (mimeo),

208. A.O. Ellman, An Agricultural and Socio-economic Survey of South Sudan Refugee Settlements and Surrounding Areas in Gambela Awraja, Ethiopia (Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, 1972), pp. 21-95 (mimeo).

209. Shack (note 160 above), pp. 5, 30, and 50-82.

210. For example, Birgit Negussie, "Studies in Comparative and International Education No. 13 - Traditional Wisdom and Modern Development," Ph.D. thesis (Institute of International Education, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, 1988), pp. 96-97; Ellman (note 208 above), pp. 21-95; Friedrich et al. (note 207 above).

211. Friedrich et al. (note 207 above).

212. Friedrich et al. (note 207 above).

213. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 9-12.

214. For example, Shack (note 160 above), pp. 52-68.

215. Ellman (note 208 above), p. 53.

216. Shack (note 160 above), p. 63.

217. Shack (note 160 above), pp. 64-66.

218. Ellman (note 208 above), p. 37.

219. Ethiopian Herald, 1990, and discussions with the Ethiopian engineer.

220. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 73-75.

221. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 30.

222. Gobat (note 125 above).

223. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 103.

224. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 153.

225. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 9.

226. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 106.

227. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 96.

228. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 97.

229. Quated in PAG (note 198 above), p. 69.

230. UNDP (note 200 above), pp. 6, 11, 24, and 144-146.

231. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 1.

232. PAG (note 198 above), pp. 122-123.

233. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 8.

234. PAG (note 198 above), p. 123.

235. World Bank (note 204 above), pp. 6-7; UNDP (note 200 above), p. I 1.

236. UNDP (note 200 above), p. 89.

237. UNDP (note 200 above), pp. 7-8.

238. UNDP (note 200 above), p. 10

239. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 12.

240. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 11; UNDP (note 200 above), p. 9.

241. UNDP (note 200 above), p. 8.

242. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 1; Negussie (note 210 above), p. 107.

243. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 1.

244. UNDP (note 200 above), p. 16.

245. Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Second Progress Report (March 1978-April 1980) (Agricultural Engineering, Home Sciences, and Food Technology Department, Addis Ababa, 1981), pp, 34-36 (mimeo); and Institute of Agricultural Research, Agricultural Engineering Department Progress Report 1980-1981 (Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, 1982), p. 5 (mimeo).

246. UNDP (note 200 above), pp. 25 and 39.

247. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 4.

248. Negussie (note 210 above), p. 107.

249. World Bank (note 204 above), p. 1.

250. PAG (note 198 above), p. 157.

251. PAG (note 198 above), p. 153.

252. PAG (note 198 above).

(introductory text...)



Progress in medical sciences and advanced treatment methods involves new challenges to humanity and the traditional regulation of societies. With the biomedical development, new opportunities and life perspectives have been created for those with previously intractable complications or health problems. Not only have the boundaries of life and handicaps been removed but, at the same time, new forms of procreation have been developed which have an enormous impact on our definitions of parenthood, family, descent, heredity, titles, and other concepts.

Since the Second World War rapid developments have taken place, particularly in the fields of medicine, biology, microbiology, and chemistry. Nevertheless, or maybe as a consequence, states face unprecedented problems in their endeavours to guarantee the fullest possible enjoyment of rights and fundamental freedoms to all their citizens and to regulate, and eventually to adjust, interhuman relations within their jurisdictions.

The experiences of the Second World War have also resulted in an important impulse to formulate and give legal protection to the inherent rights of human beings, on both a national and an international level. The tragic developments caused by the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe left no doubt that the departure from democracy not only leads to a continuous destruction of the rule of law and human rights, but also endangers international peace and security. For the first time in history the international community fully realized the interdependence of peace, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. In the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations recognized that "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind" and that human rights are "the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world." Although Article 21 of the Universal Declaration proclaimed the right of every one to take part in the government of his country, democracy was not considered a requirement for membership of the United Nations.

Such a link between democracy and human rights has, however, been established by the Council of Europe. Article 3 of its Statute defines the principles of human rights, the rule of law, and a pluralist democracy as indispensable conditions for membership. These three principles have become the pillars on which the new identity of Western European societies rests. Authoritarian regimes such as Spain under Franco and Portugal under Salazar had no place in Western Europe as defined by the Council of Europe. When it became obvious that the Greek military regime under Papadopoulos in the late 1960s had seriously violated these principles, Greece was forced to leave the Council. Until the removal of the Iron Curtain Eastern European states were prevented from joining the Council, but as soon as they comply fully with certain minimum standards of a pluralist democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, they will be invited by the Committee of Ministers to become members. Hungary was the first former Communist state to join the Council of Europe on 6 November 1990, followed by Czechoslovakia on 21 February 1991. As of April 1991, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia have consultative status with the Council of Europe, Poland probably being the next state to be offered full membership. By this policy the Council underscores its role as the major driving force for an all-European unification process based on the common cultural heritage of the "old continents." 1

The Council of Europe's human rights concept is defined by the European Convention on Human Rights2 and a number of other treaties, such as the European Social Charter and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture. This concept is a traditional Western one with a major emphasis on civil and political rights, the rule of law and judicial safeguards for the domestic and international implementation of human rights.

Since the Second World War many Western European States, such as the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, and the Netherlands, have adopted new constitutions in which domestic bills of rights and their protection by constitutional courts or similar organs play a very important role. In addition, the vast majority of the present 24 member states of the Council of Europe have incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into their domestic legal order.3 Austria has accorded the rights enshrined in the Convention a directly applicable constitutional status equal to that of the traditional bill of rights.4 In the Netherlands the European Convention enjoys an even higher legal status than the comprehensive catalogue of human rights defined in the new Constitution of 1983.5 But even in the United Kingdom, which still adheres to a strict dualist system, the European Convention is regularly invoked before and by British courts.6 One may, therefore, conclude that the Convention and its dynamic implementation by the European Commission and the Court of Human Rights have established a common European order for the relationship between governments and the individual.7

There have been impressive developments in knowledge about the human body and mind, and the methods to be employed to adjust or change congenital qualities and disorders, since the Second World War. At the same time both the scope and content of some human rights have been evaluated, while new categories of rights have been conceptualized.

Changing moral and social values always have a considerable impact on the formulation, interpretation and - not least - the application of the rules of laws.8 In the framework of this study it is important to refer to the changing ideas on the state-citizen relationship as well as to modifications of the notion of the freedom of contract. Particularly since the late 1960s, there has been an impressive global process of citizens claiming better sabeguards for the protection of their rights and freedoms, in relation both to public authorities ("vertical relations") and to fellow-citizens ("horizontal relations"). In the vertical relationship there was the important development of citizens claiming the right to popular participation in the decision-making process in all sectors of social, economic, cultural, and political life. As a result of this "emancipatory process," the right to freedom of contract became restricted. Discrimination in social life, thus impeding access to social goods or services for human beings with certain traits, convictions, or characteristics, came to be considered unjustified and was made illegal. Policies were developed to guarantee equal access to goods and services to all citizens. Misusing power through defining the contents of an agreement to the disadvantage of a weaker party would make the contract void, as a legal basis was lacking. This process also had enormous repercussions for the health-care sector and in particular the physician-patient relationship.9

The right to health care is one of the rights that became internationally recognized as a fundamental human right after the Second World War. In this respect, both for physicians and patients, rights and duties were formulated, towards each other and towards third parties.10 It is important to note that, although sometimes erroneously referred to as such, there never has been formulated a right to health. A "right to health" can never be obtained, as it implies a right to a given good which cannot be formulated objectively and which thus cannot be protected.11

The right to health care can be defined as the right to share the benefits of health care and health services available in society. The right to health care is primarily an obligation imposed on states to provide sufficient means to guarantee its citizens a certain standard of health, as well as equal access to health services. The latter also follows from the anti-discrimination provisions, as contained in all major human rights instruments (see below). At the same time there rests an obligation on states to make the necessary (financial) investments in primary health promotion, health and professional education, modernization of equipment, etc.

So far the term "right to health care" has not been used in any of the major international human rights instruments. However, the right to health care can be derived from different formulations, such as: "a right to a standard relevant to health" (Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR); "a right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health" (Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, CESCR, and the Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization, WHO); "a right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical and mental health" (Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, ACHPR); "a right to the preservation of health" (Article 11 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, ADRDM); "a right to health protection" (Article 11 of the European Social Charter, ESC) and "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not only the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right and ... the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important social goal" (Article 1 of the Declaration of Alma Ata). As a corollary to the obligations of states, individuals can invoke several rights and freedoms, which are inherent in the right to health care.

Three universally recognized human rights are particularly relevant for the protection of an individual's health and well-being against impairments by others:

1. The right to life (Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR; Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR; Article 4 of the American Convention on Human Rights, ACHR; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, ACHPR; Article 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms, ECHR).

2. The prohibition of torture, maltreatment and medical experimentation (Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR; Article 7 of the Internation Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR; Article 2 of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment, CAT; Article 5 of the American Convention on Human Rights, ACHR; Article 6 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture, IACPPT; Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, ACHPR; Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms, ECHR; and the Preamble to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ECPT).

3. The right to equality and non-discrimination (Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR; Articles 2, 3, 23, 24, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR; Articles. 2 and 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, CESCR; Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization, WHO; Articles 2 and 18 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, ACHPR; Article 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, ACHR; Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human

Rights and Fundamental freedoms, ECHR; and the Preamble to the European Social Charter, ESC). National legislators and public health authorities should not restrict themselves to pursuing an active health-promotion and disease-prevention policy. As stated at the conference at Alma Ata (1978), health is more than the absence of disease or infirmity. Several other aspects are inherent in the right to share the benefits of health care. Health services should be geographically well distributed and accessible as well as affordable to all persons. The work of health-care providers and institutions must be of a high professional standard and based on practical, scientifically sound, and socially acceptable methods and technologies. Health education for the entire population and special educational and training facilities for health-care providers are essential to promote individual and community self-reliance. Health-care providers should work according to codes of professional medical ethics that can be assessed and judged by a competent administrative body, particularly in the event of a complaint by a patient. Special services and measures of prevention should be created for people who are sick or in need, such as pregnant women, children, handicapped persons, and other such groups.

As a general proposition it should be stated that the provision of health care must never be a means to curtail patients' rights, but should be aimed at the promotion of the autonomy and well-being of all persons.

While after the Second World War the establishment of health-care services, the development of new remedies, and the introduction of advanced treatment methods were in full swing, attention was also drawn to the rights and freedoms, of patients. The inherent tensions between these two developments were acknowledged and studies on the dilemmas for human rights that might arise from further developments in science and technology were recommended.12 It was obvious that any new methods of treatment or drugs could only be introduced after being carefully pre-tested, and this could well be on human beings. Thus, experimentation with treatment methods and drugs is a conditional stage in achieving higher standards of health.

There was a great impact caused by court opinions concerning the trial of persons accused of "war crimes and crimes against humanity," including "experiments with human beings." The statement by the Nuremberg court represents the most complete and authoritative statement of the law of informed consent to human experiments.13 In 1953 the very first declaration on patients' rights was prepared by Professor Dr A. Querido and Professor G. Kraus at a WHO seminar in Amsterdam. This clearly reflected the spirit of the post-war period of protecting patients against unsound medical interventions.14

In the 1960s the emancipation, participation, and democratization movements, together with the twentieth anniversary of the UDHR, provided important incentives for the discussion of patients' rights. At the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights in Tehran, it was slated that future efforts should be directed towards the implementation of the established human rights norms. In other words, the main focus changed, and from now on was aimed at human rights protection rather than their promotion. At the same time, the question of the impact of scientific and technological developments on human rights was raised. The Proclamation of Tehran stated that "while recent scientific discoveries and technological advances have opened vast prospects for economic, social, and cultural progress, such developments may nevertheless endanger the rights and freedoms of individuals and will require continuing attention." 15

Since the 1970s the rights of patients have been formulated on different occasions, on both the national and the international level.16 The American Hospitals Association promulgated a patients' bill of rights. WHO has set up various committees to make studies and recommendations in this area. Declarations and codes from the World Medical Association (WMA)17 and their national branches had (and have) an important standard-setting function. As a result of national discussions, rules defining the rights of the consumers of the health-care sector became further elaborated and embodied in enforceable rules of law.18

The rights of patients are based on two fundamental human rights: the right to health care and the right to privacy.

The right to privacy, as guaranteed in Article 17 CCPR, Article 8 ECHR, and Article 11 ACHR, reflects the old liberal idea that the individual should be protected against any undue interference with his or her private space and autonomy.19 In addition to the protection of one's family life, home, and correspondence, the right to privacy also protects the individual's particular identity, integrity, intimacy, autonomy, private communication, and sexuality.20

Autonomy means that an individual is completely free to arrange his/her private life in accordance with his/her own ideas and is responsible for his/her own life, as long as he/she does not interfere with the rights and freedoms of others.21 There is no consensus concerning the question of to what extent autonomy is fully covered by the right to privacy, or if this right has its own legal basis. Particularly in health law literature, autonomy, sometimes called "individual self-determination," is often referred to as a separate and inalienable right of individuals.22 The right to individual autonomy is not explicitly enshrined in any of the major international human rights instruments but can, at least partially, be derived from the right to privacy.23 Some scholars consider this right as one of the pillars of the internationally recognized human rights law.24

Apart from this discussion, there is agreement that autonomy ensures the right over one's own body, which even includes the right to suicide and to inflict physical harm on oneself. Consequently, every medical treatment, examination, or experimentation constitutes an interference with the autonomy of the individual. In the absence of any legitimate restriction of the right to privacy, medical treatment, examination, and experimentation may only be performed with the voluntarily given and informed consent of the person concerned.

Medical treatments also touch upon another aspect of the right to privacy, the protection of an individual's integrity. As against the absolute prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment contained in the CAT and the ECPT, Article 7 CCPR, Article 3 ECHR, and Article 5 ACHR only protect comparatively serious interferences with a person's physical or mental integrity.25 In addition, Article 7 CCPR contains a specific right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without a person's free consent. This particular right, which was inserted as a reaction to the medical experimentation performed in the Nazi concentration camps, only applies to medical experiments (and thus not to examinations and treatments) which amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Whereas these serious interferences with a person's personal integrity are prohibited under international law without exception (even in times of a public emergency), even less serious medical treatments, examinations, or experimentations, such as compulsory testing against poliomyelitis or a compulsory blood test after an accident, constitute interferences with the right to personal integrity deriving from the protection of one's privacy. Consequently, these and similar interferences are only permitted if they can be justified under the limitation clauses contained in the relevant provisions of international human rights treaties.

While Article 17(1)CCPR prohibits any arbitrary or unlawful interference with one's privacy, Article 8(2)ECHR is much more specific. According to the ECHR an interference is only permitted if it is in accordance with the law and if it is "necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety, or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

In the context of advanced forms of medical treatment and examinations, the protection of health and of the rights and freedoms of others seems to be the most relevant objective which could justify a particular interference with the right to privacy. A deeper analysis of the legal texts, the drafting history of the relevant treaties and clauses, and the jurisprudences of the competent organs shows what conditions eventually need to be fulfilled before a restriction of the right to privacy can be said to be justifiable.

A look into the travaux préparatoires of Article 17 CCPR26 shows that the limitation grounds listed in Article 8(2)ECHR are roughly what the drafters of Article 17 CCPR had in mind when they decided to prohibit any "arbitrary interference." Consequently, under both treaties restrictions of the right to privacy are only permissible if they

- are provided by and carried out in accordance with the law (i.e. a statute enacted by a legitimate parliamentary body or a similar common law norm),

- are in the interests of a legitimate objective such as the protection of public health or of the rights and freedoms of others,

- are strictly necessary in a democratic society to achieve such an objective, that is to say proportional to the goal, and

- are not imposed arbitrarily, i.e. in an unreasonable, discriminatory , or unproportional manner.

Since international human rights treaties are concluded by states, only states parties are directly bound by their provisions. Consequently, the obligations contained in such treaties, in particular the obligation to respect and ensure to all individuals the human rights enlisted therein, are obligations of states. In principle these obligations have an effect on the vertical relations between the individual and the state only. If, for example, a police officer is found guilty of having tortured a detainee, the state concerned has violated the right of the victim to physical integrity. If, on the other hand, a man is sexually abusing his wife and children, he commits a crime, but the state where this occurs cannot be held responsible for such crimes of private individuals. Only in exceptional circumstances, e.g. if the legal order does not at all prohibit and/or prevent the ill treatment of children or where a state incites hatred and encourages the use of force against certain population groups, the state concerned may be held responsible for a violation of the prohibition of torture on the horizontal level. This comparatively limited duty of states to protect human rights between private individuals (horizontal effects) derives from the obligation under international treaties, e.g. Article 2(1) CCPR and Article I ECHR, to "ensure" or to "secure" to all individuals the rights contained in the international instrument conceived. In addition to this general obligation, certain human rights provisions emphasize the duty of states parties to protect such a right by law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, for example, contains such a clause with respect to the rights to life, privacy, and equality and the rights of children and minorities.27 The explicit "right to the protection of the law against such interference" with one's privacy in Article 17(2) CCHR28 clearly shows the particular obligation of states parties to protect the right to privacy against interferences on the horizontal level.29 Although Article 8 ECHR does not contain a similar provision, the Strasbourg organs decided in a number of cases that states parties had not afforded sufficient protection to the right to privacy against interferences from private individuals.30

Since the physician-patient relationship is normally one between two private individuals, the horizontal effect of the right to privacy is of major importance for the evaluation of state obligations to prevent, inter alia, certain practices relating to mandatory medical examinations or genetic engineering. Thus, although in most countries the physician-patient relationship is covered by private law provisions, parties are not completely free to determine the contents of their contractual agreements. Following the positive obligations imposed upon states by the above-mentioned human rights treaties, there is a clear duty for states to protect individuals, particularly the "weaker contractual parties" (the patients) from inhuman and degrading treatment, medical experimentation, etc.

As regards advanced treatment methods and developments in the medical sciences to improve health-care provisions, we meet with a certain paradox. While the health-care system is built up to assist human beings in the preservation and promotion of their health, at the same time this system may threaten the privacy and integrity of individuals. Medical research may be conducted both in the general interest (scientific research) and in the individual interest (diagnostic research), and these need, not necessarily overlap.31 Human rights law has been structured to prevent human beings being used as "study and experimental objects" for health-care providers, instead of being the primary beneficiaries of the newest treatment methods. However, (bio-)medical sciences are developing very fast and are taking forms unforeseen by the drafters of most human rights treaties in force today. It may already be necessary to review and adopt legal safeguards to ensure that they will provide sufficient legal protection for the individual right to privacy under these changed circumstances. Health care, in the first place, should always be aimed at preserving and restoring a person's health, as this is considered a condition for the enjoyment of individual autonomy. However, it is debatable if an individual can be forced to undergo all kinds of medical treatment considered to be for the benefit of his/her own life. Here we come to the key question of to what extent an individual's will, in the form of "informed consent," is to be the basis of any form of interference with an individual's privacy and integrity, and under what situations others are permitted to make decisions on behalf of an individual.

It is important to note that in principle illness does not change the legal status of a person,32 although hospitalization, as well as the provision of a sickness benefit, may create new forms of dependency . In addition we should be aware that illness, like health, cannot be formulated objectively. The definition of illness, particularly mental illness, will always depend on cultural settings. Following the emancipatory process of the 1960s and 1970s, and the changed notions on the role of law, new Iegislation has been promulgated to protect the "weaker" and "more vulnerable" contracting party. Following two United Nations declarations at the beginning of the 1970s - the Declaration on the Rights of the Mentally Retarded Persons (1971)33 and the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons (1975)34- it has notably been in Western Europe where rights of patients have been formulated, both on a national and on a European level.35

In this respect the institutions of the Council of Europe took a leading role by establishing different working groups and special committees of health experts, as well as by passing several recommendations and resolutions. One could mention the Recommendation on the use of human embryos and foetuses for diagnostic, therapeutic, scientific, and commercial purposes (1976), the Recommendation on the participations of the sick in their own treatment (1980), the Recommendation on automated medical data banks (1981), the Recommendation on the legal protection of persons suffering from mental disorders placed as involuntary patients (1983), the Recommendation on the legal status of physicians vis-à-vis their patients (1985), the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on sterilization (1975), and the Resolution on removal, grafting, and transplantation of human substances (1978).36 With regard to the patient's right to privacy, special reference should be made to the Council of Europe's Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data (1981).37

The World Health Organization, WHO (with its Headquarters in Geneva and its Regional Office for Europe based in Copenhagen) has made (and makes) efforts to bridge the differences between the various nations and groups of nations by collaborating with all states. WHO has been particularly successful in the coordination of AIDS control and HIV prevention programmes.38 With the support of public health experts from many countries, WHO tries to design a common strategy to fight AIDS/HIV infection, while respecting the rights and freedoms, as well as the human dignity, of people with AIDS and persons found to be infected with HIV, the agent causing AIDS. In times of epidemics, like AIDS, states may easily feel obliged to announce far-reaching and restrictive measures to control the disease and the behaviour of people infected.39 Thanks to the efforts of WHO and its regional offices, respect for human rights and dignity is now considered to be crucial and to be a condition for the success of any efficient AIDS strategy.40

The European Parliament, the parliamentary forum connected with the European Communities (EC), has also taken some major initiatives, such as the Resolution in which it requested the drafting of a charter of patients' rights (1984) and its Resolution on the elaboration of a European Charter on children treated in hospital (1986).41 The European Commission, the executive and policy-initiating body of the EC, has also shown a deep concern with health issues during the last decade, although less with patients' rights. Most attention has been paid to cancer, smoking, and AIDS.42 Within the Council of Ministers, the EC decision-making body, the Ministers of Health have emphasized the right to equal treatment and freedom of movement, as laid down in the EEC treaties on several occasions.43

In general it could be said that there is a major trend towards transforming obligations for physicians into rights of patients.44 On a national level the rights of patients have been incorporated into civil law, administrative law, and special regulations. Patients have also been provided with remedies to enforce their rights before courts or to submit complaints before special tribunals. These remedies, however, are not always comparable to remedies available through ordinary civil and administrative procedures, and may even give rise to questions regarding the principles of effective remedy, and the independence and impartiality of tribunals (Article 8, 10 UDHR).45 Special provisions have been made with regard to the composition of the judicial bodies and conditions to be fulfilled before lodging a complaint or suing a physician, which may imply important restrictions on a patient in obtaining a legal verdict.

While discussing patients' rights we should also be aware of the limitations on these rights and the possible counterbalancing duties of patients. In many countries, not only those restricted to the European region, the authorities have en forced regulations such as those relating to the mandatory notification of certain diseases, tracing of contacts, partner/contact notification, restrictions on the rights to freedom of movement, to found a family, or to work, and schemes for compulsory screening for certain diseases and physical disabilities.

In this paper we will focus on the major implications of advanced medical treatment methods on the rights and freedoms of the individual recipients of health care and all those who are confronted with the results of changes in the (bio-)medical sector as a result of ongoing technological and scientific developments. We will pay due attention to both positive and negative effects and assess their impacts. In some cases the introduction of new treatment methods may cause new contradictions in society. There will be groups that will benefit from the advanced therapeutic resources, while the rights of the members of other groups may become impaired. Though sometimes difficult to resolve, we shall seek a reasonable balance between conflicting rights on the basis of current international human rights law and the interpretation of the provisions by the relevant organs.

Our point of reference will be internationally recognized human rights law i.e. rights recognized by law46 - particularly as laid down and elaborated in the national and supranational legislative systems in our region, that is to say Western Europe. Although the discussion 011 justice, ethics, and health care takes place on the frontiers of disciplines such as social sciences, law, medicine, biology, microbiology, and chemistry, we will restrict ourselves to monitoring the situation from a human rights perspective. We are aware that scientific and technological developments can be used for the promotion of human rights and to ensure better protection of recognized rights and freedoms, although at the same time they may imply threats to the enjoyment of some of these rights. As the impacts of the rapid (bio-)medical developments and experiments have still far from crystallized, we will operate with a certain degree of caution. It has been our main objective to outline the direct implications of the introduction or expected introduction of advanced treatment and testing methods and techniques on the enjoyment of human rights. Consequently we will indicate the most fundamental legal dilemmas we encounter, as well as the areas where legal regulations are missing or insufficient to provide clear guidelines for judging (bio-)medical practices or to protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals/patients in the new situation. We will also make suggestions and recommendations when considered appropriate.

Artificial methods of procreation


Since 1987, when the first child conceived by the technique of in vitro fertilization was born in the United Kingdom, the hopes and fears caused by modern reproductive techniques have been the subject of increased medical, ethical, political, and legal debates.47 In the past, couples who were unable to have children had to accept their childless state or adopt a child. Since adoption did not always satisfy the desire of parents to have their own child, medical science for centuries has aimed at identifying the causes of infertility and at providing remedies. Already in the late eighteenth century the first recorded artificial insemination using semen from the husband took place, and from the nineteenth century we have been told about cases of artificial insemination with semen from donors.48 Other forms of artificial procreation such as in vitro fertilization, egg donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy are, however, truly modern reproductive techniques and create a wide range of legal and ethical problems.

Artificial insemination (Al) is a solution where the reason for the childlessness is the man's infertility or his inability to deposit semen into the vagina. The latter problem can be solved by assisted fertilization using the semen from the husband or the male partner of a cohabiting couple (AIH). Since no extraneous element is introduced into the couple's relationship, this technique does not raise serious ethical or legal problems. It is only if the semen is frozen and inseminated after the husband's death that the status of the child (legitimate or illegitimate) may give rise to problems.49

Similar problems arise if Al uses semen from a donor (AID) because of the husband's or male partner's infertility. In the absence of specific laws the child would be illegitimate and AID would have to be considered (at least if it was carried out without the husband's/partner's consent) as adultery with all legal consequences (if still existing), such as, for example, criminal sanctions and a ground for divorce.50 The legal regulations generally seem to be inappropriate to deal with the situation of a single woman or a lesbian couple applying for AID. Although in many Western European countries, thanks to AID, single women and lesbian couples have succeeded in giving birth to a child and raising it, the parenthood rules seem to be very diverse, if existing at all. Further problems related to AID arise in case of anonymous semen banks.

Egg donation is a solution in a case where the woman is unable to ovulate or would be advised on medical grounds not to have a child. Although it is the counterpart of AID it raises more serious legal problems. The old Roman law principle mater semper certa est cannot any longer be applied because the child has both a genetic (biological) and a carrying/nurturing (natural) mother. In order to solve this problem the Australian state of Victoria, for example, introduced a presumption that the woman who actually gives birth to the child is the mother of the child and that the egg donor is not the mother.51

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a technique by which an egg is fertilized under laboratory conditions.52 After the resulting embryo has developed for a short while it is then placed into the uterus of the woman who produced the egg. If it is implanted into another woman, we speak of embryo donation or embryo transfer. Before fertilization can take place an egg has to be removed from the ovary. In order to increase the chances of a pregnancy, in practice a number of eggs (normally three) are produced with the help of drugs and removed, fertilized, and reimplanted at the same time. This technique, however, creates the possibility of more embryos being produced than are needed for reimplantation. These "surplus embryos" may be frozen and stored and/or used for research purposes including genetic engineering. The problems arising in this context are dealt with in the next section of this paper. It has to be noted that even if all embryos are reimplanted a number of difficult ethical and legal problems concerning the status and protection of the embryo, etc., remain.

Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby one woman carries a child for another woman with the intention that it should be handed over after birth.53 Surrogacy is used more and more by gay couples and single men who cannot otherwise have their own offspring. Surrogacy agreements may involve different methods of procreation such as natural or artificial insemination, egg or embryo donation. Usually it is a married couple that enters into the arrangement with a surrogate mother who will be either artificially inseminated with the husband's semen or who will receive the embryo after IVF. In most cases the surrogate mother agrees to do this only for a fee but there are also agreements without financial implications. Surrogacy agreements intend that the genetic mother (who produced the egg) will also be the nurturing mother after the child's birth, and that the surrogate mother will only function as carrying mother and surrender the child immediately after birth to the nurturing mother. In practice, however, the genetic mother or parents might change their minds during pregnancy, the surrogate mother might wish to keep the child after birth, or both mothers might wish to abandon the child and the nurturing mother would then be a third woman. Consequently, the ethical and legal problems arising from surrogacy agreements are extremely complicated and have become aggravated by the increasing involvement of commercial agencies.

Human Rights Aspects

Much has been written about the shortcomings of traditional civil and criminal law vis-à-vis these modern techniques of human reproduction. Frequently governments are requested to enact criminal legislation in order to prohibit methods such as genetic engineering or commercial surrogacy agreements In our opinion there is, however, more demand for amendments in the area of family law, contract law, and other fields of civil law. Courts are no longer in a position to provide justice on the basis of existing principles such as mater semper certa est. Many of the issues involved are so controversial and so highly emotional that even ethical commissions find it very difficult to arrive at proper solutions. In the absence of any generally accepted moral or religious standards, human rights have been frequently referred to as the major contemporary guidelines for legislators, courts, ethical commissions, and other competent authorities.

At the first European Ministerial Conference on Human Rights organized by the Council of Europe in Vienna from 19 to 20 March 1985, the French delegation submitted a report on "The Challenge to Human Rights Posed by the Development of Science and Technology," which dealt primarily with the protection of human beings in the context of the progress being made in the fields of biology, medicine, and biochemistry.54 The discussion of this and subsequent attempts to deduce from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms, (ECHR), and from other international treaties such as the CCPR, clearly defined standards for the solution of the manifold problems arising from artificial procreation turned out, however, to be less conclusive than one might hope. There are a number of human rights at stake which have to be balanced, but a definite prohibition of certain techniques or a definite obligation of states to permit certain practices may only in extreme cases be derived from existing human rights law.55

In principle, all methods of artificial procreation developed by modern science aim at creating life and founding a family. Articles 12 ECHR and 23(2) CCPR guarantee the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family. Having children is the major means of founding a family. If a couple is prevented from having children by natural procreation, artificial techniques of human reproduction provide an alternative which is protected by the human right to found a family. Similarly, the right of respect for one's privacy and family life (Articles 8 ECHR and 17 CCPR) prevent arbitrary and unlawful interferences with private family planning. In addition, Article 23(1) CCPR, Article 10 of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and Article 16 of the European Social Charter afford explicit protection by society and the state to the family, which is conceived as the "natural and fundamental group unit of society." Furthermore, freedom of science and research which evolved in the context of freedom of expression56 and which is enshrined in a number of domestic bills of rights57 provides some protection against undue state interference with the further development of research in the fields of biology, medicine, biochemistry, etc.

It should be noted here that the traditional Western European concept of a nuclear family, that is to say husband, wife, and their possible offspring, has become a major point of discussion during the last decade. There is increasing opposition to reserving a number of privileges, such as access to artificial methods of procreation, only to married couples. Although family law as such is rather rigid, in many Western European countries the legislator has to some extent changed over to recognizing unmarried couples as families, including in some countries couples of the same sex,58 thereby conferring the same rights and duties upon them.59

None of these human rights is, however, absolute. Scientists must surrender some freedom of research to society in the public interest,60 the privacy of parents may be restricted for the protection of health or morals, and the desire to have a child cannot justify the exploitation of surrogate mothers or any form of inhuman treatment of children or human foetuses. In other words, all human rights cited above have to be balanced against legitimate public interests, as enumerated, for example, in Article 8(2) ECHR, and against other human rights of the child and other persons involved.

The first right which is usually relied upon as argument against the dangers involved in modern reproductive techniques is the inviolability of human dignity. Article 1 of the German Basic Law of 1949 is, for example, regularly invoked by German courts, lawyers, and scholars in this respect.61 Although respect for human dignity seems to be the foundation of human rights in general, international law does not provide an explicit right to the inviolability of human dignity. In the context of the protection of mental and physical integrity (e.g. Article 3 ECHR, Article 7 CCPR, UN Convention against Torture), not only torture, but also other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is prohibited by international law under any circumstances. Furthermore, Article 10 CCPR guarantees to all persons deprived of their liberty an explicit right to be "treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." Although it would go too far to understand human embryos as "persons deprived of their liberty, " this provision shows that, according to the drafters of the UN Covenants, human beings have an inherent dignity. To the extent that modern techniques of human reproduction or genetic engineering. amount to inhuman treatment of any person involved, states seem to be under an obligation to protect this inherent dignity. The same applies if these techniques would endanger the right to life (Articles 2 ECHR and 6 CCPR) or would amount, as possibly in the case of exploitative surrogacy arrangements,62 to a slavery-like practice as prohibited in Articles 4(1) ECHR and 8(1) CCPR.

How Far May States Restrict Reproductive Techniques?

The right to found a family is independent of the right to marry and includes the right of married or unmarried couples as well as single persons to have children by procreation or adoption.63 The scientific progress achieved in this field undoubtedly demands a dynamic interpretation which includes not only natural, but artificial procreation as well.64 The right to found a family is, however, guaranteed in Article 12 ECHR only "according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right." Since this provision does not speak of restrictions and taking into account that Article 23(2) CCPR does not contain any limitation clause, only certain generally accepted impediments to or requirements for marriage, adoption, and procreation will be admissible. With respect to modern reproductive techniques, legal restrictions on commercial surrogacy arrangements, on experiments with human embryos in vitro and in utero, and on all forms of genetic manipulations might be compatible with the right to found a family. General probibitions of artificial insemination, egg donation, or IVF would, however, violate the right to human reproduction as much as governmental measures of compulsory sterilization, compulsory abortion, or the prohibition on having more than one child.

The protection of privacy and family life includes the rights to individual autonomy, communication (in particular in the emotional sphere), intimacy, and sexuality.65 One may assume, therefore, that artificial means of procreation fall under the scope of privacy. Not every interference with one's privacy is, however, prohibited under international law. Article 17 CCPR only prohibits arbitrary or unlawful interferences, and Article 8(2) ECHR permits any interference which is in accordance with domestic law and "is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." It follows from this broad limitation clause that restrictions of the rights to privacy may go further than regulations governing the exercise of the right to found a family. With respect to modern reproductive techniques, the protection of health or morals, the prevention of crime, or the protection of rights and freedoms of others (in particular the child) might be legitimate objectives for states to restrict the right to privacy. Those restrictions must, however, be provided for by law and be necessary in a democratic society, i.e. proportional to the objective aimed at and acceptable in an open, free, tolerant, and pluralistic society. Although the right to privacy seems to afford less protection than the right to found a family, broad restrictions of artificial insemination and IVF could probably not be justified on the grounds of protecting morals or the rights of others.66 From present practice it is obvious that there is an urgent need to define under which circumstances access to a form of artificial procreation can justifiably be refused, or when the woman/couple is entitled to such treatment.

Article 14 ECHR and Articles 2, 3, and 26 CCPR contain anti-discrimination clauses which have to be taken into account by gavernments in their efforts to regulate artificial procreation. In particular, distinctions on the basis of sex would only be admissible if they are beyond doubt "reasonable and objective." 67 In addition, new distinctions between legitimate an d illegitimate children arising from AID, egg donation, IVF, etc., might constitute discrimination on the grounds of birth.68

Do States Have an Obligation to Restrict Reproductive Techniques?

According to the traditional Western concept of human rights, it is the primary function of civil and political rights to protect the individual against undue state interference. Only in exceptional circumstances do these rights oblige states to protect individuals by positive legislative or other action against interferences by private individuals or entities. Since modern reproductive techniques are normally not carried out by public authorities (apart from doctors or researchers employed in state clinics), human rights provide guidelines for legislative measures rather than strict obligations under international law. This is, however, a very controversial issue among international lawyers. In general, the Strasbourg organs (the European Commission and Court of Human Rights) are more re luctant than, for example, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations to recognize binding legal obligations to positive state action. Furthermore, such obligations also depend on the rights concerned. If provisions stipulate that a given right "shall be protected by law" - as, for example, in the case of the right to life, Articles 2(1) ECHR and 6(1) CCPR, as well as the protection of privacy, the family, and children under Articles 17(2), 23(1), and 24(1) CCPR - this is an indication of a duty of positive state action on the horizontal level.69

Since artificial methods of procreation in principle aim at creating life it would be difficult to deduce prohibitive state measures from the obligation to protect the right to life. Such measures would only be required if certain reproductive techniques constituted an imminent danger to the life of the woman concerned. Under present medical conditions this is, however, not the case.

Similarly, since artificial procreating contributes to the founding of families, no prohibitive state action can be derived from the duty to protect the family under Article 23(1) CCPR. According to Article 24(1) CCPR, every child shall have the right to such measures of protection "as are required by his status as a minor." This formulation, the context of the provision, and the travaux préparatoires lead to the conclusion that the unborn child is not protected.70 Only if certain reproductive techniques would have proven harmful effects on the mental or physical well-being of children after birth would the question of a positive state duty arise. The fact that the drafters of the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989 did not include any specific provision on artificial procreation shows that such negative effects have not been suspected.

With respect to the state obligation under Article 17(2) CCPR to protect individuals by law against arbitrary interferences with their privacy, problems could arise from the anonymity of donors of semen, eggs, or embryos. The right to privacy includes the right to communicate with other human beings and to develop emotional relations such as those between a pregnant woman and her unborn child.71 One might conclude, therefore, that the right of children to obtain knowledge of their genetic parents is also protected by the right to privacy.72 Consequently, anonymous semen or egg banks would violate the child's right to privacy and would also render respect for the prohibition of incest under civil and criminal law impossible, particularly from the second generation onwards.73 If one agrees with this interpretation, states would not only be prevented from legally guaranteeing the anonymity of semen, egg, or embryo donors, but would also have a positive obligation to prohibit such anonymity by law. This has been achieved, as for example in para. 4 of the Swedish law on artificial insemination of 1984.74 In Germany, the Constitutional Court in 1989 deduced the constitutional right of children to obtain knowledge of their parents from the protection of human dignity and the right freely to develop one's personality in Articles 1(1) and 2(1) of the German Basic Law of 1949.75

Most controversial is the question of whether the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 ECHR and Article 7 CCPR contains any obligation of state parties to enact laws restricting modern reproductive techniques.76 Even if one assumes that the unborn child is in principle protected by these provisions, the question of when such protection starts is extremely difficult to answer. Is a human embryo already protected as from the day of conception (thus also in case of IVF?),77 or only after day 14 as suggested in the "Warnock Report," or after day 17, the point at which early neural development beings, or after day 30 when the brain begins to develop, or only after the first trimester of pregnancy, as in the case of several abortion laws?78 Some persons would argue that any method of Al or IVF as such constitutes inhuman treatment; others would only consider the commercial exploitation of human embryos or surrogate mothers as degrading, while yet others do not even regard methods of genetic therapy for aesthetic reasons as infringements of human dignity. Furthermore, even supposing there was a consensus on certain measures as inhuman, the question would remain as to whether states were under an obligation in international law to prohibit them.

We, therefore, arrive at the conclusion that civil and political rights enshrined in present international law oblige states only under extreme circumstances to adopt legislative or other positive measures in order to restrict certain reproductive techniques. This, however, does not take away the responsibility of democratically elected parliaments and governments to enact laws for the regulation of these techniques. The balancing of different human rights will, of course, provide valuable guidance for the objectives of such laws. One matter which is directly related to IVF and embryo donation and which involves far-reaching consequences for the human rights of future generations, the question of medical genetics, will be dealt with in the following section.

Medical genetics


Not until the nineteenth century was systematic attention paid to the way plant and animal characteristics varied from one generation to the next. Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics, spoke about "inherited factors" through which certain characteristics pass. In 1944 studies in the field of microchemistry made a linkage with a chemical substance as the molecular basis of inheritance. In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick, researchers at the Cambridge Laboratory of Molecular Biology, identified the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance in living organisms responsible for passing hereditary factors to new generations. The acid can be found in the nucleus of all living cells and embodies the complete set of inherited attributes (genome). DNA is located in chromosomes, spiral-shaped chains within the cell nucleus. In human beings, each cell nucleus normally contains 46 chromosomes, with 22 pairs of autosomes and 1 pair of sex chromosomes. The latter are responsible for the sex determination of a person and his/her offspring. The basic unit of heredity, which can be found on the chromosome, is called a gene. The word gene in Greek means born or produced. Its position in the chromosome has decisive consequences for the function the gene has.

Within a human being (as in other living species), the heredity determined instructions can be passed through a process of protein synthesis by the DNA. Each gene consists of a small segment of DNA that directs the synthesis of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Since 1967 we know that a special RNA-molecule (ribonucleic acid) serves as a messenger and brings the hereditary information from the cell nucleus to other parts of the cell. RNA does not change the original DNA structures, as its sole role is the communication and organization of the protein production within a cell.

By the union of male and female germ cells (fertilization), a new DNA structure develops, which implies a unique set of inherited traits. By this process we can understand life's diversity.

Alterations in the DNA of a gene, or changes in its location, sequence, or number of nucleotides in one or more genes, cause - among other things - a variation in the hereditary set of instructions. Such mutations are the basis of evolution and normally are caused by a gene-gene and/or gene-environment interaction. This process is usually called natural evolution to distinguish it from artificial changes. As genetic variations determine- among other things both intelligence and abilities, as well as a person's susceptibility to diseases, fertility, life expectancy, abnormalities, and disabilities, mutations can have far-reaching implications.

In the 1960s the potential contribution of genetics to health and health care became more clear. A new science, called medical genetics, evolved. Progress in biochemical and molecular genetics made screening for hereditary and inborn traits possible and focused attention on genetic diseases and disorders. In industrialized countries most prevailing diseases have a genetic component, which may be of a greater or lesser importance.79 There have been discovered about 4,200 diseases caused by a single gene defect (monofactorial). At least the same number of diseases is caused by multiple gene defects (multifactorial), in which multiple genetic and environmental factors are involved. There is a third category of diseases with a genetic origin, caused by abnormalities of chromosome number and structure. An example of the latter is Down's syndrome (mongolism).

By the end of the 1960s medical genetics took screening one step further by introducing methods to diagnose chromsomal and metabolic disorders before birth. Since then impressive progress has been made in pre-natal screening techniques, which go much further than determining the sex of the unborn child.

In 1972 researchers discovered a technique for cutting and splicing DNA, called recombinant DNA technique.80 Although this term is used to mean a variety of activities, the technique is based on the obtaining by artificial means of recombinant DNA, i.e. DNA which contains molecules from various sources.

Thereafter they also learned how to transfer. functional segments of DNA between cells from different species. By these techniques the foundation was laid for changing human characteristics as well as the possibility of creating new forms of life. As a result of the maturing of this new scientific technique, we note that recombinant techniques are now used:

- for selection and improvement in agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry;
- for the production of primary products, raw materials, fuel, chemical products, etc.; and
- to improve the natural environment.81

This technique has also resulted in the development of remedies which contribute to the improvement of human health. In particular we should mention the profitable industrial production of certain substances or products.

Genetic engineering for preventive and therapeutic purposes is aimed at developing appropriate means to prevent or correct pre-symptomatic and pathological defects of the human genome and, where possible, related diseases. In some fields research resulted in successful therapies to restore defective genetic attributes, or eventually to destroy them if that was the only way to prevent more harm.82 These techniques could be said to make a substantial contribution to improving the basic conditions in which to enjoy the right to life, to ensuring for more persons access to a decent and dignified life, and, not least, to obtaining for more persons the benefits of a higher standard of health. These are all positive effects on the enjoyment of human rights, as laid down in the international human rights conventions.

Diagnostic techniques, aimed at the discovery and identification of genetic defects and abnormalities in an early stage, have developed progressively. Testing for genetic disorders (a form of genetic screening) has become a very important tool to predict a patient's medical biology and his/her susceptibility to diseases. The time can be envisioned when virtually all relevant information about an (unborn) person's genotype will be readily accessible. At present, some 10 per cent of frequently prevailing inborn defects are demonstrable through genetic screening methods.83

Most of the currently available tests are based on a technique of comparing small variations in DNA (polymorphism) that can be found on all chromosomes, and using the variables as markers for dysfunctional genes. Up to the present time there have been a limited number of genetic disorders in which the marker technique can be applied. An additional complication is that for each individual a different marker should be identified (the DNA and chromosome structure for each person is different). Important limitations of these indirect testing methods are the inaccessibility of some tissues for testing (e. g. the brain) and the probability that the disease will have manifested itself by the time that the genetic marker is detected. Secondly, there is a necessity for (blood) relatives to participate in such an investigation, as the marker technique presupposes that results can be compared between persons with a similar hereditary structure. This not only has practical implications, but can encounter legal and ethical obstacles as well.

For these reasons microbiologists try to trace the polymorphism that traits and disorders spring from. So far some 400 disorders have been mapped to a particular chromosome. Ten per cent of these disorders have been defined in depth. In each of these cases a DNA test can be used as an instrument for pre-clinical diagnosis of a disease of late onset, as well as for prenatal diagnosis or for detecting if someone is carrying a non-manifest defective gene (carrier).84 Ongoing research is aimed at obtaining a better knowledge of the human genome, including the localization and identification of all genes (gene-mapping), and the development of a wide range of diagnostic testing methods.

DNA research has not solely been aimed at achieving a specific genetic map of the human genome of all individuals and at developing corresponding diagnostic testing methods. DNA researchers have demonstrated a strong incentive to apply their knowledge and to interfere with the hereditary process if genetic disorders are found. Research projects are currently aimed at:

(1) the transformation or destruction of one or more cells that affect in a harmful way an individual person without having injurious effects on his/her offspring (gene transfers of somatic bodily cells); and

(2) the correction of a defective cell by surgical intervention by inserting non-harmful DNA directly into a cell, in case the harmful trait is transmitted to the offspring (gene therapy).

The latter process has far-reaching implications as it also has irreversible effects on future generations. The term "manipulation" has often been used in this context. Under the present state of knowledge gene therapy is not yet possible with human beings. Experiments with animals, however, have shown rather satisfactory results. Particularly experiments with the homologue recombinant method (an exchange of introduced DNA for the defective gene extracted from the cell) are very promising for the enlargement of the scope of application.85 It is therefore not unlikely that progress in recombinant DNA techniques will accelerate the possibility of introducing gene therapy for human beings within a reasonable period of time.

In the meantime new testing methods have been developed which can give far more details on a person's health status, susceptibility to diseases, genetic defects, and the presence of recessive genes, and can predict the effects on procreation, etc., than ever before. Thanks to our current knowledge of the human genome, the scope of the new tests is so much larger that we can speak about a new phase in medical history. In this report we will refer to these advanced testing methods under the common name "genetic" screening.'86

Because of its predictive characteristics, genetic screening may be chosen by an individual as an aid in making personal medical and procreative choices. In this context it would be more appropriate to speak about genetic counselling: to advise and counsel an individual person on the basis of information derived from that person's hereditary and inborn structure through the application of a genetic examination.87

The Impact of Advanced Medical Genetics and Intervention Methods on the Enjoyment of Human Rights

Medical genetics, based on advanced knowledge on the human genome and improved possibilities of predicting a person's health prospects, can thus serve to counsel a person, to assist him/her in taking procreative decisions, and eventually to interfere with certain hereditary traits. The science of medical genetics covers a broad range of subdisciplines, such as immunogenetics, behaviourial genetics, and neurogenetics, but also genetic counselling, genetic screening, and prenatal diagnosis. Always a subject of public concern, at least initially, genetic research and recombinant DNA techniques have been tools particularly dominated by scientists. Public debate included issues involving environ mental health and ethics, risks and dangers, benefits and progress. Scientists have always been divided over potential hazards for humanity and civilization of recombinant DNA techniques. The question as to what extent these techniques can have far-reaching and, particularly, injurious effects on human beings and the human environment has always been hotly debated. This can be illustrated by the voluntary moratorium on recombinant DNA experiments announced by genetic researchers in 1974.88

In the Western European context a strong reluctance and suspicion can be noted towards several forms of recombinant DNA experiments and the introduction of genetic therapeutic methods.

In Germany, where owing to the tragic events of the Second World War89 any form of alteration of human traits has always been treated with distrust, from a very early stage recombinant DNA research was subject to a strict licensing system. In practice this meant an almost insurmountable hindrance for the industry to explore any activities related to gene technology. Despite the relatively mild recommendations of the (FRG) parliamentary investigation commission on "Chancen und Risiken der Gentechnologie" (Opportunities and Risks of Gene Technology) in 1984, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) ruled in May 1988 that the granting of a licence to a company that wished to carry out a project on gene technology would depend on the results of a public hearing.90 More recently, the Kassel administrative court forbade the chemical company Hoechst to produce genetically manipulated human insulin for diabetics. As from the same day the court ordered the company to stop the construction of an experimental station, despite the fact that 60 million Deutschmarks had already been invested in the project.91

In May 1986 Denmark passed a law on genetic engineering, which strictly regulates activities connected with genetic engineering. Denmark has no exemption clauses for work with the so-called well-known microorganisms.92 All production and all experiments in containers larger than 10 litres must be approved before commencement.

And despite the fact that gene therapy in human beings is still impossible, in 1988 the European Medical Research Councils adopted a statement on its applicability and future use.93

In general it could be said that after the initial horror stories and bogeys about the creation of perfect human beings and the elimination of sick and handicapped persons, now, 26 years after DNA was defined for the first time, both the benefits and risks for humanity are more clearly understood with the passing of time. Consequently we are able to give an indication of the impacts of genetic research and its implications for human rights in daily life. The main benefits and risks can be enumerated as follows.


1. Enhancement of the possibilities of guaranteeing the right to a maximum of physical health and consequently also the right to life for human beings through:

(a) the slowing down, if not the prevention, of the outbreak of (some) fatal diseases or other breakdowns of the human body;

(b) the identification of infections by new and better instruments at an early stage, which is essential for the pursuance of a health-promotion policy;

(c) the use of the newly developed therapeutic means to combat congenital and inherited diseases. and defects on an individual level;

(d) the outcome of research into and experimentation with the introduction of genes in bacterial cells, which is conditional for future vaccines and remedies to contain genetic defects;

(e) the deeper understanding of the cell replication process directed by DNA, and thus the biology of living organisms, and

(f) the expanded possibilities for improving the production of food and primary goods.

2. Enhancement of the possibilities of guaranteeing the right to a maximum of health for the individual and society as a whole, both in the present and future generations, through the application of new techniques to promote and manipulate a healthy human genome in the long run. The new techniques to improve the natural environment must be seen as an important precondition for the benefits to be gained from the right to health care.

3. Simpler, faster, and less costly methods to test human beings for genetic susceptibilities and defects.

4. A new method of seeking for objective proof, for example, as a means of identifying family ties (the DNA banks in Argentina) or in criminal proceedings (particularly in the case of sexual abuse).


1. Threats to the right to life, the right to health care, and the rights of posterity by:

(a) the possible creation of hazardous substances, which may cause unknown diseases. and disasters;

(b) the possible transplantation of unknown genetic substances as a result of recombinant DNA techniques with viruses and bacteria. These viruses and bacteria may eventually become pathogenic;

(c) the escape of highly toxic bacteria from laboratories, for example those used in experiments with the implantation of cancer viruses in bacteria;

(d) the resistance microorganisms may build up as a result of recombinant DNA experiments, with all its consequences;

(e) the fact that even experiments with totally purified and identified DNA carry certain risks, as it is not always predictable what reactions DNA recombinant will cause after implantation in the human body; and

(f) the risks relating to the storage of manipulated materials.

2. Threats to the right to human dignity and the rights of posterity, as new forms of life may be developed through genetic manipulation in combination with hybridization.

3. Threats to political rights, as the scientific advances may take directions which impede democratic control.

4. Threats to the right to privacy and the right to mental and physical integrity, as all kinds of medical examinations and interventions with the individual's body may be made compulsory as a result of the advanced knowledge, and newly developed testing and treatment methods (see section on compulsory and mandatory medical examinations).

5. Threats to the right to privacy and the right to human dignity, as knowledge on one's genome may impose heavy psychological burdens, since it may have far-reaching consequences for one's life, health, and parental expectations.

6. Threats to the right to privacy, freedom of movement, and economic and social rights, as third parties may impose restrictions and obligations on individuals on the basis of his/her genome, inter alia in the fields of employment, housing, insurance, travel, etc.

7. Threats to the right to privacy, the right to found a family, the right to education, etc., as, for economic reasons, states may decide to impose conditions and limitations on their citizens. with regard to procreation, access to education, etc., as they may fear that congenital and inherited defects may result in extraordinary or avoidable future expenses.

8. Threat to the right to freedom of movement, the right to seek asylum or refuge and the non-refoulement principle, as for economic reasons (see 7) states may restrict entrance to the national territory of aliens with certain hereditary traits and defects. There is already discussion about a "genetic passport" to be introduced as a travel document for the future.

The latter five points are particularly interesting from the viewpoint of weighing the rights and freedoms of an individual against the interest of other individuals or the community in general. The threat of impairment of the above-mentioned rights as a result of genetic research and its application should be an incentive for states to review their legislation and to adopt, where necessary, laws in order to safeguard respect for human rights within their jurisdiction. States are also confronted with completely new problems, such as the protection of sensitive personal data and the so-called "wrongful life" actions. While most European states already seem to have responded to the threats of undue use of privacy-related information,94 so far little legislation has been promulgated dealing with the inconveniences that human beings might have been saved by having the parents undergo a genetic diagnosis before conception. The improved accuracy in predicting and detecting genetic disorders thus causes new legal problems in the children-parents/guardians relationship, which have already resulted in children suing their parents, and their health-care providers, usually on the ground of negligence, before courts in the USA. Thus, although some of these "wrongful life" actions have already been adjudged in the USA,95 a legal response still needs to be developed in Western Europe. From the American experience it is obvious that legislation is needed to define one's liability towards one's offspring.

Present human rights law already provides us with a structured framework giving clear guidance as to how to interpret different provisions in case of an alleged interference with a recognized right or in the event of a conflict of various rights. States almost always have, however, a certain "margin of discretion" which allows them to balance the interests involved in a proportional way and thus to decide how best to implement the provisions of the treaty. This is particularly true for those rights with a number of "justifiable grounds" for interfering with the embodied guarantees (see Introduction).

The discretionary powers of states to interpret legal provisions differs from right to right. The so-called absolute rights, such as the right not to be subjected to "torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"96 may not be restricted or interfered with under any circumstances. Most of the other rights, however, such as the right to privacy, to information, to freedom of movement, to found a family, etc., are less absolute and can be restricted or interfered with depending on the limitation clause as embodied in the provision concerned.97 In order to be able to weigh the conflicting interests in the case of medical genetics, precise knowledge on the effects - both positive and negative - as well as the impacts on social life and psychological well-being is needed.

As stated above, genetic treatment methods can make an important contribution to improve the "quality of life" and thus to achieve the fulfilment of the right to life and the right to enjoy the highest possible standard of health. Here reference should be made to the fact that, for example in the Netherlands, genetic diseases form the major cause of death in infancy.98 Thanks to techniques such as genetic screening and genetic counselling we are now able to assist individuals in making personal medical and procreative decisions, and to design prompt and adequate public health policies to counter the threat of some diseases or infections. Here genetics is revealed as a real aid in achieving the goals underlying human rights law.

As there are many risks involved in the introduction of genetic techniques, and particularly genetic engineering techniques, pleas have been made for an absolute prohibition of manipulations and experimentations with hereditary substances. In the ethical and legal debate that surrounds the question of permissibility of genetics the arguments advanced by the adversaries vary. The opponents often refer to the fact that through the existence of and enhanced access to genetic techniques, a person's genome and information on the person's genome may become misused by others. This can be the result both of genetic screening and of genetic manipulation. In Western Europe there has traditionally been a very strong environmentalist movement, which is very critical towards the application of genetics in the health-care sector. There is concern about the implications of the increased control over nature - including humanity - and the increased possibilities for the human race to influence its own development. Nazi practices during the Second World War with gipsy twins, homosexuals, and Slavs99 account for this resistance against genetics amongst large sectors of Western European society.

In this respect reference should be made to a classic legal adage which says that "all avoidable suffering should be prevented". With our present knowledge of our genetic system, and techniques derived therefrom to make adaptations in case of disorders, new possibilities for combating and preventing the manifestation of diseases are within reach, at both the individual and the community levels. These possibilities will only come to fruition as long as continued research is directed to the development and improvement of gene therapy. At the same time it cannot be denied that we have an important responsibility towards future generations. This responsibility is not restricted to the often-mentioned protection of our physical environment; we should also guarantee and promote the "highest quality of life," for example by guaranteeing the highest standards of physical and mental health.100 We should be aware that the natural resources the present generation is drawing on belong to the generations that follow us as well. For these reasons, some authors have stated that it is the duty of each human being to strive for the improvement of the conditions of life of future generations - or at least to guarantee for future generations the same standards as they themselves enjoy.101 The corresponding duty of states is to ensure that these aims are met. Human rights of posterity have, however, not yet been defined in international law.

Genetic research can contribute to the prevention of specific environmental threats to the human hereditary structure. More knowledge on inherited factors can result in adequate precautionary and preventive measures to strengthen the immune system and to protect individuals from developing some of the prevailing diseases.

Crucial, however, is the question as to the extent to which genetic interventions ("manipulations") are justifiable under the present international human rights law and, moreover, the extent to which they are ethically acceptable.

The right to health care implies that interventions that induce an improvement in the mental or physical life conditions of a person are acceptable in principle. The informed consent of the person concerned, that is, his/her freely given agreement to undergo a particular genetic intervention after having received all relevant information in a comprehensible manner, is a precondition. The informed consent rule in fact is nothing more than the individual's acceptance that his/her privacy (and possibly physical integrity) is interfered with. As a general rule all persons enjoy the freedom to make individual decisions as long as this does not interfere with the rights and freedoms of others.102 The European Commission of Human Rights has explicitly stated that the right of respect for private life secures for the individual a sphere within which he/she can freely pursue the development and fulfilment of his/her personality.103

As regards the right to health care and practices in the health-care sector we should note that phenotypical interventions and measures as a result of a genetic defect are generally accepted. Persons with a number of diseases having serious life implications, such as haemaphilia, diabetes and, in recent years, hypercholesterolaemia, can live a "normal" life through the availability of modern therapeutic treatments and/or drugs. What, however, could be the rationale for objecting to the removal of the main causes of such life inconveniences, while not disapproving of the suppression of their harmful manifestations? Moreover, there is a general tendency for the differentiation between phenotypical and genetic manipulation to become more and more gradual instead of the two opposing each other. This has also repercussions for the legal treatment of such interventions, which now becomes more similar.

With regard to the adage "all avoidable suffering should be prevented," a number of problems may arise in cases where parents or legal guardians refuse to let their children undergo a medical treatment which, according to objective standards, can be considered essential to guarantee the highest possible level of health or the right to life as such (Article 2 ECHR) to the minor lacking legal competence to decide upon a medical intervention. These problems will only increase as there will be more situations in which attending physicians will recommend medical treatments, notably for preventive reasons, owing to their advanced diagnostic as well as clinical skills. Parents and legal guardians who oppose certain medical interventions risk being relieved of parental control/ guardianship, as the essence of parenthood/guardianship is a duty to care (to guide minors towards adulthood), and not a right to impose limitations upon the lives of minors.104 In the Netherlands the treating physician, on his/her own initiative or on being asked to do so by others, can make a request to the Council for the Protection of Children (Raad van Kinderbescherming) to relieve parents/legal guardians of their right to decide on behalf of the child, in order to make possible the necessary therapeutic interventions as well as safeguard the privacy and physical integrity of the minor. Following established jurisprudence, the Council will accede to such a request, even in cases where the parents/guardians have religious objections to the treatment.105

Considerations with Regard to Genetic Research and the Application of Genetic engineering. Techniques

We have seen that modern genetics allow us to have increasing influence on human beings and civilization, both now and in the future. Although the technique of gene therapy is still in its infancy, the formulation of standards could already be of great assistance to both researchers and society at large. Before reviewing advanced therapies we should pay attention to genetic research programmes, as these precede the development of techniques that can be used to manipulate the genetic attributes of human beings.

Genetic research can be considered as a form of scientific research, usually carried out by microbiologists, chemists, and geneticists. In order to perform their work researchers need a certain freedom of research which is a precondition for the development of society and the evolution of sciences.106 Although there is not an internationally recognized right to freedom of research, the fact that the United Nations General Assembly has recognized that "scientific and technological progress is of great importance in accelerating the social and economic development of the developing countries," and that these developments "provide ever increasing opportunities to better the conditions of life of people and nations," 107 implies that researchers should have the possibility of conducting their work within the framework of the protection of conscience, opinion, information, and expression. This, however, provides no carte blanche for conducting any kind of research considered to be of interest. The fact that research as a general requirement should from both a legal and an ethical perspective be acceptable implies that the freedom of research ends where it interferes with the rights and freedoms, of others.108

This implies, inter alia, that genetic research programmes should have justifiable aims and that their hazards should be carefully assessed. A project that, for instance, aims at the elimination of (groups of) human beings with certain social or outward characteristics is by definition unacceptable. As a general rule research programmes must comply with the principles of societal care and fulfil human rights law. Researchers, consequently, should always work in accordance with high ethical norms and practice the necessary self-regulation. Moreover, their societal integrity should be unquestionable.

Owing to the fact that genetics is a relatively new science surrounded by many incertitudes and assumptions, trials, experiments, and further investigations are essential to extend and improve the knowledge obtained so far. Trials and experiments may need the participation of human beings. Besides the already recognized safeguards against experimentation with human beings and the misuse of power,109 scientists engaged in research are bound by certain specific limitations. As experiments can pose a direct threat to humanity or the natural environment, precautionary measures must be taken to prevent avoidable hazards. Therefore experiments should only be allowed after compliance with physical safeguards. Secondly, in experiments where viruses and bacteria are involved, they should, if possible, be manipulated in such a way that the harm they could possibly produce outside laboratory conditions is minimal. Further, there should be sufficient security for the health status of the researchers and other staff members involved in carrying out the experiments. This may imply a policy which calls for researchers to let themselves be tested for their susceptibility to certain diseases. or affections.

Special directives should guarantee the rights and fundamental freedoms of the subjects of experiments. As a general rule, the "informed consent" of those participating is absolutely essential (see section on "compulsory and mandatory medical examinations"). For the carrying out of a trial, e.g. a clinical trial, all Western European countries have introduced legislation which, in varying degrees, describes the procedures to be followed.110 It goes without saying that these should be observed in all genetic trials involving human beings. To demonstrate the importance the EC attaches to these experiments it should be noted that a draft Directive on clinical trials with drugs is being circulated amongst the governments of the member states and this is eventually to be adopted by the Council of Ministers.111

Concerning the use of genetic engineering techniques on human beings, one should differentiate between the various forms these techniques can take.

Within the category of genetic engineering we can distinguish between the altering of the genetic attributes of cells, a technique that only has implications for the person concerned , and alterations which affect a person's offspring as well. The first kind of genetic engineering is sometimes called "enhancement," and the second category of interventions is called "eugenetica." 112 Enhancement with somatic bodily cells can be compared with organ transplantations. The principle of the implantation of a gene in a complex of genes in another cell is not much different from the transfer of an organ.

It is obvious that eugenetica has implications that reach much further. There is evidence that a school of "eugeniticists" was founded in the United States of America around 1900, in order to protect the "Anglo-Saxon northern race" against the supposed injurious effects of migrants from "southern" and other "lower" origin.113 Therefore, eugenetica needs to be dealt with the greatest caution. The modification (and "purification") of races is in clear contradiction with the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race and ethnic origin, a right underlying a number of human rights treaties and imposing a duty upon states to undertake unequivocal action.114 On the other hand, in situations where fatal diseases can be prevented there seems to be no prima facie contra diction with human rights standards. In cases where the development of these diseases. in future generations can be prevented, the position would be that an important step would have been taken in achieving the highest possible level of health.

On the basis of current human rights law,115 we conclude that therapeutic engineering with irreversible effects on future generations may only be undertaken after strict conditions have been fulfilled. Though it goes without saying that the prevention of diseases is a legitimate goal for health interventions, forms of genetic manipulation must be restricted to the modification of only those human characteristics that are of direct relevance to a person's (and his/her offspring's) present and future health status . In this respect reference should be made to Recommendation 934 (1982) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,116 in which it was proposed to draw up a list of serious illnesses where genetic manipulation would be permissible. The list could be exhaustive, although it would be altered and updated whenever necessary.

A second distinction we can make between forms of genetic engineering concerns those forms of treatment carried out for therapeutic reasons and those for non-therapeutic reasons.

In cases where genetic engineering is applied for non-therapeutic ends, human rights law urges alertness and the highest degree of objectivity, as a solid legal and ethical basis for the application of these forms of treatment is missing so far. Recommendation 1046 (1986) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe completely rejects the introduction of genetic engineering for nontherapeutic purposes.117 There are, however, several reasons why a person could ask for the manipulation of a genetic trait without any obvious physical or mental health purpose in view. These reasons range from aesthetic needs, with psycho-social impacts, to possible implications for the offspring when two persons with a particular genetic structure mate. As stated above, the more such interventions affect future generations, the more severe should be the conditions that have to be fulfilled. It seems unacceptable that a person's progeny should be determined by our present aesthetic values. Changing outward characteristics has nothing to do with the duties and responsibilities towards future generations mentioned before, i.e. the prevention of the outbreak of diseases and the creation of an environment in which the fullest possible expression of the rights and freedoms, of offspring can be ensured. It is obvious that present ethical standards are opposed to the artificial manipulation of germ cells for non-therapeutic purposes.118 The set of rules covering genetic engineering derived from existing human rights standards, in particular the right of all persons - including the unborn child - to be treated with human dignity, seems to underline this conclusion.

The fact that modern genetics is still in its early stages implies that the norms to be drawn up will need regular readjustments. This holds true both for genetic research and the application of the new genetic techniques in the (para-)medical context.

Last but not least, we should be aware of the implications of the advanced genetic sereening techniques. The implications of these techniques can be very serious, as they can reveal essential information that can completely change a person's life perspectives or life expectancy. There is an undeniable threat to the right to privacy and to the right "not to know," which is part of a person's privacy. The danger of using these techniques for other ends is obvious and may jeopardize human autonomy as well as other human rights (see the section on "compulsory and mandatory medical examinations").

Recommendations for Genetic Experiments, Research, and Manipulation on the Basis of Human Rights Considerations

As indicated above, genetic techniques provide us with new possibilities of banishing diseases and promoting the quality of life by improving the prospects for good health. At the same time, however, they involve some serious threats to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Advanced techniques will enable us to analyse in detail a person's inherited attributes and consequently his/her predispositions and susceptibilities to diseases. It is expected that we shall also be able to predict the major characteristics of a person's offspring at a later stage. Simultaneously, developments in the field of recombinant DNA research will allow us to interfere with hereditary traits and manipulate them in a desired direction. Both these increased possibilities, to examine and to manipulate, may jeopardize the right to life, the right to mental and physical integrity, the right to privacy, and - as a consequence of genetic knowledge and restrictions imposed upon individuals - the right to found a family, the right to social security, the right to work, etc. It is therefore absolutely essential to discuss these implications and thereafter draw up guidelines and regulations.

Concerning genetic research and related experiments, discussions should take place on an equitable balance between the principle of freedom of research and the societal responsibility of researchers. Research should be aimed at improving the conditions of life of humanity, both of individuals and of the community as a whole. At the same time it should guarantee an optimal enjoyment of human rights and the preservation of the natural environment.

Guiding, monitoring, and evaluating genetic research is not only to the benefit of scientific progress and those who engage in research, but is above all a guarantee that research is in the long run to the advantage of civilization. Guidelines must be defined which indicate the kind of research programmes that are acceptable inasmuch as they fulfil certain prospective needs, and comply with the necessary security standards and the prescribed procedure that should be completed before a programme can be authorized. The guidelines should not only sum up the legitimate research objectives, but should also define the basic conditions that should be fulfilled to allow genetic Research to be carried out. Regulations must be spelled out with regard to the required safeguards, the acceptability of hazards and other risks, the status of the testee, and the respect for his/her rights and freedoms.

As genetics and genetic research will in the long run have implications for all human beings, it is of the utmost importance that not only scientists and politicians but also the general public should have a say in this matter. Democratic bodies119 could be set up to monitor and evaluate genetic research, as well as to inform society, in an accurate and adequate manner, of genetic activities and the research which is being conducted. The permanent provision of information is an essential condition to enable democratic control to be exercised and to remove unfounded fears.

The seats in such bodies could be allocated according to a fixed quota system. In order to give such bodies actual competencies and authority, a licensing system and research notification schemes could be considered. Such measures would not only facilitate the overview and coordination of ongoing research projects but they would also create opportunities for interfering with wrong moves at an early stage.120

International cooperation is necessary for success. Coordination and the exchange of information is needed at the stage of exploring the type of directives which will respect freedom of research in the most suitable way and which will at the same time guarantee the fullest possible enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Cooperation is also needed at the stage of supervision and monitoring. One should, of course, avoid a situation in which certain experiments are forbidden in some countries but allowed in others. The protection of the natural environment and human values is a common aim of all people, and should be pursued equally in all countries. To this end an international licensing system should be developed. Such a system could, for instance, be set up on a regional basis, taking into consideration the enormous scientific and technological differences between various regions. In the European region the Council of Europe has already made strong efforts to pave the way for the establishment of such a system.

The same should be said about genetic engineering, particularly in the case of genetic therapy. Because of its far-reaching and often irreversible consequences, obtaining the patient's "informed consent" seems even more urgently called for than in the case of "ordinary" medical interventions.121 On the other hand, these far-reaching consequences for future generations mean that the protection of the right to privacy is no longer sufficient by itself. In principle a person is fully autonomous in his/her decisions as long as these decisions have no direct impact on others. If an activity goes beyond this core of an individual's private sphere, the protection of individual autonomy has to be balanced with other societal values and, in particular, the rights and freedoms, of others, including those of future generations. In other words, the principle of "informed consent" provides a guarantee for the protection of privacy only if the consequences of the medical treatment concerned are clearly restricted to the person giving this consent.

General rules should be formulated on the admissibility and conditions for genetic interventions with human beings This requires that national and/or international mechanisms be set up to guide and direct this process. On the basis of the above outline, we recommend that the charter or guidelines concerned should cover at least the following issues.

The Risk Factors

Hazards may not only threaten our natural environment but will have implications for the right to life and well-being of the present and future generations. This requires that sufficient safeguards be formulated. Recombinant DNA techniques may well be applied to develop new biological weapons. So far only international negotiations122 that have resulted in concrete agreements have succeeded in making states accept self-restrictions.

Genetic manipulations may also be used in the medical and paramedical sectors in an unforeseen way. The professional medical codes for physicians may need to be evaluated and adapted to the new situation.123

As a precautionary measure safeguards need to be adopted to prevent unqualified or incompetent persons from applying genetic techniques within the context of their profession . To avoid the misuse of these techniques within therapeutic settings, an exhaustive list of diseases and disorders should be drawn up to define the situations in which genetic engineering is allowed. This would also improve legal security, both for clients and for geneticists.

Societal Control

Geneticists have undeniable social responsibilities when performing their profession. This implies that there is no absolute freedom concerning the choice of subjects to be studied, the manner of carrying out experiments, and the ways in which geneticists can apply new forms of treatment when dealing with patients. certain forms of control, eventually combined with an international licensing and monitoring system, should be set up.

In the European context, the Council of Europe, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), and the European Community could assume certain tasks in this field. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was the first international organ to call explicitly for such cooperation in the field of genetic engineering. and the use of human embryos and foetuses.124 Probably the Council of Europe would be the proper organization to draw up a specific convention on medical genetics that could attempt to define some minimum human rights of future generations. The implementation of such a new convention should be entrusted to the organs of the European Convention on Human Rights or to a newly created independent European court or expert body on medical genetics.

The harmonization of national directives and genetic research agenda are already urgently needed, as research in general has become increasingly international, while modern forms of information and mobility enable individual citizens to go to a country in which a particular (non-)therapeutic genetic engineering technique, not permitted in the individual's own country, can be requested.

The Right to Privacy, Notably Access to and Protection of Personal Data

As shown above, advanced genetic screening techniques provide the possibility of getting detailed information on a person's present health status, including a person's inherited and congenital defects and susceptibilities. Information on these traits may be requested not only by the person concerned - the right to privacy implies a right to have access to all relevant information concerning one's health status- but also by third parties. Third parties may have various reasons to feel that it is legitimate to have access to personal information concerning others. Methods of achieving this would include having access to data stored elsewhere and subjecting a person to an examination.

To avoid misuse, rules need to be laid down regarding conditions under which a third party can be allowed to restrict a person's privacy (and possibly breach confidentiality). As stated above, interferences with the right to privacy should fulfil the criteria of legitimacy, legality, and proportionality, and, not least, they should be carried out in a non-discriminatory manner.125

Information about a person, such as medical files, the results of medical examinations, etc., enjoys the strict protection of the right to privacy and data protection.126 In the case of a genetic examination, this implies that the treating geneticist has a duty to respect confidentiality. Subjecting individuals to genetic examination, as a condition for obtaining or avoiding the loss of a benefit or status, or being allowed to participate in some activity, is another method of obtaining personal health information and should be judged within the limits allowed under the right to privacy.

The Right to Privacy, Notably the Enjoyment of Autonomy

Genetic experiments, research, screening, counselling, engineering, therapy, and other forms of engineering and manipulation can seriously jeopardize the right of the individual to determine his/her own life, lifestyle, and personality, and can threaten the individual's right to privacy as well as the right to mental and physical integrity. The "informed consent" principle should be applied to any new situation that might arise to secure for the individual the maximum benefit of these new techniques, while at the same time preventing his or her being at the mercy of geneticists and genetic counsellors. On the other hand, directives and regulations have to be drawn up to define to what extent an individual has a right to genetic advice and which forms of genetic (non-)therapeutic treatment can be asked for.

Qualifications for Geneticists and Genetic Counsellors

Codes of conduct for all those with a professional role in the field of genetics should be promulgated and should include the legal rights and duties of geneticists and genetic counsellors, and their obligations towards their clients and third parties. These codes should detail patients' rights as well as emphasize such rights.

Although the benefits and risks of genetic techniques have become better understood, the exact consequences of genetic research and enhanced diagnostic prospects still cannot be fully assessed. Care and caution are essential, as we may provoke irreversible changes. As the genetic sciences advance, the legal framework needs, to be regularly checked and adjustments made. The code of conduct for those engaged in genetics is an essential component of this framework, and in a way is a guarantee that the exploitation of genetic opportunities will be to the advantage of the whole of human civilization.

Compulsory and mandatory medical examinations


Patients request their physicians to carry out medical examinations in order to acquire information on their susceptibility to certain diseases or to obtain general or specific knowledge on their health status. In other cases physicians take the initiative for such examinations if they have had certain objective suspicions or doubts about the patient's health and consider that more detailed diagnosis could be helpful. Depending on the nature of the "complaints" or other criteria, some physicians carry out medical examinations on a routine basis. the latter procedures also depend on national health practices and the rules governing the patient-physician relationship.

In exceptional cases, specific health-related examinations are carried out on a mandatory or on a compulsory basis.127 Health authorities used to state that they needed precise epidemiological data on certain prevailing diseases to design accurate and appropriate health intervention policies. There have been cases in which the results of a medical examination have been used as a basis for ostracizing or isolating "contagious" citizens or denying entrance to the country to aliens with specific diseases. The latter policy in particular has been applied in cases of epidemic diseases. , such as bubonic plague, typhoid, poliomyelitis, cholera, etc.128 It is obvious that such testing policies jeopardize the right to the protection of private life and a person's physical integrity. In this section we will analyse the circumstances under which human rights law justifies the carrying out of compulsory or mandatory medical examinations, and which entities are authorized to do so.

With regard to medical examinations, we have first to give a more precise definition of such an examination. Within the framework of this study we understand by a medical examination all methods used to obtain information on an individual's physical health status in the broadest sense. Such examinations include health status questionnaires, tests of a predictive nature such as those to measure a person's medical biology or susceptibilities to diseases, and tests to measure a person's consumption pattern, such as for alcohol or drugs. Owing to their impact, the definition also includes tests carried out in relation to human procreation and prenatal diagnostics. Following this definition, medical examinations are not always bodily invasive- and thus do not automatically interfere with a person's physical integrity.

Testing methods have developed in a revolutionary manner in the past decades. This has gone hand in hand with the technological innovations that have radically changed our societies. To an important extent, the development of more sophisticated testing methods has been made possible through better insight into and understanding of the human being's inherited substances (see section on "medical genetics").

Since these advanced diagnostic techniques are available, medical examinations are frequently carried out in both medical and non-medical settings. In the latter situation the examination is often prescribed by non-state entities. While for employers medical examinations have become a means of selection, for insurance companies they are an instrument to assess their financial risks in accepting an individual. Medical examinations can also be used as legal evidence in civil and criminal proceedings (e.g. to measure the level of alcohol in a person's blood or to identify sexual offenders). Here several human rights questions arise, notably those concerning the legitimacy and proportionality of the interference with an individual's privacy as well as with his/her physical integrity.

Taking into consideration the risks involved and the possible far-reaching consequences of a particular test result, there are clear requirements concerning the persons authorized to carry out a medical examination and the way in which to do so. As a general rule only persons with an acceptable medical background and who are licensed as a "physician" are entitled to do so.129 Their educational background should be a guarantee of their skill in making the most accurate diagnosis of an individual case, without exposing the person concerned to unnecessary risks or causing avoidable injuries. At the same time professional codes oblige physicians to exercise the greatest possible care within the physician-patient relationship, particularly with regard to confidentiality and the storage of personal information.130 Some of these provisions are also incorporated in legal codes, which give patients a remedy in case they feel that their physician has infringed his/her duties.

It is important to note that medical examinations are primarily a means by which medical sciences are used to assist an individual by providing him/her with personal health information, eventually enabling him/her to ask for medical intervention or to take appropriate precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of disease. Since more advanced genetic examination methods have been developed, personal-health-related information can be obtained and used as an aid for procreative decisions or to calculate a person's life expectations. Medical examinations traditionally belong within the framework of the physician patient relationship and therefore the rights and duties of both parties fully apply in the examination situation.

The results of a medical examination and other information concerning a person's health status can be defined as "privacy-related data" and consequently enjoy the protection of the right to privacy (see Introduction). The unauthorized disclosure of health information is considered to be a "breach of confidentiality," and is regarded as an interference with the right to privacy. This may also hold true for passing health-related information to a spouse/partner and relatives.131 In this section we will analyse the circumstances under which such interferences with a person's privacy can be justified and what conditions have to be fulfilled.

Owing to its sensitive nature, in Western Europe health information may not be processed automatically, "unless domestic law provides appropriate safeguards" 132 The implications for threats to privacy are clear. Although the importance of this issue can hardly be overestimated, we have decided not to elaborate on it and to confine ourselves to the legitimacy and legality of mandatory and compulsory medical examinations as such.133

The Principle of "Informed Consent"

As a medical examination is a far-reaching intervention in an individual's private life and often also his/her physical integrity, the usual procedure requires that the person, or institution, prescribing such an intrusion into a person's privacy obtain the testee's freely given consent to carry out the examination. Within medical settings, as in health legislation and medical ethics, the term "informed consent" is commonly used to express the patient's willingness to under-go an examination (or other medical treatment) and thus accept a breach of his/ her privacy and physical integrity.134 It is important to note here that a person can only agree to undergo a medical examination after having acquired sufficient knowledge and understanding of all elements and implications of the examination so as to enable him/her to make a carefully considered decision. The person concerned can only give his/her voluntary consent when he/she can exercise free power of choice without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion. Moreover, the individual should also have the legal capacity to give consent.

If all these conditions have been fulfilled and if the individual gives his/her "informed consent," then we can speak of a voluntary medical examination. Such an examination does not constitute an unlawful restriction of a human right, as the individual concerned has voluntarily accepted such an interference with his/her privacy and physical integrity. Freedom of contract is part of one's individual autonomy. An individual is free to give up one or more assured rights or freedoms when this is for the best for that individual (e.g. to obtain a diagnosis in order to improve one's health perspectives).

The "informed consent" principle, which directly derives from the right to privacy, can only be overruled in exceptional cases. Under human rights law, forced intervention with an individual's privacy is only justifiable when the measure is founded on a legal provision, serves a legitimate aim, is proportional, and fulfils a pressing social need.135 It is even argued that a state should approve of such a measure only on the basis that there is no alternative, less intrusive, means available to get a comparable result.136

The protection of public health is mentioned in Article 8 ECHR as one of the grounds that can be invoked to restrict the individual's right to privacy. However, this does not automatically justify the restriction. We will further elaborate on this below. It is crucial to know, however, that generally a person's "informed consent" is required to carry out a medical examination. In exceptional and narrowly described cases, the "informed consent" rule can be omitted.

The "informed consent" principle is not only the leading principle for carrying out a medical examination: it is also a necessary condition for confronting him/her (or third parties) with the test results. One should realize that the "informed consent" principle in the case of a medical examination is many-sided. First of all, the testee should agree to be treated by a particular health-care provider (freedom of contract). Secondly, the testee should consent to all the medical treatments he/she will be subjected to and indicate what the health-care provider is allowed to do with the test results (the follow-up stage). Both parties to the contract should have a clear and similar understanding of the contents of the freely reached agreement.137

With regard to the disclosure of the results of a medical examination, the parties should determine to whom, if anybody, the test results will be passed. There are, for example, testing programmes that take place within the context of epidemiological research, for example to measure the prevalence of certain traits in a sample population. In these situations it is not uncommon for the trial subject not to be informed about the results of the individual examination.338 On the other hand, in the case of a medical examination carried out on the initiative of a patient, it is most unusual for the test result to be withheld from the patient.139

For the purpose of this study it is important to note that personal health information is considered to be a personal good.140 Therefore it is up to the testee to determine who can have access to this information. In the case of a medical examination, a testee is justified in determining that he/she does not want to know the test result himself/herself (the right not to know). A physician is only authorized to disclose the test result to the testee after the testee has voluntarily agreed ("consented after having received all information") to receive these results. A physician who nevertheless decides to pass the test result to the testee may be found guilty of violating the privacy of the testee.141

Closely related are the situations in which a physician by coincidence discovers some important facts concerning the health status of a patient during a medical examination. The "informed consent" rule states that this information can only be passed to the individual if he/she has previously indicated willingness to receive such information. In these kinds of situations, the "informed consent" rule should not be interpreted too rigidly. The physician should weigh up the testee's psychological make-up and consider all foreseeable advantages and disadvantages before deciding whether to confront the testee with the information or not. In the event of the discovery of a disease or disability, an important factor will be if there is or is not a cure or therapy for the diagnosed disease or disability. After having carefully considered all these questions, interference with the testee's privacy may be declared justifiable, despite the fact that the testee's "informed consent" was missing.

Compulsory Medical Examinations by the State

Within the context of human rights laws, states are authorized to take certain measures entailing compulsion even if these interfere with one or more recognized rights or fundamental freedoms. The grounds for promulgating such measures are generally embodied in a general or specific legal provision. For a number of human rights this is even explicitly prescribed, as if to guarantee the fullest possible enjoyment of these rights. 142

As stated above, a medical examination as such interferes with the testee's privacy, and often also with his/her physical integrity.143 The international human rights treaties in which the right to privacy is contained permit states to restrict this right under a number of circumstances. Although the conditions in which this can be done are usually quite clear, the grounds on which a state should make its decision are of an uneven nature and not always very evident, and are thus difficult for an outsider to weigh. States often have to balance the interests of individuals against the interests of the community - sometimes a very difficult task.144 Here it should be noted that states have a responsibility to protect general interests, among them "national security, public safety," as well as "health. . . and the rights and freedoms, of others," and thus are justified in promulgating appropriate measures, even if they thereby restrict an individual right, such as the right to privacy. Though, according to the general principles of public action, these measures should be relevant, proportional, effective, feasible, and ethically acceptable, and should balance conflicting values, states possess rather broad discretionary powers to weigh these different interests.145 The Strasbourg organs have adopted the margin of appreciation doctrine, with reference to the "responsibilities of Government for maintaining law and order. . ." 146 Therefore it cannot always be said that these organs "ensure the observance of the engagements undertaken by the High Contracting Parties in the present Convention" (Article 19 ECHR).147 Nevertheless, in the course of years the contents of the several "justifiable aims" have crystallized, if not directly by way of judicial decisions then at least indirectly by statements made by legal experts and authoritative international bodies and in the literature.

In order to avert threats to public health or for any of the other policy goals which may be invoked as a legitimate reason for restricting human rights, states have repeatedly imposed far-reaching restrictions on individuals with diseases that might give rise to quarantine.148 The danger that another person may be exposed to the risk of acquiring a serious - and maybe fatal - disease which might easily have been avoided is a serious threat to his/her right to life and a breach of the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment.149

Compulsory testing, however, was, and can only be considered, a justifiable interference with the individual's privacy when it is considered the most efficient means of halting an infectious disease. In other words, the infringement of the individual's privacy (and physical integrity) may be considered necessary when thereby the spread of a contagious - and dangerous - disease can be prevented. This particularly holds true for diseases. in which infection may take place through simple physical proximity or casual human contact, such as plague or tuberculosis.

Compulsory testing can also be considered if there is evidence that a person is wilfully spreading a disease, thus threatening the rights and freedoms, of others. Here a medical examination may be considered in an individual case, generally in the context of a criminal charge against the person concerned. Penal law may prescribe the subjection of the suspected person to a number of examinations essential to determine the rightness of the claim.150 The European Commission of Human Rights has repeatedly stated that medical (and psychological) examinations may be an essential component of the preliminary investigation and justify the interference with the rights and freedoms of the suspected person.151

In Western European countries, contagious diseases are generally dealt with in the infections (or epidemic) diseases. laws, or an appendix thereto. The harm and human suffering these diseases may cause to others were considered of such importance as to justify a systematic policy of trying to identify persons who may be infected. In the first place this includes the group of persons to whom, there are objective reasons to believe, transmission of the disease (or virus) has taken place. These contact-tracing policies almost automatically include compulsory testing of these contacts in order to be able to contain the disease. Here the rights and freedoms of others are considered to outweigh the right to privacy of the individual.

With regard to these restrictive measures, it should be noted that there is a general trend to use legislation in a supportive way in the field of protection of public health. Legislation should first and foremost enable the implementation of efficient and humane prevention and information policies. This was reflected by the list of recommendations accepted at a European consultation on "Health Legislation and Ethics in the Field of AIDS and HIV Infection" (Oslo, 26-29 April 1988). Some of the recommendations read as follows:

2. Existing laws for the prevention and control of infectious diseases should be reexamined to ensure that they are up-to-date to deal with this epidemic and to protect the rights of the individual and the community [emphasis added];

3. Traditional legislative measures in the field of public health should be re-evaluated to assess their effectiveness and the ethical acceptability in relation to this epidemic;

4. Health legislation should be used in a positive way to promote and support health education and the distribution of information that can be provided by the public with the means for voluntary behavioural change [emphasis added];

5. The importance of certain long-standing legal provisions, particularly those for confidentiality, must be re-emphasized. Clearly, the maintenance of confidentiality is too often threatened by administrative, technological and other developments.152

Although a state can still decide to pursue a policy of compulsory medical examinations, from a human rights and public health perspective there are two other factors that should always be weighed before a decision is actually taken. Discrimination and stigmatization of persons with the disease (or infection) concerned and all those perceived to be "at risk" is a frequently reported human reaction, particularly in case of a fatal disease. It is now acknowledged that discrimination and stigmatization can undermine the overall objectives of public health policy. The people concerned may actively avoid any contact with the health-care services out of fear of becoming further marginalized. With regard to AIDS this was stated at a UN/WHO consultation as follows:

5.9 To prevent HIV infection actively, persons whose behaviours place them at risk of exposure to HIV must be informed, educated and provided with health and social support. Persons suspected or known to be HlV-infected should remain integrated with society to the maximum possible extent and be helped to assume responsibility for preventing HIV transmission to others. Exclusion of these persons would be unjustified in public health terms and would undermine the public health programme to prevent HIV.

5.10 For these reasons, discrimination endangers public health; stigmatization itself represents a threat to public health. In summary, protecting human rights and dignity of HlV-infected people, including people with AIDS, and members of population groups, is not a luxury- it is a necessity...153

The conclusion is that states may engage in a policy of compulsory examinations, although for public health reasons this is only justified as an appropriate measure to contain a disease in a very restricted number of situations. The rights of the individual should be carefully weighed against the rights of the community, notably the right to health care and the rights and freedoms of others. Moreover, the principle involved points to the duty to study the possibility of achieving the desired results by less restrictive measures, e.g. policies aimed at promoting particular health styles and informing people how to avoid risky contacts.

Mandatory Examinations by Private Individuals, Companies, and States

As briefly indicated above, there is an undeniable trend to apply medical examinations in a wider and particularly in a non-medical context. Although a person's health status is in the first place of relevance to the person concerned, it is obvious that it has various implications for others as well. An employee who becomes unfit to perform his/her work generally claims alternative work, thus affecting the labour process, or may even apply for a disability benefit, thus placing a financial burden on the employer and/or insurance company. Early death increases the chances that the spouse/partner will claim a benefit, etc. These and other reasons explain why many private individuals (in their personal capacity or as representatives of a private company or state institution) have a strong interest in obtaining personal health information from private citizens. particularly since some of the life inconveniences can be calculated by subjecting individuals to a predictive medical examination. The interest in obtaining such information is particularly strong in cases where a party takes a financial risk by entering into a contractual relationship with another individual. Therefore the question arises to what extent private individuals, companies, or states are allowed to make access to a service or social good conditional on the results of a medical examination.

If the state provides for mandatory examinations, such an interference with the right to privacy is only permissible if it is imposed in accordance with the law, is in the interest of a legitimate objective as laid down in Article 8(2) ECHR, and is necessary in a democratic society, i.e. proportional to the objective aimed at. If a Traffic Road Act provides, for example, for a mandatory medical examination as a precondition to obtaining a driver's licence, such a regulation may be considered to be necessary in the interests of public safety, the protection of health and the rights of others. In order to fulfil the principle of proportionality the testing must, however, be restricted to medical requirements for driving a motor vehicle, such as an eye test. The medical examination of an aircraft pilot may obviously be much more demanding.

Much more difficult to answer is the question of where the limits for mandatory examinations by private employers, insurance companies, schools, etc., should be drawn. As has been explained in the introduction, both Article 17(2) CCPR and Article 8 ECHR provide individuals with the protection of the law against arbitrary and unlawful interferences with a person's privacy by another private person. In the exercise of their obligations to protect privacy against interferences on the horizontal level, states, however, enjoy a fairly broad margin of discretion. If a private company selects its personnel by means of a psychological test, or if a life insurance company makes its services subject to a medical certificate, certainly no duty of the state arises to prohibit such practices. Moreover, it would even be questionable whether such a legal prohibition would not unduly interfere with the freedom of contract (derived from the right to privacy) and the right to property of the company concerned. On the other hand, if a state were to enact, for example, a law prohibiting mandatory HIV tests of school pupils, such a law could certainly be considered as a legitimate protection against interferences by private or public schools. Whether a state is, however, obliged by virtue of Article 17(2) CCPR to enact such a law if negative HIV tests were made an admission requirement for private schools is doubtful. If only black, Jewish, Muslim, or female children were required by private schools to undergo a medical examination, this would constitute an arbitrary interference with their privacy, which a state would be under a legal obligation to prohibit. Otherwise it would violate its duty under Articles 2(1) and 17(2) CCPR to ensure to all individuals, without distinction on the grounds of race, colour, sex, or religion, the right to the protection of the law against arbitrary interference with their privacy. In the General Comment 16/32 of 23 March 1988, the Human Rights Committee has explicitly stressed the duties of states parties to the CCPR "to provide the legislative framework prohibiting such acts154 by natural or legal persons.'' 155

These examples show that the right to privacy affords a rather limited protection against mandatory examinations required by private persons or entities. Only in extreme cases do states have an obligation legally to prohibit interference with another person's privacy on the horizontal level. It is thus primarily in their discretionary power which cases of mandatory examinations they permit and which they prohibit in the interest of the right to privacy.

Another question is to what extent and in which cases it is permissible to make a selection on the basis of a person's health status. Making access to services and social goods, such as employment, social insurance, and education, conditional on a good health status might contradict the non-discrimination principle. It also creates problems concerning the duty of states to guarantee the right to work (Articles 6 and 7 CESCR and Articles 1 and 2 ESC), the right to social security (Articles 9 CESCR and 12 ESC), and the right to education (Article 13 CESCR and Article 2 of the First Additional Protocol to the ECHR). While, on the one hand, it can be argued that the duty to treat people equally only applies to situations in which people are really equal, it is clear that we are dealing with slightly different situations that may, however, be comparable. The key question is thus under what circumstances a person's health status is a justifiable selection criterion.

Article 26 CCPR entitles all persons to the "equal protection of the law. The law shall guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." A person's health status is not included in this list. It could only be subsumed under the criterion of "other status." From this it follows that even a legal distinction based on a person's health status must be extremely unreasonable or arbitrary to constitute discrimination in violation of Article 26 CCPR.156 Consequently, the obligation of states to protect individuals against selection criteria by private companies based on a person's health status must be considered as minimal.157

The case may be different, however, if the enjoyment of human rights such as the right to work, social security, and education is made subject to a particular health status. According to Article 9 CESCR, states parties recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance. If in a given state health insurance were only offered by private insurance companies, and if all of them refused to accept a person who had acquired a certain disease, this person would be denied a right to social insurance on the ground of his or her health status. Consequently, the state concerned would violate Article 9 in connection with the anti-discrimination clause in Article 2(2) CESCR. It would be under an obligation either to offer public health insurance without any distinction or to force private insurance companies by law to refrain from making their services dependent on the customer's health status.

The same argument holds true for the right to education and in principle also for other economic, social, and cultural rights, such as the right to work. If a private school owner, for example, refused admission to a child on the ground that he/she had a contagious disease such decision would not amount to discrimination as long as it could be justified as necessary to protect the right to health of other schoolchildren and/or the school's employees. Even the most contagious disease must, however, not deprive a child of its right to education under Article 13 CESCR. It is a duty of states parties under Article 2(2) CESCR to guarantee that all rights enumerated in this Covenant will be exercised without discrimination. In practice, however, there exists very little legislation regulating the selection procedures for employment,158 insurance,159 and education.

Passing of Medical Information to "Third Parties"

Confidentiality is the expression used to describe the special nature of the physician-patient relationship. According to the International Code of Medical Ethics of the World Medical Association, "A physican shall preserve absolute confidentiality on all he knows about his patient even after the patient has died." Passing personal health-related information to a third party without the patient's prior consent thereto is considered as an interference with the patient's right to privacy.160 A treating physician also has to respect secrecy in his relationships with physician colleagues.161 Although the physician's duty to respect confidentiality is not absolute,162 the legal dilemma is obvious. Deviations from these rules are only possible if all conditions to restrict the right to privacy are fulfilled (see above)163 or in the exceptional situation of conflicting duties164 for the physician.

Confidentiality is crucial to the patient-physician relationship. As long as a patient knows that all the efforts his/her physician makes are in the interest of his/her health, normally he/she will be willing to cooperate. Moreover, a patient who has confidence in his/her physician and knows that the information he/she gives will not be passed on to third parties is more likely to reveal all the facts and tell the absolute truth, so that the physician can make an optimal diagnosis of his/her case.

According to the rules of the physician-paticnt relationship, the physician primarily has a duty and responsibility to inform his/her patient on his/her health status. In the second stage the physician and patient should decide jointly whether to pass the information obtained to a third party or not. It is only in a very narrowly defined number of cases that a physician is allowed to inform a third party without first asking the patient concerned for his/her permission.

It follows from the above that a physician who works as an intermediary between a patient and, for example, an employer in case of a pre-employment examination has primarily a responsibility towards his/her patient. As soon as there is an (implicit) treatment agreement between the physician and the patient, the employer will become the third party. The rules of confidentiality derived from the right to privacy prescribe that the physician should first of all inform the patient about the results of the examination. Unless agreement is reached to act differently, the patient remains entitled to refuse to permit the passing on of the test results to the employer, who is the third party.

States have a general duty to secure respect for these rules in vertical relations. It is unacceptable that the use of advanced medical examination techniques, particularly in a non-medical setting, should become a new selection criterion to exclude large numbers of people.


We have discussed the relationship between advanced methods of medical treatment and human rights with respect to three particular fields: medical examinations, artificial procreation, and medical genetics. There exist, of course, a number of further topics, such as organ transplantation and similar methods of advanced medical treatment, which have a direct impact on human rights. All of them reveal, however, certain common characteristics which can be summarized as follows:

1. As in other fields of modern technology (industry, agriculture, electronics, etc.) new developments cause a number of serious dangers to human rights. Above all, the individual's right to privacy is infringed upon if, for example, states introduce arbitrary compulsory medical examinations for the prevention of contagious diseases such as AIDS, if private employers or insurance companies make their jobs or services subject to mandatory medical tests and pass medical information on to other institutions, if semen, egg, and embryo banks do not disclose the identity of their donors, or if human embryos created by in vitro fertilization are subjected to experiments against the will of their parents. the right to physical integrity and human dignity might be violated by certain methods of compulsory medical examination and genetic engineering. Economic, social, and cultural rights such as the right to work, housing, and social security are frequently restricted as a direct result of modern screening techniques. Since these methods are not infrequently applied in a discriminatory manner, the right to equality is also at stake. Finally, methods of gene therapy and manipulation have irreversible effects and interfere with the human rights of future generations. States have, therefore, an obligation under international law to respect these human rights and to protect them against any undue interference.

2. More than in other technological fields, however, the advanced methods of medical treatment also have also a very positive impact on human rights. As a general rule, medical research, experimentation, and treatment are directed at improving health services and are, therefore, a necessary requirement for ensuring the individual's right to health care. A satisfactory health status is an essential element of the human right to an adequate standard of living and contributes to the enjoyment of the most fundamental human right, the right to life. All methods of artificial procreation aim at improving the right of men and women to found a family. Consequently, these and other human rights such as freedom of research oblige states in principle to respect and to encourage the further development of medical research and treatment.

3. In order to comply in an appropriate manner with these diverse international obligations and to solve the rapidly increasing problems caused by new technological developments in the fields of medicine, biology, and genetics, we observe that there is an urgent need for parliaments, governments, and international organizations to take adequate legislative and other measures. One of the first questions to deal with concerns the meaning of the non-discrimination principle, notably on the grounds of health status, and its applicability both in horizontal and vertical relations. These and other decisions by democratically elected political bodies should be the result of carefully balancing all human rights involved.

4. A careful legal analysis of the existing international human rights law shows, however, that these human rights standards only in exceptional cases provide clear and legally binding obligations for states either to refrain from certain actions or to take particular positive measures with the purpose of preventing private individuals and entities from acting in contravention of human rights.

5. In most cases international human rights must, therefore, be considered as guidelines rather than as binding obligations. There might, however, be a need to draw up new and more specific human rights, for instance a catalogue of patients' rights and rights of future generations, including binding obligations of states to regulate horizontal relations between private individuals and entities in the spirit of human rights.



African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights


American Convention on Human Rights


American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man


Artificial insemination


Artificial insemination using semen from donor


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome


Artificial insemination using semen from husband


Covenant against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


Council of Europe


International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination


International Covenent on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights


Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe


Decisions and Reports of the European Commission of Human Rights


European Community


European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms


European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment


European Social Charter


Human immunodeficiency virus


Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture


In vitro fertilization


Universal Declaration of Human Rights


United Nations


World Health Assembly


World Health Organization


World Medical Association


1. Cf. Z. Kedzia, "Accession of Non-Member States to the European Convention on Human Rights," Expert Study for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 1990), (Council of Europe Document AS/Jur (42) 4).

2. Cf. P. van Dijk and G.J.H. van Hoof, De Europese Conventie in theorie en prattijk (Ars Aequi Libri, Nijmegen, 1990);J.A. Frowein and W. Peukert, Europäische Menschenrechtshonvention - EMRK - Kommentar (Engel, Kehl/Strasbourg/Arlington, 1985).

3. Cf. Andrew Drzemczewski, European Human Rights Convention in Domestic Law (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983).

4. Cf. M. Nowak, "The Implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights in Austria," in N. Mikkelsen, ed., The Implementation in National Law of the European Convention on Human Rights (Danish Centre of Human Rights, Copenhagen, 1989); F. Ermacora, M. Nowak, and H. Tretter, eds., Die Europäische Menschenrechtshonvention in der Rechtsprechung der österreichischen Höchstgerichte (Braumüller, Vienna, 1983).

5. Cf. P. van Dijk, "Domestic Status of Human Rights Treaties and the Attitude of the Judiciary - The Dutch Case," in M. Nowak, D. Steurer, and H. l retter, eds., Progress in the Spirit of Human Rights - Festschrift fur Felix Ermacora (Engel, Kehl am Rhein/Strasbourg/Arlington, 1988), p. 631; L. Zwaak, "The Implementation of International Human Rights Treaties in the Dutch Legal Order," in Mikkelsen (note 4 above), p. 40.

6. Cf. A. Lester, "The Prospects for Incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into United Kingdom Law," in Mikkelsen (note 4 above), p. 72.

7. Cf. M. Nowak, "Adhesion of Non-Member States to the European Convention on Human Rights," Expert Study for the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, 1990), p. 10 (Council of Europe Document AS/Jur (42) 3).

8. See, for example, case 5935/72, X v. Federal Republic of Germany, Yearbook XIX (1976), pp. 284-286. In this case, concerning the legitimation of a restriction on the right to private life (Article 8 ECHR), the European Commission of Human Rights clearly stated that to make a decision on the admissibility of such a restriction it takes into account the latest developments within the country as well as outside the national context.

9. In this contribution the words "physician" and "patient" are used as general terms to refer to the providers and recipients of health care. Although we are aware that the words can be inappropriate in some situations - particularly in the cases of predictive medicine, pregnancy, artificial procreation, voluntary sterilization, blood and organ donation, etc. - for the ease of survey and the reader's convenience we decided to use these words as umbrella expressions .

10. Cf. KNMG/LCPC, Modelregeling arts-patiënt (Het Centrum, Utrecht, 1990).

11. H.D.C. Roscam Abbing, International Organizations in Europe and the Right to Health Care (Kluwer, Deventer, 1979), p. 105; and H.JJ. Leenen, Handboek gerondbeidsrecht -rechten van mensen in de gezondbeidszorg, 2nd ed. (Samsom Uirgeverij, Alphen aan den Rijn, 1988), p. 23.

12. Notably UN General Assembly Resolution 2450(XV111) of 19 December 1968.

13. The so-called Nuremberg rules are considered to be an important sour<e of international customary law.

14. Cf. Leenen (note 11 above), p. 151.

15. Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Tehran, 22 April to 13 May 1968, p.5.

16. Cf. Recommendations of the Dutch Board of Health between 1979 and 1982 ("Adviezen van de Centrale Raad voor de Volksgezondheid").

17. Cf. Declaration of Lisbon "The Rights of the Patient," adopted by the Thirty-fourth World Medical Assembly, September/October 1981.

18. P.T. Smit, Patiëntenparticipatie - patiëntenrecht (Bohn, Scheltema, & Holkema, Utrecht/Antwerp, 1984).

19. Cf. European Court of Human Rights, Belgium Linguistical Case, 23 July 1968 (Series A, no. 6 (1968), pp. 24-25), and the report of I March 1979 in the Van Oostermijck Case (Series B. no. 36 (1983), p. 24). See also Resolution 428 (1970) of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, stating that the right to privacy "consists esentially in the right to live one's own life with a minimum of interference. "

20. Cf. M. Nowak, UNO-Pakt über bürgerliche und politische Rechte und Fahultativprotokoll - CCPR-Kommentar (Kehl/Strasbourg/Arlington, 1989), pp. 302 ff.

21 . See Recommendation (note 16 above), Article 10.

22. According to medical professional codes, a physician has to respect the patient's right to autonomy. Cf. Article 9, "Rules for the Relation with Patients," in Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering van de Geneeskunst (KNMG), Gedragsregels voor artsen, 2nd ed. (Utrecht, 1984).

23. Cf. Council of Europe, Cons. Ass. Twenty-first Ordinary Session (Third Part), Texts Adopted (1970), and Council of Europe, Collected Texts (Strasbourg 1979), p. 911.

24. According to Pieter van Dijk, some principles have such a fundamental character that they are the basis for the overall legal system and as such automatically incorporated in the legal order, regardless of whether they are embodied in rules or not. P. van Dijk, "Het internationale recht inzake de rechten van de mens," in Rechten van de mens in mundiaal en Europees perspectief (Ars Aequi Libri, Nijmegen, 1978), p. 22.

25. Cf. Nowak (note 20 above), pp. 133 ff.

26. Cf. Nowak (note 20 above), pp. 306 ff.; M.J. Bossuyt, Guide to the "Travaux Préparatoires" of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1987), p. 346 ff.

27. Articles 6(1), 17(2), 23, 24, 26, and 27 CCPR. Cf. Nowak (note 20 above), pp. 40 ff.

28. Similarly Article 11(3) ACHR.

29. Cf. Nowak (note 20 above), pp. 304 ff.

30. Cf. van Dijk and van Hoof (note 2 above), pp. 417-418; and Frowein and Peukert, (note 2 above), pp. 198 ff. See also the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of Raes (Series A, no. 106 (1987), pp. 24-26), X and Y v. the Netherlands (Series A, no. 91 (1985), pp. 22-23), and Airey v. Ireland (Series A, no. 32 (1980), pp. 11-16), as well as the report of the European Commission of Human Rights in the case of Van Oosterwijck v. Belgium (Report of I March 1979, Series B. no. 36 (1983), p. 26).

31. E. Jacobs, ed., De bio-maatschappij- een humanistische visie op de ethiek van het biomedisch handelen (Acco, Enschede, 1990), pp. 56 ff.

32. Cf. Leenen (note 11 above), pp. 29 and 174. Compare also Article I of the Declaration of Mentally Retarded Persons (proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2856 (XXVI) of 20 December 1971): "The mentally retarded person has, to the maximum degree of feasibility, the same rights as other human beings. "

33. Human Rights - A Compilation of International Instruments (Centre for Human Rights, United Nations, New York, 1988), p. 391.

34. See note 33 above, pp. 400-401.

35. See also: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, Health Legislation in Europe, WHO ICP/HLE 101 (Copenhagen, 1985), and H.J.J. Leenen, G. Pinet and A.V. Prims, Trends in Health Legislation in Europe (Masson, Paris, 1986).

36. Cf. Leenen (note 11 above), p. 155.

37. This Convention came into force on I October 1985 after France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Norway, Spain, and Sweden ratified the treaty.

38. As of I June 1990, 179 of 185 countries and areas collaborate with the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA), a special unit within the WHO, based in Geneva. See Global AIDS Factfile -Case Review, June 1990. Collaboration may vary from the technical evaluation of the national HIV/AIDS situation to the formulation of national programmes, setting up of adequate health-care facilities, etc.

39. Cf. A. Hendriks, "The Right to Freedom of Movement and the (Un)lawfuluess of AIDS/HIV Specific Travel Restrictions from a European Perspective," in The Nordic Journal of International Law (1990), and R. Frankenberg, The Other Who is Also the Same: Epidemics in Space and Time: Youth and AIDS (Berkeley/Keele, 198/89).

40. Cf. "London Declaration on AIDS Prevention," World Summit of Ministers of Health, London, 28 January 1988. "Health Legislation and Ethics in the Field of AIDS and HIV Infection," report on an international consultation, Oslo, 26-29 April 1988; V. Boltho-Massarelli, "Incidences éthiques du SIDA (dans le cadre sanitaire et social," in D. Borillo and A. Masseran, eds., SIDA et droits de l'homme (GERSULP, Strasbourg, 1990), pp. 19-28; and K. Tomasevski, "Equality and Non-discrimination: Action by the International Community against AlDS-related Discrimination," written communication presented at the seventh International Colloquy on the European Convention on Human Rights (Council of Europe H/Coll (90) 14).

41. Cf. Leenen (note 11 above), pp. 155-156.

42. In early 1990 the Directorate-General V (Employment, Industrial Relations, and Social Affairs) of the Commission commissioned several studies to be carried out to research problems of access to health-care services for particular persons/patients in the EC Member States and discrimination against people on the basis of their health status.

43. Cf. conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 31 May 1988 concerning AIDS (88/C 197/05).

44. H.J.J. Leenen, "Patiëntenrechten in internationaal perspectief," in Tijdschrift voor gezondheidsrecht, no. I (1987): 2-6; and Leenen, Pinet, and Prims (note 35 above), pp. 1-36.

45. For an analysis of the Dutch system, see D. Zeegers, "Het medisch tuchtcollege en openbaarheid" (final thesis) (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Groningen, 1987).

46. See P. Sieghart, The International Law of Human Rights (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1983); van Dijk and van Hoof (note 2 above); Frowein and Peukert (note 2 above); Nowak (note 20 above); T. Buergenthal, R. Norris and D. Shelton, Protecting Human Rights in the Americas: Selected Problems (Engel, Strasbourg, 1982); P. Sieghart, AIDS and Human Rights - A UK Perspective (British Medical Association Foundation for AIDS, London, 1989).

47. The legal literature on artificial procreation in Western Europe and other industrialized countries has developed rapidly in recent years. Our considerations are based, above all, on the following studies which all contain a number of further references: C.G. Weeramantry, The Slumbering Sentinels, Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology (Penguin Books Australia, 1983); Douglas J. Cusine, New Reproductive Techniques: A Legal Perspective (Gower, Aldershot, 1988); Sheila A.M. McLean, ed., Legal Issues in Human Reproduction (Gower, Aldershot, 1989); Theo Öhlinger/ Manfred Nowak, "Grandrechtsfragen künstlicher Fortpflanzung," in Bundesministerium für Familie, Jugend, und Konsümentenschutz, ed., Familienpolitik und kunstliche Fortpftanzung (Vienna, 1986); Richard Frank, Die künstliche Fortpflanzung beim Menschen im geltenden und im künftigen Recht (Schuithess, Zurich, 1989); Meinhard Knoche, ed., Wege zur europaischen Rechtsgemeinschaft (Göres, Koblenz, 1988), pp. 52-167.

48. Cf. Cusine (note 47 above), pp. 11 ff.

49. Cf. Douglas Cusine, "Legal Issues in Human Reproduction", in McLcan (note 47 above), pp. 17, 20 ff.

50. Cf. Cusine (note 47 above), pp. 36 ff.

51. Cf. Cusine (note 49 above), p. 29; see also para. 6.8 of the famous British "Warnock Report": Report of the Committee of Enquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, Cmnd. 9314, 1984.

52. Cf. Cusine (note 47 above), pp. 130 ff.

53. Cf. Cusine (note 47 above), pp. 143 ff.; Cusine (note 49 above), note 2, pp. 30 ff.; Michael Freeman, "Is Surrogacy Exploitative?", in McLean (note 47 above), pp. 164 ff.

54. See CE-Doc. MDH (85)3 (Strasbourg, 1985).

55. Cf. for the following Öhlinger/Nomak (note 47 above), pp. 32 ff.

56. Cf. Weeramantry (note 47 above), p. 201.

57. See e. g. Article 1 7 of the Austrian Basic Law on Fundamental Rights of the Citizens 1867 (RGBI 1867/142).

58. On 25 May 1989, the Danish Parliament passed a law enabling gay and lesbian couples to register their relationship at a civil registration, which gave them almost the same rights and duties as married couples. It is believed that more countries are to follow, notably Sweden, the Netherlands, and France.

59. On the other hand, European states seem to be very reluctant to allow, for example, legally residing immigrants to have more than one spouse from the country of origin coming to the European country concerned on the basis of family reunion.

60. Cf. Weeramantry (note 47 above), pp. 201 ff.

61. Cf. e.g. Wolfgang Graf Vitzthum, "Die Menschenwürde als Verfassungsbegriff"," in Juristeuzeifung (JZ) (1985), p. 201; Heribert Ostendorf, "Juristische Aspekte der extrakorporalen Befruchtung und des Embryotransfers beim Menschen," in Ulrich Jüdes, ed., In-vitro-Fertilisation und Embryotransfer (Retortenhaby) (Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1983), p. 177; Ernst Benda, "Humangenetik und Recht - eine Zwischenbilanz," Nene Juristische Wochenschrift (1985), p. 1730; Günter Jerouschek, "Vom Wert und Unwert der pränatalen Menschenwürde," JZ (1989), p. 279; und Dieter Giesen, "Genetische Abstammung und Recht", JZ (1989), p. 364.

62. Cf. however, Freeman (note 53 above), p. 177, who arrives at the conclusion "that the principal objection to surrogacy - that it exploits or dehumanizes women - does not stand up to critical examination."

63. Cf. Öhlinger/Nowak (note 47 above), pp. 34 ff.; Manfred Nowak, UNO-Pakt über bürgerliche und politische Rechte und Fahultativprotokoll, CCPR-Kommentar (Engel, Kehl am Rhein/Strassburg/Arlington, 1989), pp. 441 ff.

64. Cf. also Thilo Ramm, "Die Fortpflanzung - ein Freibeitsrecht?," Juristenzeitung (1989), pp. 861 ff., who alleges a new positive freedom to artificial procreation in German law.

65. Cf. Nowak (note 63 above), pp. 310 ff.

66. Cf. case 1990/88 "Vordering tot ondergaan van IVF behandeling in K.G. afgewezen" (K.G. 1990/286), in Tijdschrift voor gezondheidsrecht, no. 7 (1990). In this case a childless couple who had been trying to get access to IVF treatment for several years addressed the President of The Hague District Court, Netherlands, after they were finally denied treatment by a medical team after two years of interdisciplinary research. Though there were no specific medical objections, the specialists concerned alleged that the relationship of confidence with the couple was insufficient to carry out such a treatment. The President of the District Court agreed with the defendants that the refusal of the spouse to pass personal information about his temporary detention had indeed undermined the relations