Human rights - unesco bioethics & human rights 2005


In October 2005, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted by acclamation the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The Declaration addresses ethical issues related to medicine, life sciences and associated technologies as applied to human beings, taking into account their social, legal and environmental dimensions, and states fundamental principles that are relevant from a global perspective. It is the first time in the history of bioethics that Member States committed themselves and the international community to respect and apply such fundamental principles. Since its adoption, the Declaration has very quickly become a reference text. A growing number of scholarly and popular publications are discussing and examining the Declaration. Several books have been published in various languages analysing the provisions of the Declaration. The text of the Declaration has been translated into approximately 30 national languages. The Declaration is also increasingly used as a resource and as teaching material in educational programmes for young scientists and health care professionals. UNESCO is currently developing a proposal for a bioethics course based on the principles set out in the Declaration. The Declaration has furthermore inspired Member States to establish national bioethics committees and to take legislative measures to give effect to the principles included in the Declaration. The present book provides a new impetus to the promotion and dissemination of the Declaration and is part of the continuous effort of the Organization to provide information on the Declaration worldwide and to contribute to the understanding of its principles. Presenting an article by article commentary, each chapter highlights the discussion of the relevant article during the process of drafting and elaborating the Declaration so that the historical background of the adopted text is clarified. It also provides suggestions for the use and application of the relevant article in considerations and debates concerning salient bioethical issues and questions. In doing so, 10 The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights • • • • fifth proofs • • • • each chapter promotes opportunities for informed pluralistic public debate, as requested in the Declaration itself. The chapters have been written by authors who, with a few exceptions, have themselves been involved in the drafting and elaboration of the text of the Declaration, as members of the International Bioethics Committees, the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee or as governmental representatives in expert meetings, the Executive Board and the General Conference. It is obvious that what they present is not the official view of UNESCO as regards the interpretation of the Declaration. But the authors’ involvement in the development of the Declaration in its various stages assures well-informed and high-level contributions to the promotion of the Declaration.