Two main topics will be discussed during these meetings: the principle of social responsibility as set forth in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005), and the issue of human cloning and international governance. The IBC has pioneered debate on cloning, laying the foundations of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997), which condemns reproductive cloning of human beings as contrary to human dignity. More than 50 countries have since passed laws banning this practice. But some, mainly scientists, are urging a different approach to therapeutic cloning. At the request of UNESCO’s Director-General, an IBC working group has been examining this issue to determine whether the latest scientific, ethical, social, political and legal advances warrant a new international initiative. The session will provide the opportunity to assess the situation and hear different viewpoints.
The 15th session of the IBC* will be opened on 28 October (10 a.m.) by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Chairperson of the IBC, Adolfo Martínez-Palomo. The opening ceremony will be followed at 10.30 by preliminary reflection on the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity, with a keynote address by Professor of Ethics Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (Portugal). The afternoon session, chaired by Fawaz Saleh, Professor of Law, (Syria), Vice-Chairperson of IBC, will focus on the draft report on social responsibility and health.
The 29 October meeting will be devoted to human cloning and international governance. In the morning and early afternoon, public hearings will present the opinions of the National Commission of Ethics in Research (CONEP, Brazil), Madagascar’s Committee for Ethics of Science and Technology (CMEST), the National Committee of Health Research Ethics (KNEPK, Indonesia), and the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCS). Professor Toivo Maimets (Estonia) will then present the progress report of the IBC working group on the subject.
The IBC-IGBC joint session will be opened (30 October, 10 a.m.) by George N. Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference; the Chairperson of the IBC; the Chairperson of the IGBC, Jude Mathooko; and Pierre Sané, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences. During the morning, participants will focus on Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Bioethics and Human Rights, with a lecture by Sheila McLean, Professor of Law and Ethics of Medicine (United Kingdom), and a progress report on UNESCO bioethics programme, notably the promotion and dissemination of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The afternoon will be devoted to issues surrounding human cloning and international governance. Social responsibility and health will be discussed at the 31 October morning session.
* The International Bioethics Committee (IBC), created in 1993, is a body of 36 independent experts; the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC), established in 1998, is composed of representatives of 36 UNESCO Member States. These committees work together to produce opinions, recommendations and proposals on the ethical challenges linked to scientific and technological advances, which are submitted to the Director-General for consideration by UNESCO’s representative bodies and transmission to Member States.
More information on bioethics
International Bioethics Committee
Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee
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