Expert Meeting on Nanotechnologies and Ethics in the Arab Region
18 - 19 May 2009
Nanotechnologies currently are one of the most rapidly developing technologies with many promising applications in medicine, energy, manufacturing and communication. Like any new technology, they raise ethical issues; and the possible benefits and harms are increasingly discussed, especially the risk to the environment, there are also concerns of “nano-divide”, especially at the international level.
Within the framework of sensitizing the public with emerging ethical issues in the field of science and technology and to assist Member States to build their capacity to address such issues, UNESCO has produced two publications on nanotechnology namely “The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology” and “Nanotechnologies: Ethics and Politics”.
Also, the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) which was established in 1998 as an advisory body to UNESCO composed of 18 independent experts, had been addressing the ethical issues of nanotechnologies since 2003 and produced the document “Nanotechnologies and Ethics: Policies and Actions” in 2007 which provides Member States the overview of the current situation of nanotechnologies, ethical issues related to research and application of nanotechnologies as well as a possible framework to address such issues in to national policies.
In the Arab Region, research on nanotechnologies has been conducted only in a limited number of countries and ethical issues of nanotechnologies are still new in this region.
However, the impact of research on nanotechnologies and their applications cannot be overlooked in the whole world in the time of globalization.
In this context, UNESCO Cairo Office will organize an expert meeting on Nanotechnologies and Ethics in the Arab Region on 18 and 19 May in Doha, Qatar.
Objectives of the meeting
A major objective of this meeting is to start a process leading to draft a skeleton for a “Declaration on Ethics of Nanotechnologies in Arab States” o be finalized by the UNESCO in full consultation with other relevant regional agencies and the global ethics of science community
Other objectives of the meetings are:
• To initiate a regional dialogue on the scientific, ethical and religious aspects of nanotechnologies;
• To discuss appropriate approaches to build capacity to address ethical issues of nanotechnologies in the region;
• To discuss the mechanism to assess and manage the risks and benefits of nanotechnologies;
• To discuss role education and sensitizing the public to the issues of nanotechnologies;
• To explore the possibility to establish regional and international cooperation to address issues of research on nanotechnologies.
Participants of the meeting
• International Experts on nanotechnologies and ethics
• Experts on law, ethics, religion and researchers of nanotechnologies from the region
Expected outcome of the meeting
• Based on the COMEST policy recommendations, particular needs to address ethical issues of nanotechnologies in the Arab region will be identified.
• Network of experts and cooperation at the international level will be established.
• A report of the meeting will be published and widely disseminated in the region.
Dates and the venue of the meeting
The meeting will be held at Millennium hotel in Doha, Qatar during 18 and 19 May 2009.
Structure of the meeting
• 25 regional and international experts will be invited for the meeting
• Working language will be English
• During the meeting, following themes will be addressed;
o Rapidity of Nanotechnologies development
o Global impact of Nanotechnologies
o Risk assessment of Nanotechnologies
o Social impact of Nanotechnologies
o Risk of “Nano-divide”
o Application of Nanotechnologies and the Mechanism of Oversight Provisional
Agenda of the Meeting
The following items will be scheduled during the two-day meeting;
• Opening of the meeting
• Keynote lecture: Current situation of research on nanotechnologies
• Keynote Lecture: Initiative of European Commission
• Session 1: Rapid Development and Global Impact of Nanotechnology
• Session 2: Risk Management of Nanotechnologies
• Round Table Discussion: Nanotechnology Ethics in the Arab World.
• Panel discussion focusing on COMEST policy recommendations, the need for
awareness-raising, ethics education, development polices for academia and the
• Keynote Lecture: Social and Ethical issues of nanotechnologies
• Keynote Lecture on COMEST Policy Recommendations
• Session 3: Social and Cultural Implications of Nanotechnologies
• Session 4: Nanotechnology and Ethics in the Arab World
• Session 5: Using and Misusing Nanotechnologies Application of Nanotechnologies in the Arab World.
• Round table Discussion: Governance and Ethics of Nanotechnology in the Arab World
• focusing on the skeleton of Declaration on Ethics of Nanotechnologies in the Arab World,
• Closure of the meeting
The meeting will be co-organized by UNESCO Cairo Office and, UNESCO Doha