Since the 1970s, the field of bioethics has grown considerably. While it is true that bioethics today includes medical ethics issues, its originality lies in the fact that it goes much further than the various professional codes of ethics concerned. It entails reflection on societal changes and even on global balances brought about by scientific and technological developments. To the already difficult question posed by life sciences – How far can we go? – other queries must be added concerning the relationship between ethics, science and freedom.

Although bioethics is well recognized as an effective tool to address ethical conflicts in medical treatments and research, capacity building to address such issues is in further needs in many of the Arab Member States whereby bioethics are often not a priority policy issue. At present, there are 7 bioethics committees (Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, KSA, Sudan and Oman) in 18 Arab States.

By the decision of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), UNESCO Beirut implements a set of activities to enhance capacity development in policy dialogue and teaching in the Arab region.

In 2014/ 2015, 4 Arab experts were trained as master trainers and a group of 93 teachers in public health, nursing, medical and engineering schools from 9 Arab countries were trained in a more effective ethics teaching by using UNESCO’s Bioethics Core Curriculum (BCC). In 2016/2017, in addition to the replication of such Ethics Teacher Training Course (ETTCs), trainings will be given to national bioethics committees to better establish and function.

UNESCO Beirut and WHO released their meeting report on "Eastern Mediterranean/Arab States: Regional Summit of National Ethics & Bioethics Committees (Muscat, 5-6 April 2017). The report is accessible here.

Back to top