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.

Bioethical dilemmas-including those over genetic screening, compulsory vaccination, and abortion--have been the subject of ongoing debates in the media, among the public, and in professional and academic communities. Debates are both of national and international dimensions, in the light of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, in today’s global village of rapid communication and in collective efforts and multilateral partnerships for towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by ensuring the rights for all to Health.

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 intergovernmental bioethics committee (IGBC), UNESCO 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 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 on this link 

Back to top