Setting Global Ethical Standards

Over the years, UNESCO has led the global efforts in standard-setting in the field of bioethics, facilitating the development and adoption by all Member States of the following instruments:

Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change (2017)

The Declaration asserts that at its core, climate change is an ethical issue and unless ethical principles become the basis of climate action, both climate change and responses to it could create unacceptable damage and social injustice. For the first time, the use of scientific evidence in climate-related decision-making is considered an ethical imperative. The 195 Member States of UNESCO adopted the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change in November 2017 as a global instrument to help governments, businesses, and civil society mobilize people around shared values on climate change.

Please click here for a detailed background and the full text of the Declaration.

Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)

The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is a global instrument representing agreement of all countries on a set of universal principles and practices. It upholds a global perspective on bioethics, encompassing the fundamental principles traditionally associated with the discipline, such as human dignity, consent, benefit and harm, autonomy and personal integrity, as well as the principles related to social and economic rights, such as equality, justice and equity, social responsibility and health, protecting future generation, and the protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity. UNESCO assists countries to realize the universal principles contained in the Declaration.

Please click here for a detailed background and the full text of the Declaration.

UNESCO has also contributed to the formulation of other basic principles in bioethics, in particular the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (adopted unanimously and by acclamation by the General Conference in 1997 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998), and the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data (adopted unanimously and by acclamation by the General Conference on 16 October 2003).

For more information on this topic, please visit the SHS website or contact the SHS Unit at UNESCO Office, Jakarta (Mr. Irakli Khodeli: i.khodeli(at)unesco.org).

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