The need to reflect on the moral dimension of advances in science and technology, as well as the desire to enhance the public’s health has, in many areas of the world, led to the establishment of various forms of Bioethics Committees. For example the French Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique pour les sciences de la vie et de la santé (CCNE), the National Bioethics Committee in Indonesia and the United States President’s Council on Bioethics serve as platforms for providing guidance and advice to policy makers and governments in their States at the national level. Establishing bioethics committees may thus be a first step for States to create platforms and bodies for ethical debate, analysis and policy development.
Support to the establishment of ethics and bioethics committees at all levels (national, regional, local) as well as assistance to existing committees are essential elements of the capacity-building action of UNESCO in the field of bioethics. For the time being, the focus of activities will be national bioethics committees. Such committees can be effective platforms from which to implement UNESCO’s Declarations in bioethics:
- Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997)
- International Declaration on Human Genetic Data (2003)
- Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)