Sixteenth Session (Mexico City, 2009)

Further to its postponement for health reasons related to the A(H1N1) influenza epidemic in Mexico City, at the kind invitation of the Government of Mexico, the sixteenth ordinary session of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) was held in Mexico City from 23 to 25 November 2007 and gathered more than 300 participants from around 45 countries, with active participation of numerous experts from various countries in the region.

The opening ceremony was honoured by the presence of the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health of Mexico, whilst the closure was honoured by the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

Three main topics were discussed during this session of IBC: the principle of social responsibility and health as set forth in Article 14 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005), the issue of human cloning and international governance, and the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity as set forth in Article 8 of the UNESCO Declaration.

One of the primary thrust of the session was the finalization of the Report of IBC on Social Responsibility and Health (Rev. SHS/EST/CIB-15/08/CONF.502/3 REV. 3 of 26 November 2009, available soon). IBC took note of the comments made on the report, incorporating relevant suggestions while ensuring that a careful balance is maintained in the final version of the report.

On the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity, considering the constructive suggestions made on how the future report of IBC could be developed, a decision was taken to continue the work on elaborating this principle. The Bureau of IBC will therefore establish a formal working group for this purpose.

IBC also focused on the issue of human cloning and international governance. The Report of IBC on Human Cloning and International Governance, submitted by the Committee to the Director-General of UNESCO on 9 June 2009, and the discussion it raised during the recent sixth session of the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC) in July 2009 showed how this issue is still of high significance to the international community, especially in the light of recent scientific developments in this field. IBC therefore held an extensive brainstorming on the main issues raised during the preparation and finalization of the Report tt its 16th session, thus paving the way for the follow-up work of IBC on this issue in the next biennium.

In addition, an entire day was devoted to “Bioethics in Latin America and the Caribbean: Experiences and perspectives”. This working session focused on the following themes:

  • Bioethical debate and public awareness: Latin American perspective
  • Legislative measures in Latin America and the Caribbean: which implementation for the UNESCO Declarations in the field of bioethics?
  • Bioethics education: experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • National bioethics committees in Latin America and the Caribbean: challenges and perspectives.

Election of the Bureau of IBC

In accordance with Article 11.1 of its Rules of Procedure, IBC proceeded with the election of its Bureau: a Chairperson, four Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur, who will remain in office until the end of the eighteenth regular session (2011), provided that they remain members of the Committee.

The International Bioethics Committee elected by secret ballot and by a simple majority of members present and voting Mr Donald Evans from New Zealand as Chairperson of the Committee. The Committee then elected by secret ballot and by a simple majority of members present and voting the other members of the Bureau. The composition of the new Bureau is as follows:

Chairperson: Mr Donald Evans (New Zealand)


  • Mr Emilio La Rosa (Peru)
  • Mr Toivo Maimets (Estonia)
  • Mrs Sheila McLean (United Kingdom)
  • Mrs Aissatou Touré (Senegal)

Rapporteur: Mr Fawaz Saleh (Syria)


Report of the 16th Session of IBC [PDF, 172 KB]

List of participants [PDF, 212 KB]

Presentations made during the session

The ideas and opinions expressed in these presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of UNESCO or its Members States.

IBC Secretariat:
Ms Sabina Colombo
Section of Bioethics
Division of Ethics of Science and Technology
Tel.: + 33 (0)1 45 68 39 39 / 38 03
Fax: + 33 (0)1 45 68 55 15
E-mail: s.colombo(at)

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