14.04.2016 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Kuwait hosts UNESCO Bioethics Working Groups

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Kuwait will be hosting, for the first time, the Working Groups of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (IBC) and the World Commission on Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology of UNESCO (COMEST) on 24 and 25 April 2016. The meeting of the Working Groups will be organized by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) in cooperation with UNESCO and the Kuwait National Commission for UNESCO, with financial support from the Government of Kuwait.

During the meeting in Kuwait, the IBC Working Group will focus on bioethical questions arising from the condition of refugees, and the COMEST Working Group on the ethics of water and the oceans. Both will be discussing the draft reports of their respective topics. This will be the first time this year that both working groups will have the opportunity to meet to advance on their draft reports, which are to be finalized by the end of 2017. These two topics are of particular importance for Kuwait, the Arab States region, and the entire world.

In conjunction with the meeting of the two working groups, a series of public scientific lectures on bioethics and ethics of science and technology will also be held on 26 April 2016 at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This event is under the patronage of His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait. These lectures will be delivered by experts of the IBC, COMEST and UNESCO, as well as by local experts in Kuwait. The topics will cover UNESCO’s activities in bioethics and ethics of science and technology, issues related to national bioethics committees, the condition of refugees, the ethics of water and the oceans, and the ethical principles for climate change. The lectures are open to the general public.

The IBC and COMEST are UNESCO advisory bodies following progress in the life sciences, and other areas of scientific advancements, in order to ensure respect for human dignity and freedom. The IBC is composed of 36 independent experts, while COMEST comprises 18 independent experts, all appointed by the Director-General of UNESCO for their leading roles in the sciences, law, philosophy, human rights, education, and other disciplines related to bioethics and the ethics of science and technology. Over the past 20 years, the work of both advisory bodies goes directly to the core of UNESCO’s purpose, which is to promote the moral and intellectual solidarity of humanity and to identify and address the ethical dilemmas that scientific advancements and their application might pose to the integrity and rights of human beings and communities, both for present and future generations.

Furthermore, two Kuwaiti experts are serving in leadership roles within the two advisory bodies. At the end of 2015, Professor Manal Bouhaimed (Kuwait University) was elected as Vice-Chairperson of the IBC, and Professor Raslan Alenezi (Public Authority for Applied Education and Training) was elected as Vice-Chairperson of COMEST. Both experts are actively developing bioethics and ethics of science and technology in Kuwait and UNESCO.

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