Traditional medicine, human cloning and respect for human vulnerability on the agenda for UNESCO’s Bioethics Committee (26 - 27 October)
UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) will hold its 17th session on 26 and 27 October at Headquarters in Paris. Three subjects will be debated: the principle of respect for human vulnerability; the ethical implications of traditional medicine; and human cloning and governance.
The IBC, founded in 1993, is a body of 36 independent experts that provides a global forum for reflection on the ethical implications of scientific progress.
On 26 October (10 a.m., Room XI), the meeting will be opened by IBC Chairperson Donald Evans and Pilar Alvarez Laso, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences.
In the morning session (10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), the committee will hear from its working group on the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity. The principle is set forth in article 8 of the 2005 Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: “In applying and advancing scientific knowledge, medical practice and associated technologies, human vulnerability should be taken into account.” A draft report on the subject will be considered, covering vulnerability in clinical settings, in research using human subjects and in biotechnology applications.
From 2.30 to 5.30 p.m., the IBC’s working group on traditional medicine and its ethical implications will present its preliminary draft report. The subject was added this year to the IBC’s current work programme because of its importance to developing countries, where about 80% of the population uses traditional medicine for basic health care. The draft report underlines the need for regulations and ethical norms in traditional medicine’s practices and also in related research.
On October 27 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.), the IBC will continue its examination of the issue of human cloning and international governance. Having finalized a report on the subject in 2009, it is now updating the debate according to the latest scientific, social and legal developments, focusing for instance on the different options for legal regulation of human reproductive cloning.
Following the IBC meeting, a joint session of the IBC and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC) will be held on 28 and 29 October, to allow exchange of opinions and ideas between the two. The IGBC is comprised of 36 Member States whose representatives meet to examine the advice and recommendations of the IBC. The two Committees cooperate to produce advice, recommendations and proposals that each submits to the Director-General for consideration by UNESCO's governing bodies and Member States.
Both IBC and IBC/IGBC sessions are open to the public.
Isabelle Le Fournis
Division of Public Information
Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 48 – E-mail: i.le-fournis(at)unesco.org