06.06.2011 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

The International Bioethics Committee finalizes its report on human vulnerability

© UNESCO/M. Pasty - From left to right: Donald Evans, former IBC Chairperson, and Stefano Semplici, elected IBC Chairperson.

The 18th session of the International Bioethics Committee, held in Baku (Azerbaijan), from 31 May to 2 June 2011, allowed the committee to finalize its report on human vulnerability and personal integrity.

The report provides an account of the principle of respect for personal integrity and the need to protect those who are especially vulnerable. As one of the most important example of special vulnerabilities, IBC more specifically deals with the position of women, in particular that of female children, adult women, migrant women and women affected by war who are especially vulnerable to the risk of being unwanted, uncared for, abused and rejected.

The Committee emphasizes in its report the fact that situations of vulnerability seldom exist in isolation and that there are often social, cultural and political barriers that negatively impact on respect for personal integrity. They create complex, seemingly intractable situations of special vulnerability for both individuals and groups. IBC’s work on this issue aims at enjoining states, but also individuals, groups, communities, institutions and public or private corporations, to secure the protection of groups and individuals with special vulnerability. This is the foremost test of the capacity and willingness to foster the idea of equal rights and dignity of every human being. The report will be made available in the coming weeks.

The session also concluded with the election of the committee’s new Bureau. Stefano Semplici, Professor of Social Ethics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata (Italy), was elected as new Chairperson for a two-year mandate. His election is a strong demonstration of the Committee’s profound commitment to the universal values of bioethics and a new assertion of its embedded multiculturality and pluridisciplinarity.

Other elected members of the Bureau are: Alireza Bagheri, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics at the School of Medicine from Teheran University (Islamic Republic of Iran); Olga Kubar, Head of the Clinical Department at Saint-Petersburg Pasteur Institute (Russian Federation); Emilio La Rosa, Doctor in Anthropology and Human Ecology and Member of the Peruvian Society of Bioethics (Peru, re-elected); and Monique Wasunna, Consultant Physician and Specialist in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease (Kenya).

The next session of IBC will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in autumn 2012.

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