01.06.2011 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

Wide interest for UNESCO’s bioethics discussions in Azerbaijan

© UNESCO/M. Pasty - Pilar Álvarez-Laso, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

The opening ceremony of the International Bioethics Committee’s 18th session which took place on Tuesday 31 May in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, gathered a large number of local observers and media representatives around the IBC experts and 25 international observers.

The President of the National Academy of Sciences, Mahmud Karimov, and the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Pilar Álvarez-Laso, joined their voices to the welcoming words of UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. In her video message Irina Bokova insisted on the importance of holding the session in Baku, outside of UNESCO Headquarters, because this allows for a global interregional discussion on questions that go “to the heart of UNESCO’s role to promote critical thinking on the social, cultural, legal and ethical implications of technological progress while protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The theme of human vulnerability was central during the morning discussion. In its endeavor to finalize its report on the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity, the IBC brought to the forefront the special vulnerability of women, and situations of vulnerability induced by poverty, conflicts and war.

The challenging dialogue between two different perspectives of health took an active turn during the afternoon session which centered on the presentations of three practitioners representing traditional medicine from India, Latin America and Africa. They brought their own perspective to the IBC’s discussion on the ethical implications of traditional medicine.

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