Fifth Ordinary Session of COMEST, Dakar, Senegal, 6-9 December 2006

Ethics of Science in Africa

On the kind invitation of the Government of Senegal, the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) held its Fifth Ordinary Session in Dakar from 6 to 9 December 2006. The meeting was jointly organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Scientific Research of Senegal.

Before this session, COMEST held four Ordinary Sessions: in Oslo (Norway) in April 1999, in Berlin (Germany) in December 2001, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in December 2003 and in Bangkok (Thailand) in March 2005.

The regional meeting in Dakar gave UNESCO an excellent opportunity to discuss the ethical issues concerning science and technology in the Africa region, to disseminate the ethical debate, to establish a network of experts and to set up a platform for future activities in the whole region.

Key areas that were discussed are:

  • ethics education and consultation on the draft core curriculum for bioethics teaching;
  • environmental ethics, consultation on the draft policy advice on environmental ethics and the problem of toxic waste in Africa;
  • regional consultation on science ethics and scientists' responsibility and setting up monitoring and application bodies;
  • and the ethical dimensions of the relation among biodiversity, genetically modified organisms and biotechnology.

A Youth Forum on the ethical and social responsibilities of scientists in Africa was also organized to enhance the involvement of young researchers or representatives of youth organizations in the work of COMEST.

Finally, a Regional Ministerial Meeting on the incorporation of ethics of science and technology in African public policies took place in order to assure visibility and political support to the debate of this matter in the West Africa region.



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