The issues of nanotechnology and ethics were first explored during the Third Session of COMEST [PDF, 583 KB] in Rio de Janeiro, December 2003. Presentations were made during one of the sessions. The paper of the invited speaker, Dr. Bert Gordijn, analyses specifically the ethics issues raised by nanotechnology (“Nanoethics” [PDF, 583 KB]).
In 2005 a group of experts was established in order to assist COMEST to draft a potential policy document in regard to ethics and nanotechnology. The group included Mrs Kyunghee Choi (South Korea), Mr Abdallah Daar (Canada), Mr Donald Evans (New Zealand), Mr Jun Fudano (Japan), Mr Bert Gordijn (the Netherlands), Mrs Michèle Jean (Canada, and former chair of the International Bioethics Committee), Mr Jixing Liu (China), Mr Joachim Schummer (Germany), Mr Peter Singer (Canada), and Mrs Margaret Spangler Andrade (Brazil). The group met in July and December 2005 in Paris. See the Nanotechnology and Ethics Expert Group's Report [PDF, 151 KB] of the first meeting (UNESCO Paris, 5-6 July 2005) and Report [PDF, 59 KB] of the second meeting (UNESCO Paris, 6-7 December 2005).
The group of experts provided input into the activities of COMEST drafting a policy document on ethics of nanotechnology [PDF, 433 KB].
Recommendations of the expert group were transmitted to the COMEST Bureau for consideration in its meeting [PDF, 170 KB] of February 2006. COMEST further considered the policy recommendations [PDF, 142 KB] on nanotechnology and ethics in its Ordinary Session in Paris on 27-28 June 2006. The draft document was the basis for a consultation process which allowed to develop a set of recommendations for the 34th UNESCO General Conference.
In order to provide adequate information on the ethics of nanotechnologies, UNESCO published in June 2006 the brochure The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology [PDF, 1142 KB]. The text explains what nanotechnology is, it sketches its history and current research, and it clarifies what are the potential ethical, legal and political implications.
Another useful publication is “Nanotechnology and the developing world” [PDF, 220 KB], coauthored by the Avicenna Prize laureate Abdallah Daar.Back to top