Science Ethics

The 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005 decided to request the Director-General “to pursue reflection on the question of science ethics” in cooperation with the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) and to submit a report to UNESCO’s Executive Board at its 175th Session (September – October 2006).

See also: Resolution 33C/Res 39 [PDF] – English, Français, Español, Русский, العربية, 中文.

Following the debate and resolutions of the 33rd General Conference, UNESCO has pursued reflection on ethical questions raised by scientific and technological progress through three ongoing activities.

  1. Surveys of the wider field of science ethics and particularly interesting topics that are relevant from an international perspective. Consultation meetings have been organised with scientists, philosophers, policy-makers, relevant national, regional and international organizations and stakeholders. Meetings have been held in Tokyo [PDF, 53 KB] (April 2006), New Delhi [PDF, 185 KB] (April 2006), Geneva [PDF, 226 KB] (May 2006), Bangkok [PDF, 76 KB] (May 2006), Belo Horizonte [PDF, 234 KB] (May 2006), and Seoul [PDF, 176 KB] (May 2006). 
  2. An analysis of existing codes of conduct in various scientific and professional areas and in different regions and member states. Examples of codes of conduct have been collected (from different professions, countries and organizations). These existing codes have been entered into a specialised database in the Global Ethics Observatory. A preliminary analysis [PDF, 164 KB] of the various characteristics of the codes has been made. 
  3. A review of previous work of UNESCO in this area, specifically regarding the Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers, adopted at the 18th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in November 1974.

In its Extraordinary Meeting of 27 and 28 June 2006, COMEST examined the activities undertaken and made recommendations [PDF, 433 KB] to UNESCO's Director-General.

The report of the Director-General informing the Member States on the activities in the field of science ethics was discussed in the 175th session of the Executive Board (See: 175 EX/14 [PDF] – English, Français, Español, Русский, العربية, 中文).

Codes of Conduct for Scientists

See also

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