GEObs Database 4: Ethics Related Legislation and Guidelines

Information for this database of the Global Ethics Observatory (GEObs) is collected and analyzed by legal experts identified from various Member States, and subsequently reviewed and validated by the Review Committee consisting of legal experts from various regions and legal traditions.

The Review Committee met on December 2005 and on September 2006 in order to develop a common methodology of obtaining and presenting data.

As of August 2009, three groups of legal experts have collected and analysed legislation and guidelines for the database.

Experts are provided with a standardised methodological schedule designed to ensure comparability in their collection and analyses of legislation and guidelines stemming from different legal systems around the world. Instruments collected are organized according to the following legal categories:

  • Treaties (limited to the international instruments listed in the Preamble of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights)
  • Constitution
  • Domestic Laws
  • Guidelines
  • Authoritative Case Laws

Experts are required to collect and analyze the types of legal instruments mentioned above for provisions that are relevant to specific bioethical themes and articles of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights and the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data. Once validated, these provisions are then entered into the database with cross-referencing to the relevant bioethical themes and articles from the two declarations. The provisions will eventually be translated into the six official languages of UNESCO to facilitate worldwide accessibility.

Thus far, the following bioethical themes have been identified:

  • Medical research with human beings
  • Access to health care and essential medicines
  • Genetic counselling
  • Protection of future generations
  • Freedom of scientific research
  • Human cloning (reproductive and therapeutic cloning)
  • Organ transplantation
  • Biobanking
  • Non-discrimination in health care
  • Protection of genetic resources
  • Ethics committees

Several meetings have been convened between the Review Committee and the groups of legal experts to review and analyse the data collected. During these meetings and throughout the validation process, feedback is provided by the Review Committee and the Secretariat to the legal experts so that the information collected can be revised and amended as necessary, and formatted for entry into the database.

Reports of these meetings are listed below (the list will be updated as reports become available):

As of August 2009, data from Australia, Brazil, Cook Islands, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are available online. Data from Finland, Greece, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda have been collected and are in the process of being reviewed and validated. It is anticipated that these will be made available by the end of 2009.

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