THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION
ON THE
HUMAN GENOME AND HUMAN RIGHTS

In line with its Constitution, UNESCO has long been engaged in standard-setting in its fields of competence, with the particular aim of maintaining, increasing and diffusing knowledge with regard to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Since its creation in 1993, the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) has worked for the elaboration of an international instrument for the protection of the human genome. The IBC created a Legal Commission, chaired by His Excellency Mr Héctor Gros Espiell. At its eighth meeting (November 1996), the Legal Commission approved a Revised Preliminary Draft of a Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. 

The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, finalized by a Committee of governmental experts, was adopted unanimously and by acclamation at the twenty-ninth session of UNESCO’s General Conference on 11 November 1997. The following year, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the Declaration. 

At its thirtieth session, on 16 November 1999, UNESCO’s General Conference endorsed the “Guidelines for the Implementation of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights” which had been drawn up by the IBC and approved by the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC). 

The implementation of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights will form the subject of an evaluation in 2002, as requested by UNESCO’s General Conference. This evaluation will be examined at a joint session of the IBC and the IGBC and in 2003, together with all relevant recommendations, will be presented by the Director-General to the Organization’s governing bodies. 

A publication with an article by article commentary of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights will be produced in 2001.

In accordance with its Constitution, UNESCO has developed, within its fields of competence, standard-setting activities over the years, aimed in particular at maintaining, increasing and disseminating knowledge, with due respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Read the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.

Learn more about the background and the development of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.

Read more about how to participate in the Evaluation of the Declaration.