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unesco's international bioethics committee

Lilianne Picard and Gabrielle Voignac of the ICJW UNESCO team in Paris attended the 21st Session of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (IBC) and the joint session of the IBC and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC) which took place on September 9-10, 2014.
The IBC is a permanent Committee established within UNESCO with the following terms of reference:
·         Promote reflection on the ethical and legal issues raised by research in the life sciences and their applications as well as encourage the exchange of ideas and information, particularly through education.

·         Encourage action to heighten awareness among the general public, specialized groups and public and private decision makers involved in bioethics.
·         Cooperate with the international governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned by the issues raised in the field of bioethics as well as with the national and regional bioethics committees and similar bodies.
The representatives of the member States of UNESCO elect the IGBC, which participate in the IBC with voting rights.

The session was co-chaired by the President of the IBC and the Vice President of the CIGB.
Starting with a video message of Mrs Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, the program was very dense and included the following topics:

  • Progress Report on the UNESCO Bioethics program 
  • Revision of the Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers 
  • The Principle of the Sharing of Benefits (article 15 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. At this occasion, the French Delegation submitted a draft statement aiming at expressing the support of the community of Members of UNESCO to the States affected by the Ebola virus epidemic as well as to their populations and health personnel. 
  • Updating the IBC reflection on the Human Genome and Human Rights 
  • Global Reflection: addressing the Ethical Aspects of the Converging Technology 
The audience was very large composed mostly of high-level scientists.  The different presentations and debates put in light the numerous questions arising from the development of new technologies and the necessity of establishing strict rules to protect the fundamental human rights of privacy, and human dignity.