International Bioethics Committee: consideration of the inherent risks in biomedical progress

Publié le : 2 August 2013

 During its 20th conference held in Seoul from 19 to 21 June 2013, UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) (1) focused on "recent discrimination-related risks and new responsibilities generated by biomedical progress". The conference was attended by more than a hundred or so delegates from 33 countries. 

Amongst the topics up for lengthy debate, the IBC decided in particular to "revisit potential discrimination and stigmatism fuelled by the incorrect use of genetic information stored in bio banks" or more specifically to "focus on the discrimination and stigmatism experienced by donors and organ transplant recipients". Moreover, the IBC discussed bioethical concerns in Asia which included personalised medicine (for the Asia-Pacific region) promoted by the reduced cost of sequencing with bio banks being the key tools, abortion, organ transplantation and clinical trials in humans (Republic of Korea), together with research into stem cells and its clinical applications, gene discrimination and the weakness of bioethical infrastructures (in the case of China). All of these discussions will be covered in a report to be presented to the UNESCO Head Office in Paris on 5 and 6 September 2013. For its 2014-2015 Conference, the IBC has decided to focus on human genomes "paying particular attention to the Universal Declaration on Human Genomes and Human Rights 1997), the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data (2003) and last, but not least, the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)". The IBC intends to constantly monitor "scientific advances and new related issues" via these think tanks.
(1) The only international think tank focusing on bioethical issues, the IBC, which was created in 1993, comprises 36 independent experts personally appointed by the Director General of UNESCO for a 4-year term of office. These specialists in life sciences and social and human sciences give opinions and recommendations on specific questions relating to the application of scientific advances whilst ensuring compliance with the principles of human dignity and freedom.

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