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The International Bioethics Committee (ICB) received by the President of the French Republic

13-05-2003 - The thirty-six member International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO and the Director-General of the Organization, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, were received on Tuesday, 13 May 2003, by the President of the French Republic, Mr Jacques Chirac.

The meeting was held at the Elysée Palace, in the presence of Ms Noëlle Lenoir, Minister and former president of the IBC and Mr Jean Guéguinou, Ambassador of France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.

After the President of the French Republic reiterated his personal commitment in favour of elaborating an international instrument on bioethics which would constitute a “common ethical platform” guaranteeing respect for human dignity and human rights in the face of scientific and technological advances, the Director-General reviewed the work of the IBC, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary (see Media Advisory n° 2003-40). Mr Matsuura also referred to the creation the Inter-Agency Committee on Bioethics responsible for coordinating the actions of the different institutions of the United Nations system and other regional and intergovernmental organizations in the field of bioethics.

Remarking that this was the first time the Committee was meeting in the presence of a Head of State, the President of the IBC, Ms Michèle Jean (Canada), explained the mandate and the working methods of the Committee, highlighting the considerable added value of the diversity of the committee members, originating from 36 countries with different languages, cultures, and religions and representing varying scientific specialities.

Four members of the IBC then spoke. Mr Hector Gros Espiell (Uruguay) presented the work of the IBC relating to the elaboration of an international declaration on Human Genetic Data; Mr Marwan Hamadé (Lebanon) spoke of the feasibility of elaborating a universal instrument on bioethics; Mr Ryuici Ida (Japan) spoke of human cloning and Article 11 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights; and finally Ms Nhouza Guessous Idrissi (Morocco) outlined the concerns of developing countries in the field of bioethics and explained the possible role of the IBC. The question of human cloning for therapeutic purposes was also discussed during a general debate in which all speakers condemned attempts at human reproductive cloning.

Ms Noelle Lenoir was invited to summarise the debate and highlighted the important role of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee “as a place, par excellence, of dialogue between religions and cultures, a place of debate between research and society, techniques and values”.


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