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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
26-04-2004 11:20 am UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) will hold an extraordinary session, entitled “Towards a Declaration on Universal Norms on Bioethics” from April 27 to 29 at Organization Headquarters (Room II), marking a significant step in the consultation process to prepare the future declaration.

In October 2003, UNESCO’s General Conference asked for the declaration by inviting Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura to pursue preparatory work begun by the CIB in its 2002-2003 preliminary studies. The Committee – which was previously involved in the preparation of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, and the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data – will be in charge of the first stages of the future declaration’s elaboration. Governmental experts’ meetings are planned further down the line. A working schedule has been proposed to UNESCO’s Executive Board, currently holding its 169th session.

The IBC will hold wide-ranging consultations so as to take into consideration the different perceptions of the ethical and legal issues pertaining to the advances in the life sciences. The session will therefore include hearings with representatives of intergovernmental organizations (including other United Nations agencies), non-governmental organizations and national bioethics committees. Member States have also been asked to provide written contributions.

The session will focus primarily on the scope and structure of the future declaration, considering such questions as whether it should only concern human beings, and, if not, what other issues it should address (the use of animals for experiments or transplants, GMOs, etc).

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the IBC’s Chairperson Michèle S. Jean (Canada) will open the session on Tuesday, April 27 (11 a.m.). Eight intergovernmental organizations will give oral presentations that afternoon (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Starting at 10 a.m. on April 28, 15 national bioethics committees will take their turn. Eight international non-governmental organizations will speak on the morning of the 29th, before the session’s closing.

Journalists wishing to cover the IBC session must be accredited by the Press Relations Section: tel. +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48, fax 33 (0)1 45 68 56 52

Source Media advisory No 2004 - 30


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