International Bioethics Committee meets at UNESCOThe 11th session of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) will take place August 23 and 24 at Organization Headquarters (Room II). Hearings of representatives of different religious and spiritual perspectives on the future declaration on universal norms on bioethics, held as part of consultations on the future declaration, will be a major item on the Committee’s agenda.
Participants will also examine the progress of the draft text* of the declaration, whose development was requested by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2003. The Committee – which previously elaborated the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, and the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data – has been entrusted by the Director-General of UNESCO with the task of developing the first stages of the future declaration’s elaboration. A drafting group, headed by Justice Michael Kirby of Australia’s High Court, has already held three meetings to this end, while wide-ranging consultations are being organized to ensure that the range of different perceptions of the ethical and legal issues connected to progress in the life sciences are taken into account.
Founded in 1993, the International Bioethics Committee is a body of 36 independent experts that follows progress in the life sciences and its applications to ensure respect for human dignity and freedom. It allows for in-depth reflection by exposing the issues at stake, but does not pass judgment on particular positions. It is up to each country and its legislative bodies to reflect societal choices within the framework of national law and to decide between various positions.
UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura and the IBC’s Chairperson Michèle S. Jean (Canada) will open the session on August 23 at 3 p.m. During the afternoon (3.30 to 6 p.m.) the Committee will hear representatives of Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, Judaism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. During the day of August 24 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), the Committee will examine the progress report of the declaration. The second draft of the text, produced by the IBC Drafting Group, will also be presented, followed by a discussion.
*The text available at: www.unesco.org/shs/bioethics/igbc/7_july_2004.html
Journalists wishing to cover the IBC meeting must obtain accreditation from the Press Relations Service, tel. +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48, fax +33 (0)1 45 68 56 52