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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Koïchiro Matsuura opens extraordinary session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST)

On 27 June, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, opened at Paris Headquarters an extraordinary session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST).

This body, composed of 18 representatives of the scientific community, was created in 1998 in order to advise the Organization on its programme in the ethics of scientific knowledge and technology and to promote dialogue between scientific communities, decision-makers and the public at large.

Speaking in the presence of Mrs Pilar Armanet-Armanet, Chairperson of COMEST and Chilean Ambassador to France, Mr Matsuura welcomed six recently appointed members of the Commission and explained that the session would provide an opportunity to discuss UNESCO’s ongoing and future work in the area of science ethics. “We are fortunate to live in an age that offers opportunities for all nations to become involved in the great adventure of scientific and technological progress. New models of science education programmes are being developed. New forms of communication allow scientists in even the least developed countries to cooperate in international research. These efforts are inspiring; but more still needs to be done. In particular, we must make sure that the ethical component is fully integrated into all our initiatives aimed at strengthening national scientific capabilities and fostering global cooperation”, he declared.

Putting emphasis on ethics teaching, capacity-building and awareness-raising as key areas of action, Mr Matsuura called upon COMEST members to provide guidance to UNESCO and the Member States and to become actively involved in planned activities, in particular through the “Ethics around the World” conference programme and the on-line Global Ethics Observatory databases.

The Director-General outlined some of the key challenges listed during the last ordinary session of COMEST, held in Bangkok, Thailand from 23 to 25 March 2005: environmental ethics, good governance, scientific responsibility, codes of conduct and ethics education. He strongly underscored the need to foster public debate on these issues at international, regional and national levels.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Matsuura announced that the fifth ordinary session of COMEST, scheduled for 2007, will take place in Africa. “It is being planned in close cooperation with the African Union and in response to the urgent need to build capacity in the Africa region in the area of the ethics of science and technology”, he emphasized.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash info n°101-2006
  • 28-06-2006
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