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The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: Background, Principles and Application
The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: Background, Principles and ApplicationThis book gives descriptions and commentaries on each article of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights in order to contribute to the debate on the subject.
In October 2005, UNESCO Member States adopted by acclamation the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. For the first time in the history of bioethics, some 190 countries committed themselves and the international community to respect and apply fundamental ethical principles related to medicine, the life sciences and associated technologies.

This publication provides a new impetus to the dissemination of the Declaration, and is part of the Organization’s continuous effort to contribute to the understanding of its principles worldwide. Most of the authors were actively involved in the elaboration and drafting process of the Declaration as members of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), government experts, delegates or participants in hearings and meetings.

Their responses shed light on the historical background of the text and its evolution throughout the drafting process. They also provide a reflection on its relevance to previous declarations and bioethical literature, and its potential interpretation and application in challenging and complex bioethical debates.

The editors asked the authors to answer three questions in their contribution:
  1. Why is the article in the Declaration?
    To answer this question, a general overview of the historical context and of the reasons for which the article was included in the text of the Declaration will be necessary. Another important question that needs to be addressed is the evolution of the text through different debates and through the various steps of the drafting process. The explanations on the historical context and the evolution of the article are made much easier by the transparency of the drafting process and by the fact that all the relevant documents are made available to the public on the UNESCO website.
  2. What does the article mean in the context of the Declaration?
    Answering this question means answering other questions such as: how can the text of the article be explained while keeping its history in mind? How can the text of the article be interpreted in the light of the Declaration as a whole, of previous Declarations, of other relevant texts and of the available literature on bioethics? This book does not provide a strict interpretation but tries to clarify the grounds, the reasons and the arguments used during the drafting process, all of which can plausibly show that the formulation of the text was chosen after much thought and significant debates.
  3. How can the article be applied?
    The text of every article of the Declaration is written in a very concise and general manner. It is not always obvious how the article can be used. Thus, explanations are necessary in order to answer questions such as: what is the potential use of this article in the context of bioethical debates on complex questions? How can the article be used in different application contexts? Is it possible to give examples of potential applications?
All the contributions highlight the internal coherence of the articles and the balance, the analysis, the thought process and negotiations that led to the final text of the Declaration.

The contributions do not represent UNESCO’s opinions in any way but simply reflect the authors’ ideas.

Editor(s) Ten Have, Henk; Jean, Michèle S.
Publication Date 01-02-2009
Publisher UNESCO Publishing
Publication Location Paris, France
Number of Pages 370 p.
Buy this book at UNESCO Publishing
Purchase book online Purchase book online
Languages English
ISBN 978-92-3-104088-7
Keywords bioethics, human rights

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