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International Bioethics Committee (IBC)
International Bioethics Committee (IBC)The International Bioethics Committee (IBC) is a body of 36 independent experts that follows progress in the life sciences and its applications in order to ensure respect for human dignity and freedom. It was created in 1993.

The IBC provides the only global forum for in-depth bioethical reflection by exposing the issues at stake. It does not pass judgment on one position or another. Instead, it is up to each country, particularly lawmakers, to reflect societal choices within the framework of national legislation and to decide between the different positions.
New composition of the IBC [PDF]
Work Program for 2008-2009
IBC Sessions

Contact: ibc@unesco.org.

What are the IBC's tasks?
How does the IBC work?
How are the IBC members chosen?
Who can participate in or attend IBC sessions?

What are the IBC's tasks?

1. To promote reflection on the ethical and legal issues raised by research in the life sciences and their applications and to encourage the exchange of ideas and information, particularly through education;

2. To encourage action to heighten awareness among the general public, specialized groups and public and private decision-makers involved in bioethics;

3. To co-operate with the international governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned by the issues raised in the field of bioethics as well as with the national and regional bioethics committees and similar bodies;

4. (i) To contribute to the dissemination of the principles set out in the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, and to the further examination of issues raised by their applications and by the evolution of the technologies in question;

(ii) to organize appropriate consultations with stakeholders;

(iii) to make recommendations addressed to the General Conference, to give advice concerning the follow-up of the Declaration, and to identify practices that could be contrary to human dignity.

How does the IBC work?

Since 1998, the IBC has had Statutes defining its mandate, composition, etc.

The Director-General of UNESCO convenes the IBC at least once a year. Through its sessions and working groups, the Committee produces advice and recommendations on specific issues that are adopted by consensus and are widely disseminated and submitted to the Director-General for transmission to the Member States, the Executive Board and the General Conference.

How are the IBC members chosen?

The Director-General appoints the IBC's 36 members to serve in their personal capacities for four-year terms. The selection is made taking into account cultural diversity, balanced geographical representation and nominations from some States of qualified specialists in the life sciences and in the social and human sciences, including law, human rights, philosophy, education and communication.

Who can participate in or attend IBC sessions?

  • Member States, Associate Members of UNESCO may take part as official observers in the meetings of the IBC, while non-Member States that have set up a permanent observer mission may do so at the invitation of the Director-General.
  • The United Nations and the other organizations of the United Nations system that have an agreement with UNESCO for reciprocal representation may take also part as observers in the meetings of the IBC.
  • International governmental or non-governmental organizations with similar objectives to those of the IBC may be invited to take part as observers in the meetings of the IBC.
  • Specialists or other relevant persons or groups may be consulted on matters within the competence of the IBC.
  • Any individual or representative of an institution who wishes to attend a public session of the IBC should contact the Secretariat of the IBC to receive an invitation.

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Bureau of the IBC
IBC Members
Recommendations and Advices
IBC Sessions