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COMEST Evaluation
Pursuant to 165 EX/Decision 3.4.3 of the Executive Board, the work of COMEST (1998-2003) was the subject of an in-depth study, entrusted to Professor Daniel Weinstock, professor of philosophy, director of the Centre for Research in Ethics of the University of Montreal (Canada).

A consultation of Member States and international organizations on the recommendations was also undertaken by the Secretariat. Member States showed significant interest in supporting UNESCOís work in ethics of science and technology and, to this end, called for greater streamlining of COMESTís strategy and working methods.

The evaluation also reveals a need to streamline COMEST by emphasizing, in consistency with the criteria proposed, its influence and impact, multidisciplinary and intersectoral approaches, as well as its role in advising UNESCO to provide information, training and universal norms in ethics of science and technology.

The Weinstock Report is available in the French language. A synopsis and a translation of the last concluding part of the report is also available in English.

On the basis of the evaluation, a new orientation has been formulated to increase the visibility of COMEST and to enhance its advisory role to the membership. A set of clear parameters and mechanisms have been established to measure the expected results of COMEST advisory activities at the end of the biennium, as well as performance indicators in each of the areas of activities, allowing evaluation of the impact of COMEST. These criteria include:
  1. Standard-setting action
    1. Ethics of Outer Space
      • Set up an expert group on the ethics of outer space with a view to increase support for debates on ethical dimensions of space science and technology
      • Preliminary studies on the feasibility of an international instrument on the ethics of space activities shall also be completed.
    2. Ethics of Environment
      • An expert group on ethics of the environment shall be established and COMEST shall elaborate recommendations in this area
      • UNESCO shall produce and circulate documents on its strategy in this area and a state-of-the-art report, indicating possibilities for future international actions.
    3. Preliminary evaluation and studies towards the elaboration of an Ethical Code of Conduct for scientists
      • UNESCO shall gather and examine materials relating to codes of conduct for scientists, aided by an expert group that shall be established, in cooperation with ICSU
      • A working document shall be prepared, on the basis of which meetings and consultations shall be held. The preliminary evaluation and studies on the feasibility of an international code of ethical conduct for scientists shall be completed by the close of the biennium.

  2. Capacity-building action
    1. Ethics Education Programme
      A regional pilot programme of ethics education shall be developed based on the mutual interests of UNESCO and the region concerned.
    2. Global Ethics Observatory
      By the end of the biennium the Global Ethics Observatory shall be fully operational.

  3. Awareness-raising action
    1. Programme of Rotating Conferences. UNESCO's plan of action to promote "Ethics around the World" at both the regional and international level shall be established and implemented by holding informational conferences in interested countries and by working with the Member State to develop key programmes of interest.
    2. Development and implementation of an ethics of science and technology communication strategy.
      1. development of a multilingual Web site
      2. publication of materials such as the COMEST brochure and the initiation of a series of books on ethics and science.
    3. Development of an ethics of science and technology research program. The development of an ethics of science and technology research program shall begin with the setting up of expert groups with plans of action for the various topics of research (environmental ethics, science ethics, ethics and nanotechnology). The groups' work shall culminate in research papers that shall be made available and widely disseminated. By the end of the biennium, the research papers produced shall be compiled into a first volume of a UNESCO series on the Ethics of Science and Technology and made available in all six working languages.

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Bureau of COMEST
COMEST Members
Rules of Procedure [PDF]
COMEST Sessions
Evaluation of the impact of COMEST (169 EX/15)
Evaluation of the impact of COMEST (169 EX Decision 3.6.1)
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