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World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST)


The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology COMEST* is an advisory body and forum of reflection that was set up by UNESCO in 1998.

The Commission is composed of eighteen leading scholars from scientific, legal, philosophical, cultural and political disciplines from various regions of the world, appointed by the UNESCO Director-General in their individual capacity, along with eleven ex officio members representing UNESCO's international science programmes and global science communities.

The Commission is mandated to formulate ethical principles that could provide decision-makers with criteria that extend beyond purely economic considerations.

COMEST works in several areas: environmental ethics, with reference inter alia to climate change, biodiversity, water and disaster prevention; the ethics of nanotechnologies along with related new and emerging issues in converging technologies; ethical issues relating to the technologies of the information society; science ethics; and gender issues in ethics of science and technology.

Since its inception in 1998, the functioning of COMEST has been guided by its Statutes adopted by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 154th session.

* Acronym taken from the French name 'Commission mondiale d’éthique des connaissances scientifiques et des technologies'.

Report of COMEST

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