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20 Years of UNESCO’s commitment for Bioethics: what role for the next 20?

A roundtable organized in Paris, on 6 September 2013, will bring together internationally renowned bioethics specialists to discuss, in public, for more than two hours, UNESCO’s achievements in the realm of Bioethics over the last twenty years, and the role that the Organization should play in this field within the framework of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s bioethics programme and the creation of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), this event will be held immediately after the closing of the 8th session of the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC).

This roundtable will allow participants to discuss the successes of UNESCO’s activities in the field of bioethics. It aims to bring into focus the most important challenges in bioethics – both those arising from the spectacular progress of science and those more persistent challenges relating to respecting individual rights (rights to information, privacy, bodily integrity, equitable access to health care), within a framework of solidarity.

The discussion, which will last a little more than two hours, should suggest ways to help ensure that UNESCO Bioethics activities are both relevant and lead to lasting impact for the benefit of people in the coming years.

In addition to the current Chairpersons of the IBC and IGBC (Professors Stefano SEMPLICI and Yongyuth YUTHAVONG), and those in charge of the UNESCO’s Programme for Bioethics, numerous renowned specialists will be at UNESCO on this occasion to share their experiences and perspectives.

Among them are:

• John HARRIS, British philosopher and bioethicist Director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester (United-Kingdom), engaged on the challenging topic of enhancement;

• Michael KIRBY, Former Judge at the High Court of Australia, and legal thinker specialized in the field of Bioethics (to be confirmed);

• Sir Michael G. MARMOT, Director of the International Centre for Health and Society (United-Kingdom); a leading voice on the social determinants of health;

• Michèle STANTON-JEAN, Québec Government Representative within the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO; Canadian Deputy Minister of Health (1993-1998) and Chair of the IBC (2002 à 2005) ;

• Henk TEN HAVE, Director of the Center for Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University of Pittsburgh (U.S.A.) and Founding member of the International Association for Ethics in Education (IAEE); Former Director of UNESCO’s Division of Ethics of Science and Technology (2003-2010).

This roundtable, open to the public, will include simultaneous translation into the six working languages of UNESCO, and will be webcast live.