Bioethics: The necessary balance between progress and respect for human dignity


The necessary balance between progress and respect for human dignity

Biological and medical research and developments in technology have produced spectacular advances in the health field. However, these advances raise ethical issues that affect the individual and protection of the individual’s rights and dignity (genetics, medically assisted procreation, antenatal diagnosis, stem cell research etc).

The 1997 Oviedo Convention on human rights and biomedicine established the basic principles of biomedical ethics. There have since been three additional protocols dealing with the prohibition of cloning human beings, organ transplantation and biomedical research.

The European Conference of National Ethics Committees (COMETH) was set up to promote co-operation between national ethics bodies in the Council of Europe member states. It plays a role in promoting public debate on all issues raised by developments in biomedical and health sciences.

The Council of Europe’s aim in the field of bioethics is to strike a balance between freedom of research and protection of individuals.

3rd European Bioethics Forum (28 January - 2 February, Strasbourg)

No more discarding of any part of the human body: diseased organs, urine, blood, corneas, bone marrow, sperm, foetuses… everything can be used, recycled and, more worryingly, offered for sale on the global market in human body parts.

Focusing on the Human body in terms of its parts, 135 experts will engage in debate with the public. Among them will be three representatives of the Council of Europe :

  • Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights, and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, former Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will make major contributions to the debate on “Donation and consent: a matter of personal interpretation”, taking place from 4 to 6 pm on Tuesday 29 January at the salle de l’Aubette;
  • Laurence Lwoff, Secretary to the Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics, will take part in the debate on “The human body, a source of products”, taking place from 12.15 to 2 pm on Wednesday 30 January at the Librairie Kléber bookshop.

Council of Europe explains genetic testing

Under what circumstances is genetic testing foreseen? What does it look for? How should its results be interpreted? All questions are intelligibly answered in a new brochure produced by the Council of Europe, with the support of the European Society of Human Genetics and Eurogentest.

Genetic testing is a source of considerable advances in human health, and will increasingly form part of standard medical practice. Its use is not without implications for the persons concerned. (more...)

Biobanks and Biomedical Collections

A Symposium on Biobanks and Biomedical Collections - An ethical framework for future research, was held on 19-20 June 2012 in Strasbourg, France.

The objective of this Symposium was to provide a basis for the re-examination of the Council of Europe Recommendation (2006)4 on research on biological materials of human origin.

To that end, the Symposium examined the developments in biobanking and research on biological materials of human origin, which have taken place since the adoption of the Recommendation and to consider their possible evolution, in order to assess the challenges they may raise with respect to the ethical and legal principles enshrined in the Recommendation. (more)