Challenges of Global Bioethics for Developing Countries

- M. K. Tadjudin,
Chairman, National Accreditation Board for Higher Education,
Jalan Kesehatan III/31, Jakarta 10160, INDONESIA
Email: tajudin@dnet.net.id
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 159.


Globalization is a fact of life. It has a great impact on political and economic structures, lifestyles, even to communities, families, and personal identity. The frontiers between State, Market, and Culture have been breached and may cause instability. For me the keyword in globalization is sharing, preferably through networks. If only the aspects related to competitiveness is put forward, then the developing countries will suffer. According to he Brundtland Commission Report "Our Common Future", development is sustainable only, if we ensure that present development is not the result of a mortgage of the future.

Ethics is concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. Although most concepts of what is morally good and bad, right and wrong are universal or global, there some concepts which are different in different societies. Most of the developing countries are nation-states and in the era of globalization these nation-states, which are mostly welfare-states and poor, is being attacked by globalization in the form of multi-national corporations or non-governmental organizations. They are being pressured to privatize, transform itself into a free-market system, and adopt global standards of ethics.

Bioethics is especially concerned with biological research and the applications of that research. Most of the basic research in biology, even those using materials from the developing countries is done in the developed world and because of its commercial value the intellectual property rights are strongly protected. Some traditional technology have also been researched and the results patented. This may cause people in the developing world to be unable to use their traditional technology legally because that technology is now protected by patents. The big question on bioethics applied to developing countries is whether we should adopt an "ethic of outcomes" principle which assumes that we have a moral duty to produce good outcomes for people irrespective of who has been responsible, or an "ethic of responsibility" which assumes responsibility only for past wrong doings caused by ourselves. If we believe that it is our duty to relieve poverty in the developing countries, irrespective of past wrong doings, then the general approach should be an ethic of outcomes.

(Paper presented at the Sixth International Tsukuba Bioethics Roundtable: Bioethics, Health and the Environment (TRT6), 27-29 October, 2000)


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