Postscript to the January 2003 Editorial: Geographical diversity, culture and bioethics

- Darryl Macer
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 13 (2003), in press.

Following the publication of the printed copy of EJAIB (January 2003), there were concerns expressed by some IAB Board members that my editorial was offensive. I would like to apologize if from reading this editorial persons were offended.

In reading item 4 of "The IAB Executive Response to the letter to the IAB Board from the ABA Board": "4. No single country is allocated a mandatory representative and it is not clear why only two countries (as suggested by you) should be accorded this privilege. Population alone is not a sufficient reason, just as the number of working bioethicists in any country is not. Indeed other considerations such as whether a country has a democratically elected government, upholds Universal Human Rights, has a caste system or otherwise, is wealthy or poor are also not given any priority." some persons including myself felt that two countries, India and China, were publicly sneered as lacking a democratically-elected government or having a caste system. I have received a reassurance from Solly Benatar that this was not the intention of this paragraph, and I accept it in good faith.

He wrote " was certainly not the intention of anyone who contributed to the reply to the ABA to publically criticise India and China. I add my personal confirmation of this. I would have hoped that anyone who knew me, Ruth Macklin and the Executive would have known that we would not set out to publically or privately offend respected and admired colleagues.

The purpose of section 4 of our response was to indicate that NO single country currently has privileged access to a guaranteed seat on the IAB Board, and that neither the number of people, the number of trained bioethicists, nor ANY other good or bad features of a country including its level of democracy, its wealth or it poverty etc should provide an advantage or disadvantage regarding access to such a guaranteed seat on the Board. All such considerations were, in the view of the IAB Board, irrelevant characteristics in relation to Board membership."

I would also urge readers of EJAIB to accept this in good faith. Therefore my editorial words describing democracy when comparing IAB and ABA election procedures for executives were too strong.

I would also like to say that my quotation "uncultured persons of Asia" was not a quotation from any IAB Board member but referred to the general mood of war that is expected soon, and to media attacks on some Asian countries.

I am sorry if my editorial placed ill light on the IAB Board. The IAB is electing 12 members in April, and several, including myself will be up for re-election. I do hope that all persons will vote according to their values, as I said. As the dialogue has shown, while there is a strong common concern to develop free bioethics debate around the world, there are differences in the way between persons in how this should be accomplished. There will be further times when these differences will be expressed, and EJAIB editors who have met during February all value the publication of individual opinions in the spirit of academic debate and progress of international bioethics.

There will also be times when Board members of an Association differ from the decision of the Board, and the minority views should be open to publication. Let us hope for greater respect for the global origins and diversity of bioethics by all, so it can mutually flourish.

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