Editorial: UNESCO's Challenge

- Darryl Macer, Ph.D.
Director, Eubios Ethics Institute
Affiliated Professor, United Nations University
Email: asianbioethics@yahoo.co.nz

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 14 (2004), 81.


This issue of EJAIB includes a potpourri of papers on bioethics, which is illustrative of the wide diversity of topics that bioethics research covers. There are papers on genetic databases, GMOs and sustainable development, patient rights and public understanding, Brain death, use of primates for animal research, and stem cell research, and a report from the ABA General meeting in Tsukuba in 2004 (ABC5). Incidentally the issue may seem shorter at the regular 36 pages because for several years it has regularly included extra pages. I expect longer editions will be the norm, but as the end of May approaches I decided to publish at the advertised regular page length.
The last paper is the contribution of the ABA made to UNESCO IBC extraordinary session in April 2004 on "Towards a Declaration on Universal Norms on Bioethics". At that meeting I presented comments orally on behalf of United Nations University, but also the written submission of ABA was printed in the submissions to the proceedings. The ABA was not able to give an oral submission. Still there were oral submissions by HUGO, IAB, ISCU, WMA, and other intergovernmental bodies and NGOs, together with numerous national bioethics commissions. The scope of the proposed Declaration is yet to be decided, or announced, but we sincerely hope it will be open to all areas of "bio"ethics, not simply medical ethics. As was observed by many speakers during the presentations, and during the thorough questioning by the IBC members at the sessions, there are many fields of bioethics. International treaties already cover many bioethical topics, so some consensus exists. There are of course areas where there is no consensus which need to be considered. Sadly WHO was absent in written and oral capacity, and in the intense series of consultations planned for the elaboration of the draft by November 2005, we hope all can work together. There are many willing partners to help UNESCO if they accept the offers, but it is still a daunting challenge.
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