Asian Bioethics is My Concern

- Judge C. Byk,

Secretary General, International Association of Law, Ethics and Science 62 Boulevard de Port-Royal, 75005 Paris, FRANCE.


Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 5 (1995), 4.

When we created in 1989 the International Association of Law, Ethics and Science, bioethics had already an history, founding principles and leading centers, mainly originated from the United States. Our aim was simply at that time to build a bridge to the future, building a multidisciplinary and international forum between those involved in bioethics in Northern America and those who in Europe had more recently discovered this "new word".

But, we also felt that bioethics issues could have another dimension than those essentially related to academic reflexions or clinical practice. Bioethics focused on the relationship between sciences, technologies and societies. By the way, we thought it will become very soon a political issue. It is the reason why our title insists on the relationship between Law, Ethics and Science. Consequently we have adapted our objective and activities to the policy issues raised by biological development: bioethics and the public debate, bioethics and its institutions, bioethics and the regulatory process.

We were confirmed in this approach when we organized in 1992 with UNESCO and the Council of Europe a conference in Budapest on Bioethics and Culture. I think that those who were there learnt a lot from the new participants of former Soviet Countries. I was working at that time for the Council of Europe which just welcomed as members or associate members some of the Eastern and Central European countries and no one thought that bioethics should be a priority for cooperation with those countries. However the discussion in Budapest showed that bioethics should also be understood as raising basic issues for those countries: how to change abortion policies; how to deal with AIDS? how to face scarce resources and rebuilt the health system? , how to prevent the trade in human organs...? what should be the minimum rights of a person? The needs were great but what was more essential was that while discusing those issues, people in central European countries progressively became aware that they could find in their history, in their culture, in their human experience the way to reach their own view. Bioethics was then just a part of a larger process but this process had a fundamental meaning. The restoration of democracy could be accomplished mainly by domestic grounds.

Far from me is the idea that international cooperation is useless. I do not think also democracy has developed the same way and as far as it needed in the countries I mentioned. I just wanted to give this example to prove how much we can hope from the development of bioethics in East Asian and how much people living in East Asian countries can expect from their own activities in this field. It is to encourage, as we did with the Declaration of Ixtapa, a political and cultural approach of bioethics which would be beneficial to democracy, human rights and particularly the right to health care. So good luck to the Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics and I want to support Darryl Macer in this initiative.


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