UNESCO Revised Outline of a Declaration on the Human Genome and its Protection in Relation to Human Dignity and Human Rights

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 5 (1995), 150-1.

<(Note: changes made to Title, articles 1, 6, 7, 8, 10, 14, 16, 21)

l. The human genome is a fundamental component of the common heritage of humanity and needs to be protected in order to safeguard the integrity of the human species, as a value in itself, and the dignity and rights of each of its members.

2. The human genome, which is by nature evolutive and subject to mutations, contains potentialities that are expressed differently according to the environment, education, living conditions and state of health of each family and each individual.

3. Each human being possesses a specific genetic identity. An individual's personality cannot be reduced to his or her genetic characteristics alone. All individuals have a right to respect for their dignity regardless of those characteristics.


4. Everyone has the right to benefit from advances in biology and human genetics, with due regard for their dignity and freedom.

5. Research, which is an essential activity of the mind, has the function, in the field of human genetics, of relieving the suffering and improving the well-being of humanity.

6. No scientific advance in this field can ever be contrary to the respect for human dignity and freedom.


7. No person may be subject to discrimination on the basis of their genetic characteristics.

8. No operation affecting a person's genome, can have any purpose other than scientific, therapeutic or diagnostic. Such an operation can only be undertaken subject to a risk/benefit assessment, and the obtention of the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned or, where appropriate, of his or her duly authorized representatives, the relatives and the family, as the case may be.'

9. The confidentiality of genetic data associated with a named person and stored or processed for the purposes of research or any other purpose, must be protected from third parties except where the law provides otherwise and where justified by the general interest.

10. Everyone has the right to an equitable reparation for any injuries sustained as a result of an operation directly affecting their genome.


11. States shall ensure the intellectual and the material conditions favourable to research on the human genome, in so far as this research contributes to the advance of knowledge and to the prevention of disability and disease.

12. States shall regulate research with due regard for democratic principles and whenever it is necessary for them to do so in order to safeguard human dignity and freedom and protect health or the environment.

13. In view of its ethical and social implications,research in human genetics entails special responsibilities as regards the meticulousness, caution and intellectual honesty required of researchers.


14. States must ensure that the community fulfils its duty of solidarity in regard to individuals, families or population groups that are particularly vulnerable to disease or disability because of their genetic characteristics. States recognise the importance of promoting the creation of multidisciplinary and pluralist independent ethics committees with the task of identifying the ethical, social and human issues raised by research and operations on the human genome.


15. States shall undertake to foster the international spread of scientific culture concerning the human genome and to foster scientific and cultural co-operation, particularly between industrialized and developing countries.

16. States shall undertake to promote specific teaching and research concerning the ethical, social and medical grounds and implications of biology and human genetics.

17. States shall undertake to encourage any other form of research, training and information calculated to make civil society aware of its responsibilities regarding the choices made necessary by advances in biology and human genetics.


18. States shall adopt such normative measures as they consider appropriate to meet the purpose of this Declaration.

19. The principles set out in this Declaration shall serve as a basis for the normative measures adopted by States. They shall also guide those in charge of institutions, and any other persons responsible for the application of such measures.

20. States shall be duty bound to promote, through education training and information, respect for the afore-mentioned principles based on human dignity and freedom, and to ensure both nationally and internationally that they are recognized and effectively applied.

21. The International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO shall ensure the implementation of this Declaration. For this purpose, it may make recommendations or give advice. Nothing in this Declaration may be used by any State, group or person to ends contrary to the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

This version is of 25 September, 1995, and replaces the draft of 7 March, 1995, following discussions at the Third Session of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO in Paris at the end of September, 1995.

Comments to: Mr. Georges Kutukdjian,
Director, Bioethics Unit (SHS), UNESCO,
1 rue Miollis, 75732 Paris Cedex 15, FRANCE.

Comments for publication in EJAIB to: Dr Darryl Macer,
Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba,
Tsukuba Science City 305, Japan;
Email: asianbioethics@yahoo.co.nz

The text of the March draft Declaration on the Human Genome appeared in EJAIB 5 (July) together with an explanatory note and questionnaire. The contents of both versions are on-line at the Eubios Ethics Institute world wide web site:

OLD - http://eubios.info/EJ54M.html

NEW - http://eubios.info/EJ56/EJ56H.html

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