Secretary's report of Asian Bioethics Association (ABA) 2003-2004

- Darryl Macer, Secretary, Asian Bioethics Association (ABA)

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 14 (2004), 99-101.

This report covers the period between the Fourth and Fifth Asian Bioethics Conferences (ABC4, ABC5,) (November 2002 to May 2004). The previous report was published after ABC4 conference in EJAIB 12 (2003), 207-209.

This is combined with the report of the 2004 Asian Bioethics Association (ABA) General Meeting

Held 12:30-13:30, 14 February, 2004, at University of Tsukuba, concurrent with the Fifth Asian Bioethics Conference (13-16 February, 2004).
Presided over by Sang-yong Song (Korea) and Darryl Macer (New Zealand/Japan)

1. Introduction of board members
7 board members (2002-2004) introduced themselves:
Vice President for India: Jayapaul Azariah
Vice President for Japan: Noritoshi Tanida
Vice President for Korea: Sang-yong Song
Vice President for West Asia (West of India): Sahin Aksoy (Turkey)
Vice-President for South Asia (East of India, excluding other named regions): Leonardo de Castro (Philippines) (in his absence)
Vice President for Asian Ethnic and Religious Minorities (e.g. Jews, Kurds, other ethnic groups or religious minorities): Frank Leavitt (Israel)
Secretary: Darryl Macer (Japan/New Zealand)
2. Apologies from absent board members
President: Renzong Qiu (China)
Vice President for China: Xiaomei Zhai

3. Secretary's Report
Darryl Macer reported the membership and fees of the ABA. There are 120 members of ABA, and the membership list is online <> except that confirmation form the 50 members whose names have been given from the Chinese vice president will have to confirm that they want their details listed on the website, and also establish a direct response to the ABA secretary (Email: in order to register for voting. There are some persons who did not want their addresses and names advertised on the website.
Regarding membership fees, there is a voluntary choice of the amount (ranging from no charge), so overall only 30 members have paid something for the ABA membership. Therefore all the fees from ABA memberships go towards subsidizing the production and posting of 6 issues of EJAIB a year to send to all ABA members who request a copy. EJAIB is the official journal of ABA and is also available openly on the Internet to all persons.

4. Voting in October 2004 for November 2004 Board renewal
Song and Macer reported that they had met with ABA president Qiu Renzong, and Vice president for China Zhai Xiaomei in January 2004. The Board members present in Tsukuba also met on the morning of the 14 February 2004 to discuss the voting issue. Macer conveyed the result. The election procedures in the constitution are set for two years and since the last election was held in November 2002, the next election will be held in time to announce the new board in November 2004, and the procedure will be a mixture of paper mail votes and by electronic votes. The Asian Bioethics Association has a policy that direct membership voting determines every position in the board.
Closer to the time there will be a call for nominations sent to all of the members of ABA.

5. Permanent ABA board membership for Founding president Hyakudai Sakamoto.
The board members present in Tsukuba unanimously approved of a motion brought by Frank Leavitt to make a special case and give permanent ABA board membership to the Founding President. This is within the rules of the ABA Constitution which allow for a Board up to 15 members, and so extra Board members can be added. The ABA General Meeting unanimously approved this, and since they represented the ABA the decision was made. Professor Sakamoto who was present, accepted this to the approval of the membership.

6. Sixth Asian Bioethics Association conference
Sahin Aksoy introduced that the Sixth Asian Bioethics Association conference will be held in Sanliurfa, Turkey tentatively 24-26 November 2005. The Board had approved this earlier with gratitude to Turkish colleagues. The Board meeting at Tsukuba suggested that a 4 day meeting may be better given the large number of papers presented at Tsukuba (110 papers). A full and entertaining audiovisual presentation was held on the 15th February cultural evening to introduce the meeting, and also share a range of cultural acts by many ABA members both young and old from all regions of the world..
The Turkish Bioethics Association decided on holding the conference in a rural but historical city They plan to organize a post-conference tour not only to Istanbul but other places as well plus an optional tour to people who have already been to Istanbul and want to go to other places.

6. Country representatives
Macer invited general questions and Prem Kaidi (Nepal) made the comment, "In terms of representation, there are very few Asian countries represented on the board." Macer replied that ABA also has country representatives. It is hoped to have representatives from all over Asia. He invited all those present from different countries to be country representatives (the volunteers at the ABC4 conference appear in the ABA report in November 2002 EJAIB). There were no other general comments.

7. Institutional cooperation with other international bioethics associations.
There are a number of bioethics associations who are trying to bring together bioethicists from different countries. In the past the ABA has had some cooperation with the International Association of Bioethics (IAB) and also some dialogue and discussion has appeared in EJAIB since the debate at the ABC4 meeting.
ABA wants cooperation with all bodies with similar purposes and was approached by the International Society for Bioethics based in Spain. Initially they contacted Darryl Macer asking whether he was interested in setting up an Asian branch of that society. They accepted the suggestion to cooperate with ABA, and the ABA Board and general Meeting agreed that they wish for cooperation, contact and collaboration in the future and we encourage those members in Asia to join the Asian Bioethics Association.
Hyakudai Sakamoto also was discussing cooperation with the Association for Global Bioethics (see his paper to be published in the proceedings of ABC5).
Anil Gupta raised the point whether members of ABA become automatically members of International Society for Bioethics and whether payment would be requested. Macer replied that ABA is one of the few associations with a voluntary fee structure. He would discuss with that society.
Yanguang Wang asked about the system of payment for ABA membership fees in China. Macer said that China is a special case. Some members pay their fees to Qui Renzong and Zhao Xiao Mei. And some members pay directly to the secretariat. Actually the fee is voluntary so it's up to members whether they want to support the efforts of ABA directly or mainland China. The secretary sends the EJAIB to ABA members who request for a copy, and to date no fees have been paid from China to the secretary. Five years previously the mailing of EJAIB inside China from Beijing was ended after a two year trial. Now directly mailing is made from Japan.
Sang-yong Song noted that cooperation was desired with other international bioethics associations but ABA and other organizations are separate. ABA is not a branch of any organization. So, if you want to be a member of other societies, you should pay separate fees. Being a member of ABA does not guarantee that you become a member of other societies, unless some special arrangement is negotiated in the future.
Irina Pollard mentioned that there is another "ABA", the Australian Bioethics Association, and that there is a World Congress in 2004 so people will be confused of the abbreviation. Macer said he had suggested to the organizer of the IAB congress to make it clear that the Asian Bioethics Association has a long history as ABA. In 1998 World Congress, was also the ABA Third Congress.
Aruna Sivakami suggested seeking institutional membership, like medical universities. Macer said that the Board had decided both Individuals and institutions can have the same terms for membership.

8. Board members reports
The issue of whether it be a requirement for members to make a report on bioethics in their countries to be published in the EJAIB, as proposed by Frank Leavitt was discussed. Minakshi Bhardwaj asked whether this would be a sort of performance indicator, and Macer said Yes. Leonardo De Castro said he had some misgivings on the idea of a report from members of the board on the activities in the region because a lot of activities conducted in our respective areas are not actually done from at our own initiative. And this has really nothing to do with a report that appears to claim credit for such events. For example, if I were to report on my activities in South East Asia, and it could easily be indicate to my claiming credit for those activities. I certainly wouldn't want people to think that I claim credit for such activities.
Frank Leavitt thanked him, and thought there's a misunderstanding over the wording. The wording was not to report on bioethics in the region, but to report on our activities as board members for the benefit of bioethics in our regional consistencies. Obviously, the board member should report on his and her activities for the benefit of bioethics. Sahin Aksoy also said he hadn't submitted the report because he felt the same as Leo, now I have to think about what has happened for the past two years in my vision. Macer concluded that the Board would try to clarify what sorts of report for the activities in hope in the benefit of the constitutions and bioethics in their regions. Those reports that Board members submitted would be published in EJAIB (and some have been).

9. Conclusions
The list of ABA co-sponsored conferences since ABC4 (Seoul) was announced, including:
a) TRT8 (15-17 February, 2003): Proposal for an Integrative Human Idea Map and the Methodology of Cross-Cultural and Multidisciplinary Bioethics: Eighth Tsukuba International Bioethics Roundtable.
b) Nature, Science, Technology & Religion: Our New Bioethical Issues - An International Dialogue, (25-29, November. 2003, Chennai, India)
c) Beijing International Conference on Bioethics (20-22 April, 2003, Beijing, China).
At present there was no concrete proposal for the venue of the Seventh Asian Bioethics Conference. It was suggested that persons in several countries may need to coordinate together to gain resources to hold a conference.
The plan to publish the full conference proceedings was announced, and members were encouraged to submit their final version of the paper to the ABA secretary by the end of March, 2004 (Email: There were 101 foreign and over 50 Japanese participants at ABC5 in Tsukuba, and 70 persons attended the ABA general Meeting.

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