signature from 1 March 2002
Initial Signatories to the Eubios Declaration and Comments (June 2002)
[The Eubios Ethics Institute and the Tsukuba Bioethics Roundtable Declaration on International Bioethics]
The life and medical sciences present many important educational, ethical, legal and social issues, which need to be considered at local, national and international levels. Following the closure of the Seventh International Tsukuba Bioethics Roundtable (TRT7), and the discussion at the preceding six TRT meetings, and consistent with the stated goals of the Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics (EJAIB) and the decade of debate that has appeared in EJAIB, the members of Eubios Ethics Institute, and the further undersigned persons, wish to highlight the following principles for international bioethics:
Descriptions of Bioethics
1. Bioethics is an interdisciplinary field that needs to be nourished by debate among all disciplines and people, not limited to any academic specialty or professionals.
2. There are a variety of definitions of bioethics, and this variety is part of the intrinsic value of the field of bioethics. We consider bioethics to be the process of reflection over ethical issues raised in our relationships with other living organisms; the consideration of the ethical issues in spheres including environmental ethics, health care ethics, social ethics, and in the use of technologies that affect life; and the love of life.
3. Bioethics has grown rapidly throughout the world, and should play a central role in professional and public discussions and debates, and bioethical issues feature prominently in legal, medical, scientific, and policy agendas worldwide.
4. Bioethical principles proposed by bioethicists may vary in their number, names, and organization, yet sufficient convergence exists to allow us to endorse the ethical values of respect for persons, doing good (beneficence), doing no harm (non-maleficence), and justice. Moreover, the virtues of the moral agent and his/her relationship to others and the environment are emphasized. The examination of these principles is part of bioethics.
5. There are different ways to view bioethics and in discussions of bioethics we should be clear which approach we are addressing. These include:
Descriptive bioethics is the understanding the way people view life, their ethical interactions and responsibilities with living organisms in their life.
Prescriptive bioethics or normative bioethics examines what is ethically good or bad, or what principles are most important in making such decisions. It may also be to inquire into when to say something or someone has rights, and others have duties to them.
When one person tells another what is ethically good or bad they are prescribing bioethics. If prescriptive bioethics leads to paternalistic elitism, then we reject it.
6. There are at least two essential approaches to bioethics:
Interactive bioethics is discussion and debate between people, groups within society, and communities about descriptive and prescriptive bioethics.
Practical bioethics is action to make the world more bioethical, for example, health projects for medically deprived populations, and environmental activism.
Personal and Global Bioethics
7. Every person has a lifelong responsibility to develop his or her own bioethical maturity[rw1] and values. We could define bioethical maturity as the ability to balance the benefits and risks of ethical choices, considering the parties involved and the consequences. At the societal level, public policy and law need to be developed, which requires a social mechanism for balancing conflicting ethical principles.
8. International cross-cultural bioethics should be developed, including studies and discussions, which respect individual cultures as long as they do not conflict with fundamental human rights, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Nations and members of every society (communities) should honestly reflect on the bioethical lessons of the past. Honest reflection on the bioethical lessons of the past should be encouraged together with efforts to promote reconciliation on all levels.
9. Research on the thinking and reasoning of all people should be more emphasized in order to understand the diversity of people's thinking. This is necessary for determining the degree of universality that is possible, and should be used to complement other research approaches in bioethics. There is no inherent reason to believe a priori that the views of one person are intrinsically more valuable than another, based on gender, age, educational background, physical, mental, or psychological condition or life experience.
10. Such ethical understanding is necessary to develop international cross-cultural bioethics, and no one culture should claim to be the dominant source of the concept of bioethics.
Freedom of dialogue
11. Freedom of discussion is necessary for bioethical reflection and an essential feature of democratic life. We uphold the value of free, open and reasoned discussion, so that any position is worthy of consideration. In public discourse, no individual or group can claim to have exclusive knowledge of the right ethical solution. Only open discussion can lead to justifiable conclusions.
12. All nations and communities are encouraged to vigilantly defend the basic freedom of open discussion and disagreement. Often, this freedom is imperiled and there is widespread reluctance to discuss problems openly, the reasoned solution of which may run counter to received opinions and traditions.
Life as a Whole
13. We recognize the dependence of all life (biota) on intact, functioning ecosystems, and the essential services that ecosystems provide. We urge action to halt environmental damage by humans that reduces biodiversity or degrades ecosystem processes.
14. Whereas wildlife provide numerous free services that make our life possible and pleasant, cleaning the air, water, and the soil of pollutants, providing food, medicines and a beautiful place to live, wildlife are in grave danger from the loss of habitat, the spread of exotic species, pollution, and direct consumption by humans. Wildlife often cannot protect themselves from humans, so without our help they cannot survive. The presence of humans greatly reduces the usefulness of a habitat to wildlife. Wildlife reserves act as sources for replenishing our supplies of animals and plants. Therefore, we urge all nations and peoples to make the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat a top priority. In particular we urge them to set aside a large portion of their territory, interconnected by the wildlife travel corridors, for the exclusive use of wildlife, off limits to humans.
15. We believe that life is the common heritage of life, and no one group of persons can claim to own a living organism so as to stop others growing similar organisms.
16. No part of the human body (DNA, gametes, genes, cells, tissues or organs) should be exploited as a source of profit. We oppose exploiting people from some countries or groups to do things that are unacceptable in other countries, for example trade in human organs, unethical or dangerous drug trials, or dumping of hazardous wastes, including nuclear wastes.
17. We applaud the development of science and technology if for the betterment of all, and urge the better sharing of the benefits of technology with all. Practical methods for appropriate technology (both new and traditional) transfer should be effected, together with mechanisms to assess the cultural, environmental, ethical, social and health impacts of such technology. Encouraging simpler technologies can often be preferable to transfer of advanced scientific technology.
18. In particular, we call upon all those in the research community to use any appropriate technology to reduce the burden of diseases and afflictions, both mental and physical, that afflict persons in all societies, and in particular in developing and least developed countries.
19. We do not think that any one technology with the same general goals, like feeding hungry people or curing a given individual patient, should be singled out for more critical examination, rather that bioethical principles should be applied to protect the interests of living organisms today, and the future generations.
Ethics Committees and Consent
20. In order to effect this, ethics committees with full community and ethnic representation, for the purpose of reviewing research proposals, and monitoring the impact of science and technology, should be established immediately.
21. In principle, all research on humans that has the rational potential to harm should be validated by the documented, informed consent from competent participants, which is voluntary and noncoerced. There are important issues to discuss regarding consent from communities, and we urge further study on these issues. We must devote more research to the topic of research on human subjects who lack the capacity for fully informed consent, such as in pediatric and psychiatric medicine.
Human reproduction and genetic heritage
22. Somatic cell gene therapy for treatment of disease is a useful medical therapy and may be used when needed and chosen by patients. However, germ-line gene therapy should not be attempted until it is technically safe, and a truly international public consensus has been sought and achieved for what specific cases would be considered ethical.
23. Therapeutic cloning, for example of tissues or organs, may be a useful medical therapy and may be used when needed and chosen by patients. However, human reproductive cloning should not be attempted until it is technically safe, and a truly international public consensus has been sought and achieved for what specific cases would be considered ethical.
Duties to all persons
23. We respect the life of all living organisms, When considering organisms we have to think of not only those on the planet Earth now, those that will be brought back to alive from the state of being extinct, those made in the future through natural or deliberate creation, and those that exist in other places. We should consider all persons, no matter their body or mental composition, for their intrinsic value and not their makeup. Society should consider the use of technology to reintroduce extinct species or introduce new species to the ecosystem.
24. We urge reflection on the way that we will treat non-organic (e.g. robots) or hybrid (e.g. cyborgs) persons, before they are made. All persons who work towards the love of others should be valued as a member of the moral community. Many persons in this world are not valued because of speciesism and we uphold the rights of all Great Apes and other beings capable of loving others and conscious thought.
25. To work towards a social consensus requires participation of informed citizens, which requires education about issues of bioethical importance. We applaud the public discussion on bioethics that has started to emerge in a number of countries, but these efforts need further support.
26. In order to achieve the above goals, greater effort is required to educate all members of society about the scientific and clinical background, and the ethical principles and social and legal problems involved, in the life and medical sciences. This will enable the active collaboration of all individual members of society, many academic disciplines, and the international community.
27. Education of bioethics is to empower people to face ethical dilemmas. Ethical challenges come to everyone. The process of debate and discussion is important for developing good minds to face bioethical dilemmas. It also develops tolerance and respect of others. In these troubled international times, it is very important to develop tolerance of others, and to learn that everyone as a human being is the same regardless of race, sex or religion. Same in this sense means equally diverse, it does not mean identical.
28. The process of debate and discussion in classrooms is particularly valuable and we urge all persons, organizations, institutions and countries to take appropriate measures to promote the principles set out in the Declaration, through promotion of education in bioethics.
A call to practical ethics now
29. States and institutions should take appropriate measures to encourage all forms of research, training and information dissemination conducive to raising the awareness of society and all of its members of their responsibilities regarding the fundamental issues relating to bioethics, in an open international discussion, ensuring the free expression of various socio-cultural, religious and philosophical opinions.
30. These goals require the cooperation of all, particularly in those with more resources, such as multinational corporations, and rich countries. We urge all to work together for all.
Open to improvement and signature
31. We note that progress towards reflection of bioethics can be made by every person, in both official and unofficial ways, and the undersigned endeavour to help all who want to progress the development of bioethics through the social network of members of the ever diverse, growing and non-exclusive Eubios family.
32. This Declaration will be open to signature and text agreement until a period two months after the publication of the draft Declaration in EJAIB (March issue), when the Declaration will be published. Further persons and organizations are welcome to endorse, second, or otherwise use the principles in this Declaration to promote bioethics in the spirit of this Declaration. This Declaration will also be known by its simple form, the Eubios Declaration for International Bioethics. As knowledge and experience progress, this Declaration will always be open to revision. We invite the world to participate.
Declared on the 1 March 2002, and open to signature.
On-line at: http://eubios.info/eeidec.htm
Please return your comments and support by Email to:
Dr. Darryl Macer
Director, Eubios Ethics Institute, Japan, New Zealand and Thailand (Email < firstname.lastname@example.org >. )
Published by the Eubios Ethics Institute. This file is on-line at