University of Minnesota

Inter-Parliamentary Union, Resolution on Bioethics and its Implications Worldwide for Human Rights Protection (1995).

The 93rd Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Considering that scientific and technological progress, particularly in the fields of human medicine and biology, is part of the heritage of mankind and must be analysed thoroughly, rationally and objectively,

Also considering that the application of this progress undeniably has advantages and disadvantages, depending primarily on how it is used,

Affirming that progress in biology and medicine should be used for the benefit of present and future generations,

Mindful of the importance of the questions and concerns raised by these biological and medical advances, and aware that they cannot be resolved solely by the professional and ethical rules of scientists and the medical profession but should also be subject to a broad and open public debate before final decisions are taken by the responsible political bodies,

Considering that general information plays a decisive role because it enables citizens to express enlightened views on scientific and technological progress,

Also considering that bioethics must provide a means of reconciling freedom of research with protection of individuals and humanity, both of which are paramount,

Recalling that bioethics derives from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international agreements and conventions on the protection of human rights, as well as the Code of Nuremberg, the World Medical Association's Helsinki Declaration and the Manila Declaration of the Council for International Organizations for Medical Sciences,

Stressing that such bioethical issues are the focus of the work of several international institutions,

Considering therefore the need to promote the following universal principles and rights, while ensuring respect for cultural, social and religious values:

  • the inviolability of the human body and the intangibility of the genetic heritage of the human species;
  • the unavailability of the person, which prohibits the human body or its parts, including human genes and their sequences, from being the object of trade or subject to a right of ownership;
  • the anonymity of donor and beneficiary in donations of organs or human products, subject to exceptions provided for in national laws;
  • the obligation to secure the free and informed consent of persons on whom biomedical experiments are practised and the establishment of rules to protect vulnerable groups, more particularly in developing countries, and vulnerable persons, especially children, incapacitated persons, persons deprived of their freedom and patients in emergency situations;
  • the regulation of cases where study and research may be conducted on embryos, particularly those produced by procedures of medically assisted procreation, and the resulting applications, in order to preclude selective eugenics, including on the basis of gender;
  • the right to share in the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, without any form of discrimination;
  • the right of all persons, in particular children, to be protected against all forms of trade or exploitation;

Recalling that parliaments, as representatives of the people's will, are the guarantors of the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual,

1. Stresses the urgent need to :

  • develop an international corpus of common principles which respect diversity of culture, belief, spiritual values and historical heritage;
  • prohibit all financial gain from the human body or parts thereof, subject to exceptions provided for by law;
  • ban the patenting of human genes;
  • provide for genuine health security at the international level;
  • ensure equitable sharing of the knowledge and advances resulting from scientific research and new medical practices, in particular with regard to the developing countries, so as to correct imbalances in this field between them and the developed countries;
  • allow the use of personal information in the medical sector and in legal proceedings only as provided for by law;

2. Calls on governments and parliaments to provide their citizens with exact information on issues relating to bioethics, particularly in the fields of human biology and medicine, and encourages an ongoing debate on these issues;

3. Recommends that bioethics be taught at all levels of education;

4. Urges States to set up national ethics committees to monitor protection and respect for the dignity, freedom, identity and integrity of the individual in biomedical research, in co-operation with UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee, if they so wish;

5. Calls on national parliaments to define a legal framework within which ethical rules may be established to govern biomedical and biological research and its implications for individuals;

6. Urges parliaments and governments in developing countries where cultural, social and economic conditions are favourable to genetic research to monitor and control the way in which such research is conducted, and to bear in mind that local knowledge could be exploited by non-local corporations;

7. Proposes that, after the Bioethics Convention (Council of Europe) has come into force, as many non-member States of the Council of Europe as possible avail themselves of the opportunity to accede to the Convention, thereby giving it a universal character;

8. Recommends that governments promote genuine international co-operation in bioethics, to be monitored and evaluated within the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in co-operation with the competent intergovernmental and international organizations.


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