Just Published: Report of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee on the Principle of Respect for Human Vulnerability and Personal Integrity

Three years of reflection devoted to the principle of respect for human vulnerability and personal integrity set forth in the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights of 2005, have enabled the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) to draw up its report which analyzes and proposes lines of actions for a very basic inequality among human beings:

We are all equally entitled to meet our basic needs related to our health and well-being. Nevertheless, it is a fact that not all of us are equally and permanently able to meet those needs.

In writing this report, which is neither exhaustive, nor prescriptive, the ethicists, geneticians, biologists, lawyers, philosophers, psychiatrists, neurologists and immunologists composing IBC aimed at paving the way for a broader reflexion and indicate possible lines of action not only for States, but also for individuals, groups, communities, institutions and corporations, public as well as private.

IBC specifically enjoins all concerned stakeholders to exercise great vigilance in protecting those who are especially vulnerable. For example, IBC mentions the case of female children or women affected by war who are more exposed to the risk of being unwanted, uncared for, abused and rejected. Migrants, who, due to their lack of knowledge of the local language and of their social and legal entitlement are impaired in their ability to seek access to healthcare, are also mentioned as particularly vulnerable. Likewise, populations living in areas hit or prone to be hit by natural disasters have a higher need for protection since their lack of means and/or their incapacity to protect themselves causes or exacerbates their vulnerability.

This Report is currently available on-line in English and French and will be soon published as the third issue of the series devoted to the IBC’s reflection and deliberations on specific principles of the Declaration.

More information on the future programme of IBC for 2012-2013 can also be found on-line (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/bioethics/international-bioethics-committee/work-programme-for-2012-2013/)

English: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001895/189591e.pdf