The UNESCO Bioethics Programme was set up in 1993 to find common values and criteria in order to respond to the ethical and social questions of global change. UNESCO has adopted three declarations on bioethics:
- Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997)
- International Declaration on Human Genetic Data (2003)
- Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)
Since 2005, UNESCO has been focused on disseminating the principles laid out in these declarations, promoting their application and further expanding them in detail. To support their work, UNESCO has established two advisory committees on bioethics, the International Bioethics Committee and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee. The International Bioethics Committee (IBC) was established in 1993 as an interdisciplinary and globally representative expert committee. The goal of the committee is to be able to suitably advise on all new ethical questions arising from life and medical sciences. It is made up of 36 independent experts. Five years later, in 1998, a second committee was established: the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC). It is made up of representatives from 36 Member States that regularly discuss the IBC recommendations at government level.
Bioethics in Austria
Austria’s many years of active participation in the UNESCO Bioethics Programme, the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC) have played an extremely important part in maintaining an international network and a national discussion on the topic of life sciences.
Austria was represented at the International Bioethics Committee twice (2012 – 2015, 2008 – 2011) by Dr Christiane Druml. She has been the UNESCO Chair for Bioethics at the Medical University of Viennasince 2015.