chapter  3
17 Pages

International bureaucracies’ competence creep into bioethics

The use of ethics experts as a bureaucratic device
ByAnnabelle Littoz-Monnet

This chapter examines the role that a new type of expert in 'ethics' or 'bioethics' has played in the expansion strategies of international bureaucracies in the field of bioethics. It addresses an existing body of work that has drawn attention to the authority of international bureaucracies. The chapter argues, however, that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the WHO–and to a lesser extent the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)–successfully expanded their mission to the governance of bioethical issues by resorting to the use of a transnational community of expert bioethicists. Expert bioethicists represented a crucial bureaucratic device for international administrations and allowed them to step into issues where international intervention seemed unlikely. In fact, international bureaucrats perceive national ethics committees as one of the most important intermediary bodies for the implementation of the UNESCO normative instruments.