ABSTRACT

The sequencing of the entire human genome has opened up unprecedented possibilities for healthcare, but also ethical and social dilemmas about how these can be achieved, particularly in developing countries. How competently such dilemmas are managed will dictate whether the fruits of genetic and other biomedical research exacerbate or reduce inequalities of health between North and South. UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c and Cultural Organization, addresses such issues through its Bioethics Programme, established in 1993. Over the past two decades the Programme has negotiated bioethics in two ways. First, it has navigated the twists and turns of an evolving moral discourse, in tandem with developments in science and technology, particularly in relation to the human body. Second, at the formal intergovernmental level, it has formulated three international declarations on human genetics and bioethics. This book examines how these declarations have come about, their impact on bioethical thinking and practice and the future prospects of the Bioethics Programme.