The Global Governance of Bioethics: Negotiating UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005)

Adèle Langlois

UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (2005) was drawn up by an independent panel of experts (the International Bioethics Committee) and negotiated by member states. UNESCO aimed for a participatory and transparent drafting process, holding national and regional consultations and seeking the views of various interest groups, including religious and spiritual ones. Furthermore, reflecting UNESCO’s broad interpretation of bioethics, the IBC included medics, scientists, lawyers and philosophers among its membership. Nevertheless, several potential stakeholders—academic scientists and ethicists, government policy-makers and NGO representatives—felt they had not been sufficiently consulted or even represented during the Declaration’s development. Better communications and understanding within and between national, regional and international layers of governance would help to avoid a recurrence of this problem in future negotiations.