Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 7–15 | Cite as

UNESCO’s Activities in Ethics

  • Henk A. M. J. ten HaveEmail author
Original Paper


UNESCO is an intergovernmental organization with 193 Member States. It is concerned with a broad range of issues regarding education, science and culture. It is the only UN organisation with a mandate in science. Since 1993 it is addressing ethics of science and technology, with special emphasis on bioethics. One major objective of the ethics programme is the development of international normative standards. This is particularly important since many Member States only have a limited infrastructure in bioethics, lacking expertise, educational programs, bioethics committees and legal frameworks. UNESCO has recently adopted the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The focus of current activities is now on implementation of this Declaration. Three activities are discussed that aim at improving and reinforcing the ethics infrastructure in relation to science and technology: the Global Ethics Observatory, the Ethics Education Programme and the Assisting Bioethics Committees project.


Bioethics Ethics of science Ethics education Ethics committees UNESCO 


  1. COMEST. (2003). The teaching of ethics. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  2. Thomasma, D. (1997). Bioethics and international human rights. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 25, 295–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. UNESCO. (1999). Declaration on science and the use of scientific knowledge. Science agenda—framework for action. In World Conference on Science, Budapest.Google Scholar
  4. UNESCO. (2005a). Guide 1: Establishing bioethics committees. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  5. UNESCO. (2005b). Guide 2: Bioethics committees at work: Procedures and policies. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  6. UNESCO. (2007). Guide 3: Educating bioethics committees. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Ethics of Science and TechnologyUNESCOParisFrance

Personalised recommendations