Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics

Living Edition
| Editors: Henk ten Have

International Documents

  • M. Patrão Neves
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-05544-2_255-1


The first international documents on medical ethics and bioethics were produced in the aftermath of the Second World War and, therefore, focused on biomedical research with human subjects. In the following decades different institutions dedicated to bioethics were created, some of them in the international realm, such as the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences, the Council of Europe, WHO, and UNESCO – these last three, having a larger scope, established specialized departments and/or programs on bioethics.

As the institutionalization process of bioethics unfolded, the number of international documents increased significantly, the range of fields expanded from research to clinical practice and to public health policies, the diversity of the issues studied multiplied accordingly, and the ethical principles formulated grew in number and specification.

This entry refers to the main institutions or bodies in the field of bioethics and the most important international documents they produced, reflecting on their nature and strength, within a historic and thematic framework, establishing a line of evolution of bioethics.


Nuremberg Code Helsinki declaration/WMA Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects/CIOMS Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine/CoE UNESCO declarations Protocol Directive Regulation Resolution Recommendation Opinion Ethical principles 
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  1. CIOMS. (1982). Ethical guidelines for biomedical research involving human subjects. Geneva: CIOMS/WHO.Google Scholar
  2. Council of Europe. (1997). Convention for the protection of human rights and dignity of the human being with regard to the application of biology and medicine: Convention on human rights and biomedicine. Strasbourg: Conseil de l’Europe.Google Scholar
  3. UNESCO. (1997). Declaration on the human genome and human rights. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  4. UNESCO. (2003). Declaration on the human genetic data. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  5. UNESCO. (2005). Universal declaration on bioethics and human rights. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar

Further Readings

  1. Andorno, R. (2007). Global bioethics at UNESCO: In defense of the universal declaration on bioethics and human rights. Journal of Medical Ethics, 33(3), 150–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carlson, R. V., Boyd, K. M., & Webb, D. J. (2004). The revision of the declaration of Helsinki: Past, present and future. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 57, 695–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Nuremberg Code. (1949). Trials of war criminals before the nuremberg military tribunals under control council law no. 10 (Vol. 2, pp. 181–182). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  4. WHO. (1964). Helsinki declaration. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  5. WHO. (2013). Helsinki declaration. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  6. WHO. (2014). The World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki: 1964–2014 – 50 years of evolution of medical research ethics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioethics Research Centre, Bioethics InstituteCatholic University of PortugalPortoPortugal