Conferences and symposia
High-level Seminar on International Case-Law and Bioethics: Insight and Foresight
The seminar took place on 5 December 2016 in Strasbourg under the auspices of the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
In view of the increase of high-profile cases relating to Human Rights in the biomedical field, the Seminar aimed at analysing the qualitative and quantitative evolution of the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and impact at national level. By analysing relevant national case-law, it further aimed at identifying emerging trends to allow a forward look on possible human rights challenges in the biomedical field. The Seminar is incorporated within the framework of the preparation of a Conference which will be held on 24-25 October 2017 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on human rights and biomedicine (Oviedo Convention).
Message from Ms Theodora Constantinidou, Permanent Representation of Cyprus to the Council of Europe and Professor Constantinos N. Phellas, Chairperson of the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee
Professor Constantinos N. Phellas, Chairperson of the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee
"The study of bioethics is as relevant today as ever. Advances in technology, medicine and biology have not only led to new perspectives of ongoing debates on controversial issues such as euthanasia, abortion, or the right to refuse medical care on religious grounds, but also to the development of new ethical questions in fields of inquiry such as surrogacy, cloning and organ donation. The ethical evaluation of issues concerning biology and medicine has gradually grown into a distinct and constantly expanding field of study. In view of the above, this seminar which was under the Cyprus Chairmanship of the Council of Europe was indeed of great significance. The seminar’s deliberations would undoubtedly strengthen society’s understanding of human rights in biomedicine. The assessment by the various distinguish speakers at the seminar of existing initiatives and case-law in the field, as well as the comparative analysis of the existing trends and legislation, would enable the further understanding of the parameters of the debate and assist in the reformulation of the questions by taking into account the existing literature, case-law and experience. Furthermore, the thorough analysis of the existing case-law as carried out so successfully at the seminar would allow forward thinking on the future of this ever-changing field.
We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to, the European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe, to the speakers and to all participants, who contributed in making this Conference a forum of a valuable exchange of knowledge, practices and ideas."
HUMAN RIGHTS AND BIOMEDICINE. Ethical and Legal Aspects of Organ Donation
At an international conference organised by the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, ethical, legal and health professionals, together with representatives of relevant authorities, agreed on the need for more experience-sharing, co-operation and public dialogue to ensure better protection of human rights in the biomedical field. The conference was part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe.
The participants called for synergies between the protection of human rights and the promotion of medical and scientific progress, particularly in the process of organ donation and transplantation. The need to improve the relevant legal framework was also mentioned.
Promoting organ donation and transplantation is a necessity. But protecting fundamental rights of donors and recipients is a requirement and the only way to fight organ trafficking, as highlighted in the conclusions.
The conference was the occasion for Russia to present its new draft law on organ donation and transplantation which takes into account the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine and its Additional Protocols concerning transplantation of organs and tissues. The current legislative process should pave the way for future accession by Russia to these Council of Europe instruments, which ensure respect for human rights in this challenging medical area. Furthermore, the Russian authorities confirmed their willingness to contribute to the fight against organ trafficking.
The importance of free and informed consent of the donor, including for deceased donation, has been emphasised. It is equally important, wherever relevant, to keep a record of objections in an up-to-date, centralised register that should be consulted by medical professionals.
A strong call for better education and training was also made, in order to ensure the effective implementation of the legal requirements and safeguards enshrined in the relevant international conventions and domestic law. The Council of Europe therefore plans to develop within its pan-European HELP programme, a new training course on bioethics for both legal and health professionals.
Among key participants:
- Ms Veronica I. Skvortsova, Minister of Health, Russian Federation
- Mr Philippe Boillat, Director General, Directorate General of Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Council of Europe
- Mr Daniel Tarschys, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe and former Chair of the Swedish national council on medical ethics (SMER), Professor of Political Science at Stockholm University, Sweden
International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Human Rights
An International Conference on « Emerging Technologies and Human Rights » took place on 4-5 May 2015 in Strasbourg.
The Conference aimed at identifying priority human rights challenges raised by emerging technologies and their convergence. Its conclusions will be used as a basis for a white paper to be prepared by the DH-BIO.The Conference promoted interdisciplinary debate with lawyers and experts in Human Rights, scientists, sociologists, philosophers as well as other experts in fields concerned. All participants in the Conference were invited to take part in the debate.
Convergence of emerging technologies, i.e. nano-, bio-, IT and cognitive technologies has opened new perspectives for progress, particularly in regards to human health. For instance, treating symptoms of Parkinson disease is possible due to deep brain stimulation; nanotechnologies combined with IT already facilitate rapid diagnostics and monitoring of patients’ health parameters. However, these technologies also open new possibilities for interventions on human beings, which may be more invasive and intrusive, and possibly affect and modify individuals.
Such developments raise questions particularly in regards to person’s autonomy, integrity and privacy.
Are neurodevices implanted in the brain potentially challenging the free will of the person concerned?
What could be the consequences of convergence between, for example, nanotechnologies and ICT for the protection of our personal data?
Who will have access to the applications of these technologies?
Will the current governance in place be challenged by the blurring of lines between the biomedical field and other fields of application for these technological developments?
Two studies prepared by the Rathenau Instituut (NL) and the Center for the Study of Sciences and Humanities from the Bergen University (Norway) were used as background documents for the Conference.
Launching Conference of the Guide on the decision-making process regarding medical treatment in end-of-life situations
A Launching Conference of the Guide on the decision-making process regarding medical treatment in end-of-life situations, organised by the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO), took place on 5 May 2014 in Strasbourg, France, under the auspices of the Austrian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The objective of this conference was not only to present the Guide, but also to benefit from the feedback of professionals and patients on this document.
Symposium on Biobanks and Biomedical Collections
A Symposium on Biobanks and Biomedical Collections - An ethical framework for future research, organised by the Committee on Bioethics (DH-BIO), was held in Strasbourg on 19-20 June 2012.
The objective of this Symposium was to provide a basis for the re-examination of the Council of Europe Recommendation (2006)4 on research on biological materials of human origin.
To that end, the Symposium examined the developments in biobanking and research on biological materials of human origin, that have taken place since the adoption of the Recommendation and considered their possible evolution, in order to assess the challenges they may raise with respect to the ethical and legal principles enshrined in the Recommendation.
International Conference on Ethics Review of Clinical Research in Pharmaceuticals
An International Conference on Ethics Review of Clinical Research in Pharmaceuticals was held in Moscow on 28-29 November 2011. It was organised by the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.
The Guide for Research Ethics Committee members was presented on this occasion.
The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine: 10 years later
"The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine: 10 years later" was held in Strasbourg on 3 November 2009.
This Conference was organised on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary in cooperation with the Slovenian authorities in the framework of the Slovenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
Conference on Ethics of Biomedical Research in Countries with Emerging or Developing Economy
Conference on Ethics of Biomedical Research in Countries with Emerging or Developing Economy was held in Madrid on 27 April 2009.
The CDBI delegations participated in the launching session of the Conference on Ethics of Biomedical Research in Countries with Emerging or Developing Economy organised on 27 April 2009 by the Spanish authorities.