In the past decades the Council of Europe addressed a variety of developments in the field of biomedicine. While recognising these developments as a potential benefit for human health and welfare, the Council also realises the possibility of abuse as a reason for concern from the perspective of human rights and human dignity. On the basis of the common framework provided by the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, or Oviedo Convention (1997), the Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe (DH-BIO) has considered various ethical and legal challenges raised by the applications of biology and medicine.

The DH-BIO adopted a Statement on Genome Editing Technologies during it's 8th meeting in Strasbourg on 2 December 2015.

In recent years innovations in the biomedical field are more and more emerging from the convergence of developments in different domains, including nanotechnology, cognitive science and information technology. As a result of this convergence, we can observe an increasing interaction between the life sciences and the engineering sciences. This interaction and convergence between different scientific and technological fields also raises new questions about the implications of these developments for human rights and human dignity.

For the DH-BIO, there is a clear need to look into these new developments in order to be able to respond to the possible ethical and legal challenges raised by these new technologies and their convergence.

The International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Human Rights took place on 4-5 May 2015.

The Conference promoted interdisciplinary debate with lawyers and experts in Human Rights, scientsts, sociologists, philosophers as well as other experts in fields concerned. All participants in the Conference were invited to take part in the debate.

Two background studies were prepared for the Conference, covering on the one hand the scientific aspects of new technological developments, and on the other ethical issues raised by emerging sciences and technologies. Both studies are a valuable basis for the reflection process which has started at the CoE.

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