Article 28 of the Oviedo Convention (on ‘public debate In this document and in Article 28 of the Oviedo Convention the overarching concept of ‘public debate’ is used to describe discursive interactions in the public sphere (that is, not in a professional context) through which individuals and groups may identify, explore and resolve their different interests in matters that affect (or potentially affect) them all.’) was drafted with the conviction that the pursuit and implementation of developments in biomedicine are not only questions for experts or authorities but for a society as a whole.

Showing respect for the interests and views of the public is a cornerstone of democratic societies. Questions relating to developments in biomedicine are often complex and can challenge the way that social life is organised around ethical values, standards and principles. The response to these questions can profoundly shape the societies of the future.

In the contemporary world in which knowledge, people and technologies pass freely across national borders, such developments have an impact not only on the societies of individual member States but on all states. On questions that have an impact on the global direction of biomedicine, states therefore need to engage with each other to find a common strategy. In doing so, they will need to be informed by the views of their citizens A natural person subject to the laws and policies of a state and enjoying legal rights protected by that state. In compound terms such as ‘citizens’ assembly’, for example, the meaning of ‘citizen’ is broader than just those having nationality or entitled to vote in that state. represented to them through open debate in the public sphere The space of public debate; a notional communicative environment in which private individuals can formulate and discuss societal challenges that affect them in common and influence policy. In practice, it may be supported by institutions, such as social and political institutions, and the media..

It is important to recognise that public debate is as much about informing and developing views as it is about identifying and clarifying them. No single public debate activity, nor any mixture of public debate processes, can provide a complete solution to the ethical governance In this guide ‘governance’ means the accountable use of power or authority to set, monitor, and enforce standards and behaviours within systems or organisations. It can mean both steering people’s behaviour and ensuring that they are held to account. Governance can be given effect through compulsory and non-compulsory measures (legal provision, licensing systems, professional norms, codes of conduct, recommendations etc.,). Governance can be a function of both public and private actors. of biomedicine and biotechnology. Public debate is a valuable part of the process, but neither sufficient nor an end in itself.


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