For 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. to make a difference there needs to be a functional connection between public debate and the 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 health care and biomedicine, so that the public are empowered to influence the conditions of their collective future in a way that is appropriate in a democratic society.

The previous section concerned the quality of the public debate activity An organised activity, delimited in scope, intended to stimulate and to attend to public debate on a specific theme in the expectation that it will inform or influence policy development or governance. itself; this section concerns its further impacts and how to optimise them. These further impacts are of two sorts: direct effects (for example, giving rise to new policies) and increasing the integrity of the public as a social body and, therefore, the capacity of the public to participate in governance through democratic processes.

Examples Examples

Portugal - Public debate on the end of life (2017)

The public debate on End of Life resulted in the publication of a book “Deciding on the end of life – cycle of debates” which contained a collection of excerpts of conferences including interventions from the public. It also included a glossary and a conclusion with the main questions and arguments presented in the debate as well as a short study on comparative legislation.

The debate on End of Life did not lead to changes in Portuguese legislation, but the documentation in the form of a book serves as a record and reference point for future debates on the topic.

France - Public debate on the law on bioethics (2018)

The “États Généraux” was carefully analysed afterwards by the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) which, in June 2018, published a summary report outlining in addition the opinions formulated by the Citizen’s Committee in the outcome of the initiative.

The French National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) recommended in its Opinion 129, issued in September 2018, that the French law on bioethics is supported by ongoing public debate on bioethical issues and is not carried out as a ‘one-time’ event. The aim is to foster a culture of debate on these issues. In this context, the report by the CCNE will most likely serve as an important reference point for the future.

In the “États Généraux” a key to the successful involvement of the public was the mandate given to the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) to foster public debate and organise the activities it considered appropriate. The CCNE was given this broader mandate in 2011, and funding was secured for the revision of the law on bioethics in 2018.

Denmark - Public debate in Denmark on the future of the healthcare system (2008)

The Danish Board of Technology was previously funded by the Danish government but is now an independent institution which is no longer publicly funded. It was considered important to detach it from the government; however, it does not have a mandate stipulated by law and thus works on a commission basis.

Russian Federation - Public debate and its impact on the law on transplantation of human organs and tissues (2016)

The public discussion on the suggested amendments to the law "on transplantation of human organs and tissues" confirmed that organ donation is a very sensitive issue in Russian society. The suggested amendments were met by substantial criticism from the public. One of the most important lessons learned is that the debate will only be effective if people have a full understanding of the subject, especially when the subject raises human rights issues.

Cyprus - Awareness week (2018)

The Cyprus National Bioethics Committee is mandated to foster public debate by, each year, organising a public debate on a chosen topic.


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