Perhaps the first question for those considering initiating a 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. concerns their reasons for doing so. Both organisers and participants Public authorities, experts and citizens all may be regarded as participants in a public engagement activity or debate. benefit if the reasons behind the process are clearly stated.

Inevitably, there will be more than one reason for any given initiative. Reflecting on the nature and balance of reasons can help to identify what approaches may be appropriate. Public debate activities should never be undertaken without careful prior reflection, as just a ‘box-ticking’ exercise, since this is unlikely to serve the interests of anyone involved and could even lead to public distrust.

Examples Examples

Germany - Public discourse on genome editing (2019)

The public debate Genomchirurgie im gesellschaftlichen Diskurs (about genome editing) is a good example of a range of actions undertaken for ethical reasons.

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

There is a provision in law that requires public debate periodically, when amending legislation on bioethics, and in any case, every five years. This was last done by a large-scale public debate called “États Generaux” in 2018.

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

The Russian Federation has a long-standing practice of discussion on draft laws at the level of state authorities and through public discussion at various venues. Views from the public are also collected via an Internet portal. A debate on the amendments to the law "on transplantation of human organs and tissues" took place in 2016. The discussion is still ongoing.


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