Scientific and technological developments are a source of important potential advances for biomedicine and health. However, some of these developments, the way they are applied and the evolution of practices could give rise to infringements of fundamental rights.

The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine is the only international legally binding text which specifically addresses human rights protection in the biomedical field, including healthcare. Its principles are further developed in additional protocols focusing on specific issues.

Work focuses on developing legal texts to reinforce existing laws and on producing tools and other material to help implement binding legal principles, following developments emanating from decisions and judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The Council of Europe maintains partnerships with other intergovernmental organisations working on the issue, such as WHO, OECD, UNESCO and with civil society.

Steering Committee for Human Rights in the fields of Biomedicine and Health – CDBIO

The CDBIO carries out work on the applications of biology and medicine covered by the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine; conducts intergovernmental work on human rights protection in the fields of biomedicine and health; especially issues raised by the Covid-19 pandemic, taking into account lessons learned from the health crisis; advises and provides expertise to the Committee of Ministers.

 Focus 2022-2025

Equitable access to medical treatment and equipment in situations of scarce resources; promotion of health literacy for people in vulnerable situations; protection and promotion of patients’ rights, participation of children in decision making processes on matters relating to their health; artificial intelligence in healthcare; promotion of public dialogue on genomic medicine; genome editing.

 Civil society involvement 

  • Participant: Conference of INGOs (CINGO)
  • Observers
  • Consultation with civil society, either through direct participation in meetings, or through dedicated hearings or written consultations