A statement published by the Council of Europe's Committee on Bioethics recalls the fundamental principles, based on the respect for human dignity and human rights, which must guide medical decisions and practices in the context of the current crisis.
Health care systems are under extreme constraints and the increasing number of severe cases raises major ethical challenges that professionals and competent authorities have to address in the health care of patients. Difficult decisions have to be taken at collective and individual levels in a context of uncertainties and scarce resources, which may have an important impact on individuals.
The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention), which is the only legally binding instrument at international level in this field, provides a unique human rights framework, including in a context of emergency and health crisis management, to guide decisions and practices both in clinical and research fields.
The Committee on Bioethics will facilitate exchanges of information and analysis of the ethical challenges raised both during and after the current pandemic, under its Strategic Action Plan on Human Rights and Technologies in Biomedicine (2020-2025) and on the basis of the reference Council of Europe human rights legal corpus, developed in particular around the Oviedo Convention.