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Human rights in biomedicine post-COVID-19: action plan 2020-2025

Bioethics Committee Strasbourg 24 June 2020
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Human rights in biomedicine post-COVID-19: action plan 2020-2025

The Bioethics Committee has launched its new action plan on human rights and biomedical technologies. Governance of technologies, equity in health care and physical and mental integrity are at the heart of this five-year strategy.

“While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, we must help our governments get the right tools, restore confidence and advance in health care. Whether it's the availability of care, access to resources, or the development of tracking applications, our common standards must apply,” said Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić.

Designed to protect human dignity, human rights and individual freedoms with regard to the application of biology and medicine, the action plan focuses on addressing the key challenges posed by technological developments and trends in biomedical practices. It is divided into four main strands:

  • governance of technology: the aim here is to embed human rights in the development of technologies which have an application in biomedicine and foster public dialogue to ensure greater transparency in the field of biomedicine;
  • equity in health care: a draft recommendation will be drawn up to promote equitable access to innovative treatments and appropriate technologies, along with a guide to health literacy for older persons;
  • with regard to physical and mental integrity, the action plan provides for:

- a guide to good practice concerning the participation of children in the decision-making process;

- a compendium of good practices to promote voluntary measures in the field of mental health.

  • co-operation and communication

The action plan is based on the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention) adopted in 1997, which is the only legally binding instrument in this field. On this occasion, the Bioethics Committee will hold two webinars on the tracing of COVID-19 (26 June) and on health literacy (30 June), with videos to be posted online in the following days. These events are organised in the framework of the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, which is focused on the protection of public health and responses to the health crisis, while respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.


 More information and video messages


 Page on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human rights and the rule of law


 Press release
Human rights in biomedicine in the post-COVID-19 period: action plan 2020-2025


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