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ABSTRACT

The latest (June 2005) draft of UNESCO's proposed Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights is a major disappointment. The committee of government ‘experts’ that produced it made sure that it would not introduce any new obligations for States, and so the document simply restates existing agreements and lists desirable goals without specifying how they can be achieved. This article focuses on the shortcomings of the document as it would apply to health care. These shortcomings are evident in the document's scope, aims and principles. The conclusion is that if UNESCO still thinks that such a declaration is needed, it should produce either an ethical document addressed to individuals and groups, which would be primarily educational in nature, or a legal document addressed to States, which should not have the word ‘ethics’ in its title.