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National ethics councils

  • fuchs_ethikraete_englAuthor:
    Michael Fuchs


  • Titel:
    National ethics councils.
    Their backgrounds, functions and modes of operation compared



  • Abstract:
    Over the past two decades, ethics committees, advisory groups or ethics commissions have come into being at national level in all parts of the world.

    Their function is to contribute to opinion formation and to advise state decision-making bodies on moral issues raised by science and its applications, in particular in the biosciences and medicine. The background to the creation of advisory groups on ethics as central national institutions is stated to be scientific progress. The present study attempts to identify the particularities and common features of these national ethics bodies. 

    Although the main focus of the study is on Europe, examples from all continents will be given, together with details of the experience gained with the models concerned, where this information has been published or is otherwise available. The survey begins with a number of individual examples, grouped geographically. There follows a crosssectional comparison of certain important aspects, such as the issues for which the bodies are competent, their composition and transparency, involvement of the public, and their legal and institutional framework. Contacts between national ethics bodies are discussed in a separate, systematic section, given that such contacts are considered to be increasingly significant for opinion formation in individual countries. Bilateral and international meetings are a further important element in the worldwide attempt to arrive at a consensus on ethical issues in the field of biomedicine. 

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