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EC-UNESCO Conference: Joint Action for Capacity-building in Bioethics (JACOB)

Final Report Summary - JACOB (EC-UNESCO Conference: Joint Action for Capacity-building in Bioethics)

Executive summary

The European Commission - UNESCO conference: Joint Action for capacity-building in cioethics (JACOB) was organised by UNESCO with financial support from the European Commission, and held in Mexico City, Mexico, on 26-28 November 2009. The event brought together more than 100 participants representing national bioethics bodies, as well as regional and international organisations working in the field of bioethics, to share knowledge and experience on establishing and operating National Bioethics Committees (NBC), and to reflect on ways to improve collaboration in the future.

The main objective of the conference was to facilitate working linkages for knowledge and experience sharing between NBCs from around the world, as a step towards reinforcing bioethics capacities of countries that have recently established, or are planning to establish such national bioethics bodies. This conference, together with the follow-up activities, was designed to make an important contribution to building national bioethics capacities of countries around the world, for them to be at the forefront of protecting human rights against the threats or challenges posed by scientific and technological advances.

The JACOB conference was held immediately after the sixteenth session of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) of UNESCO. The back-to-back arrangement of the IBC session and JACOB conference aimed to take advantage of the opportunity for synergy and promote exchange of experts, ideas and knowledge between the two events.

The debates revealed that bioethics is increasingly prominent on the political agenda of governments around the world. In the conference outcome document that summarised the ideas generated during the sessions, the participants reaffirmed the indispensible role that national bioethics committees play in shaping and guiding bioethics discourse and practices at the national level. The participants also requested UNESCO and European Commission to continue their collaboration to bring together existing bioethics networks to foster exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The Conference has a web page, which contains information derived from the conference. The conference programme, as well as the abstracts of the presentations and other relevant information have been available online in advance of the conference in English, French and Spanish languages. The web site will soon also contain all the delivered presentations.

As a follow up to the conference, UNESCO is in the final stages of publishing a compilation of papers, submitted by the participants and based on their presentations. The papers collected together represent a solid, substantive volume of information regarding the major themes of the conference, and will also be made available for the participants on the conference web site.