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UNESCO Global Ethics Observatory: database on ethics related legislation and guidelines
  1. T W Ang1,
  2. H ten Have1,
  3. J H Solbakk1,
  4. H Nys2
  1. 1
    UNESCO, Paris, France
  2. 2
    Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, Leuven, Belgium
  1. Mr T W Ang, UNESCO, Division of Ethics of Science and Technology, 1, Rue Miollis, 75015 Paris, France; t.ang{at}


The Database on Ethics Related Legislation and Guidelines was launched in March 2007 as the fourth database of the UNESCO Global Ethics Observatory system of databases in ethics of science and technology. The database offers a collection of legal instruments searchable by region, country, bioethical themes, legal categories and applicability to specific articles of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights and International Declaration on Human Genetic Data. This paper discusses the background and rationale for the database and its role as a consultative and comparative resource hub for the study of ethics related legal instruments across the world, with the purpose of informing and inspiring relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the principles contained within the UNESCO declarations on bioethics.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • i The theme “access to healthcare and essential medicines” refers to legal instruments regulating access to basic healthcare services and essential medicines (especially for the health of women and children), as well as to instruments channelling the progress of science and technology towards advancing such access. However, this theme does not imply that there is a right to healthcare.

  • ii The theme “organ transplantation” covers the transplantation of organs from both living and deceased donors, and the determination of (brain) death.

  • iii The theme “non-discrimination in healthcare” addresses non-discrimination based on a person’s health characteristics and genetic make up, such as prenatal sex-selection and selection by insurance companies or employers based on genetic predisposition.

  • iv Disclaimer: UNESCO makes every effort to ensure, but does not guarantee, the accuracy of translated quotations from legislation and guidelines within the database. These translations should be considered as unofficial. For purposes of official or legal procedures, users should refer to the original version of the instrument.