At the global level, UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee leads discussions on the morality, legality and acceptability of modern medical and biotechnological techniques. Several nations also have their own organisations responsible for conducting bioethical reflection on these issues.
The Comité consultatif national d’éthique pour les sciences de la vie et la santé (CCNE) is the French body responsible for advising the public on bioethical issues raised by medicine, biology and other disciplines.
The CCNE, created in 1983, operates under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. The members of the committee are appointed according to the guidelines of decree 97-555 of 29 May 1997. Representatives of spiritual and philosophical families, personalities competent in bioethical issues and researchers are part of this committee. The CCNE is a strictly consultative body.
In the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, bioethical issues fall under the responsibility of two bodies.
– The Nuffield Council on Bioethics
This multidisciplinary committee has eighteen members, including journalists, legal experts, philosophers, ethics professors, theological figures and representatives of medical disciplines. The term of office of the members of this independent think tank on bioethics is three years.
– The Human Genetics Commission
The Human Genetics Commission is also an independent body, whose main task is to monitor and oversee the progress of human genetic research. It advises the government on bioethical issues relating to work on the human genome.
As in the United Kingdom, Switzerland has two independent bodies to advise policy makers and the public on bioethical issues.
– The National Ethics Commission ;
– The Central Ethics Commission of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.
The Swiss National Ethics Committee is one of the few with general competence on bioethical issues.
In the United States
The United States does not have a state body to monitor and judge the ethical propriety of biomedical work. This is the task of the ethics and bioethics committees that operate in each university and research centre. These Institutional Review Boards (IRB) have the power to approve, request modifications to or reject research based on whether or not it complies with bioethical principles.