Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention)

Council of Europe
This treaty is more commonly known as the “Oviedo Convention,” after the city in Spain where it was ratified. The Oviedo Convention is based on the European Convention of Human rights and is the only legally binding international instrument for protecting human rights in biology and medicine, covering both clinical and research settings and giving special consideration to human dignity. It lays out the rights of patients and research subjects for Europe, focusing largely on individual rights of informed consent and privacy but also mandating consideration of equitable access to health care. Another noteworthy provision, Article 18, bans the creation of human embryos for research purposes. Concerning human genome editing, the Oviedo Convention is most notable for banning heritable human genome editing in Article 13: “An intervention seeking to modify the human genome may only be undertaken for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its aim is not to introduce any modification in the genome of any descendants.” This Article was later clarified in 2022 to make the prohibition on heritable editing more explicit. The Oviedo Convention serves as a prominent example of an emerging international consensus against heritable human genome editing.